Matthew 8:5-8 (The Message)
As Jesus entered the village of Capernum, a Roman captain came up in a panic and said, “Master, my servant is sick. He can’t walk. He’s in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I’ll come and heal him.” The captain said, “Oh, no. I don’t want to put you to all that trouble. Just give the order and my servant will be fine. I’m a man who takes orders and gives orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
The Romans were the despised foreign occupiers of Israel. They had taken control of the local government, and watched closely over the populace. It is a sign of just how desperate this Roman captain is, that he is willing to approach a Jewish leader in public and to beg him for assistance.
In verse 10 we’re told that Jesus is “taken aback” by this man’s faith. The Greek word here is thanmazo, which means “wonder, be astonished, marvel.” It is quite an accomplishment to astonish the Son of God with your words!
Jesus continues, “This man is the vanguard of many outsiders who will soon be coming from all directions– streaming in from the east, pouring in from the west, sitting down at God’s kingdom banquet alongside Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (8:10).
Jesus came to the Jewish people to be their Messiah. But his love, grace, forgiveness, and power are open to all people.
What does it mean to you that we are accepted “at God’s kingdom banquet”? How can knowing that we were outsiders help you to reach out in love to people who are different from you?