The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (Matt. 8:8)
According to the Book of Matthew, this astonished Jesus, after which Jesus made the above statement. What is he saying?
Jesus was commenting on the statement of the centurion but more importantly, was making a statement about the context of his mission. Most people were focused on the fact that Jesus had a healing touch, and they wanted to be physically touched by Jesus so their physical bodies could get healed. The centurion, however, recognized that Jesus’ authority was much greater.
The centurion said “just say the word.” While we could take this as a casual remark used in modern English meaning to give a single word or statement, “word” here is translated from the Greek word λόγος (logos) - which means "doctrine" or "teaching" as well as words spoken.
So what was the "word" that the centurion is referring to - which pleased Jesus?
Words spoken in praise of or on behalf of God are powerful. These are transcendental words. These are words with higher authority. The reason words that glorify the Supreme Being are powerful is because God’s realm lacks the duality we perceive in the physical world.
A sincere and loving reference to the Supreme Being thus has God’s essence contained within it. A person who is deeply relating with the Supreme Being will transmit powerful messages regarding Him, because of this deep relationship. These were the words spoken by Jesus.
The centurion understood that Jesus’ healing ability was due to the authority of Jesus' words that glorified the Supreme Being. Because Jesus’ intimate relationship with the Supreme Being, he was able to transmit that authority through his words, spoken in praise of God (i.e. “Hallowed by thy Name”).
In distinguishing this ability from others who may be “healing in Jesus’ name,” we again bring to mind the Jesus' statement from Matthew 7:22:
”Many will come to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
It is apparent from this that just healing the sick is not the principle element of Jesus' message.
What Jesus is trying to teach is loving service to the Supreme Being. He makes this clear with the statement from Matthew 7:21:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
So while many in the Christian world seems mesmerized by Jesus’ acts of healing, we can understand from his own statements that his intent in healing was to illustrate the power of faith in the Supreme Being, while instructing us to love, cherish and serve the Supreme Being. This means we must humbly submit ourselves to the Supreme Being, and humbly request His mercy.
We must humbly request from the Supreme Being that He allow us to come to know Him, and come to serve Him and do His will. With these humble requests, made with regrets for our previous neglect of Him, and made by the grace of His loving servant Jesus Christ, will be heard by the Supreme Being. If we have faith that the Supreme Being will hear us, the Supreme Being will surely hear us and respond according to the level of our faith. Should we make these statements without faith, however, they will have no avail.
And why is faith so important? Because faith is the first step of the journey of a relationship with God. How can we have a relationship with someone we do not trust?
One of the central designs of the physical world is that we cannot see the Supreme Being with these physical eyes. This is because we rejected Him at some point and rejected the notion of doing His will.
This is the meaning of the apple in the analogy of Adam and Eve: By taking the apple from the "tree of knowledge", Adam went against God's wishes. Learn more about this in Genesis.
Jesus confirms this situation with the statement referenced here:
“I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Here Jesus clarifies that although many will come, expecting to “take their places” in the assembly of heaven, yet many will be tossed “outside.” What is "outside?"
Outside is the physical world, where we live now. Here we live in darkness. How so? The darkness of the physical world is that we cannot, with these physical eyes, see the Supreme Being. And our physical consciousness prevents us from connecting with the Supreme Being. We are in effect, cut off from the spiritual dimension.
The physical world is also a place of suffering. Here people are born in pain, crying (“weeping”). Here we live by struggling, competing and fighting. The physical world is immersed in wars, starvation, terrorism, thievery, dishonesty, disease, aging, and death.
Despite our hopes and wishes to the contrary, the physical world is not a kind place. It is a place of suffering. And depending upon the species or position we are born into, we all experience to some degree, “weeping and gnashing of teeth” here in this temporary physical world.
The physical world is the world where those who have rejected God go. Those who participate in loving, serving relationships with God -- like Abraham, Jacob and Issac -- are sitting at the loving “feast” that exists within the kingdom of God. Those who envy God, however, wanting to be God-like, are the “subjects” who are thrown out.
Jesus’ statements are very clear once we understand the context of loving service to the Supreme Being. When people try to interpret Jesus’ statements with self-centered goals in mind, they speculate that Jesus was making various predictions of the future. This is incorrect.
In the centuries following Jesus, some of these were used by the Church to create fear in the masses, to encourage them go to church and pay tithes. They were used to control the populace. As such, the Roman Church became very wealthy, and its leaders and organizers became powerful people.
This corruption of power also gave rise to an ongoing culture within this institution that led to sexual abuse of young followers. Such is darkness.
Rather, Jesus’ message is quite clear: We will only be happy if we re-develop our loving relationship with the Supreme Being and thus place our focus upon God - acting to please Him.
This and only this will allow us to take our places at the feast in the kingdom of loving service to the Supreme Being.
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)