“And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue’” (Luke 7:4-5, ESV, emphasis mine).
Recognize this verse? It’s from the story where Jesus heals the centurion’s servant. And recognize this line of thinking? It goes like this: a virtuous person deserves favors from God. If and only if you have earned brownie points with Him, God should listen to and answer your requests.
The centurion did not share this same concept. Instead, he expressed the opposite idea about his worthiness:
He was the wiser one. He was more aware of reality than his first set of messengers were. In truth, none of us deserve any favors from God… from the standpoint of our own morality. Our own attempts at righteousness are as “filthy rags,” the Word clearly tells us (Isa. 64:6). All of His goodness to us is sheerly the overflow of His uncontainable kindness. He answers our prayers because He is love.
The centurion then further demonstrated just what clear insight he had on the way things really work with God. He went on, “But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (vv. 7-8).
This military man understood who Jesus was. He understood two critical things about Him. One, Jesus was wonderfully kind, eager to heal the hurting. And two, Jesus possessed the power and authority to perform the wonderous deeds He desired to do for His people. “Just say the word.” One word. One command. That’s all it would take Him.
Do you notice that Jesus made no comment one way or another about the centurion’s worthiness? It was not the good deeds he had done that caught the Savior’s attention. It was his faith. Jesus was amazed at his faith.
Today, Jesus is not adding up your brownie points to decide whether to answer your prayers. Do not worry about your worthiness. If you belong to Him, His own precious blood has made you worthy in His sight. Simply look to Him with the eyes of confident faith. Know that He is indescribably kind, entirely willing, and limitless in His power to do the good to you that is in His heart. With bold confidence in who He is, simply entreat Him, “Lord, just say the word…”
Do you believe that Jesus wants to do amazingly good things for you? Do you believe that He is the exact representation of the Father? Do you believe that stories like these teach us how our Abba God operates?