The Romans were outsiders. They worshiped other gods – such as Jupiter and Mercury. The Romans were also conquerors. Israel did not have its freedom. Instead the armies of Rome held them as captives. Citizens of Israel did not have a say in their government. They were told what to do. They were told what taxes to pay. This was enforced by soldiers.
Another time, when Jesus went to the town of Capernaum he met another outsider. This man was a Roman soldier. He was a man in charge of a group of about 100 soldiers. This centurion was an outsider. Normally, a Jewish man would have nothing to do with a Roman Soldier.
Jesus was approached by such a man. He said, “My servant is sick and suffering.”
Jesus said, “Shall I come and heal him?”
This is the first amazing thing. Jesus was willing to go to outsiders. He was willing to help this Roman soldier who had a sick servant. He could have said, “I will not do anything for you!” but he was willing to go.
Do you remember what Jesus taught us about our enemies? In Matthew 5:43 he taught:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you might be called Children of your Father in heaven…”
Then a second thing happened. The Roman soldier said that Jesus did not need to come. He took a lesson from his own life and applied it to Jesus. He said that as a soldier he understood authority. When he commanded something to be done, it was done. If I say ‘do this’ it will be done. So if Jesus simply commanded it, his servant would be healed.
This was amazing even to Jesus. He said that he never saw faith like that among his own people. His people had the bible and the history of God’s mighty acts. They knew about Abraham, Moses and David. They knew about the Exodus from Egypt. They knew about the power of Elijah to bring fire from heaven. But they did not believe the way this Roman soldier believed.
Sometimes outsiders do the Lord’s work. He took the persecutor of the church, Saul, and made him the planter of churches, and changed his name to Paul. He used Jethro to give some leadership advice to Moses. He used Cyrus to restore Israel to its land.
Jesus said, to the man, “Go, let it be done just as you believed it would” and at that moment the servant was healed.
The Outsider was right. I sometimes see people think that they need to use special words or rituals to have power in prayer. I have seen people say that you have to express a lot of emotions and you have to shout. Jesus simply commanded, and it was done.
One time a woman in New York told me that she lost her keys in her house. She wanted me to go into each room in the house and pray that God would find them. I said to her that I was glad to pray. But we could stay where we were, and pray for god to help her find what was lost. God did not need us to walk into every room. God already know where the keys were. She called me the next day and said, “Praise the Lord! I found my keys.”