Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” 7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.
14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.
16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“ He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.” (Matt. 8:5-17 NKJV)
Within this text the Gospel is afoot. There is pictured in the healing accounts forgiveness, life, faith, and salvation. The centurion approaches beseeching, “O Lord.” Here the centurion is having a personal Kyrie directed right at Jesus. He requests that his servant be healed because he is extremely tormented. And whether Jesus asks or speaks regarding his intention to come to the house, the centurion has faith. That thought does not even enter the mind of the centurion, but he says, “O Lord merely speak by a word.”
Give the means. That’s all he needs. Faith is there to lay hold of the gift. He voices to Jesus how it works. For the centurion knows what it means to be under authority. He is under the authority of the tribune, and the centurion knows that his servant is under the authority of Jesus. Jesus gives the gift, the centurion’s hand of faith is open and he receives the gift. And wants it to be for his neighbor.
Today in the Church Christ is still active. Still working. Today we have somewhat of a similar exchange. In Private Confession the pastor asks, “Do you believe that my forgiveness is Christ’s forgiveness.” And when the affirmative answer is given he replies, as Jesus did, “Let it be done for you as you believe!!” Yet Matthew includes here the story of Peter’s mother-in-law’s healing to show that faith is not our doing.
Peter’s mother-in-law is cast down with a fever. Yet she is healed too. All those healed have faith. All faith is given. Peter’s mother-in-law is healed by no act of her own. The fever leaves her and she arises. She’s resurrected from the burning of her fever just as all the saints are raised from hell to new life in Christ through Baptism.
Jesus exercised his authority in healing the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and all those who came that evening. He healed both their souls and diseases. He exercises that same authority here today in the Church through the means of grace, viz., Baptism, Absolution, the Word, the Supper. All are tied to his word. All still done as the centurion asked, “Merely by a word, O Lord.” The Lord took all those things into himself. He suffered them with us. Whatever diseases may trouble us, Christ bore them. And whatever diseases we bear, he bore more. For he bore not just one person’s disease(s), but he bore the diseases, yea, even the sins of the whole entire world. Christ bore them all, and took them to the cross. They were left there, and he arose to new life. We bear our diseases in this life, and while they may be healed for now they are not ultimately healed until we rise from the dead and live forever with Christ.