We live in a society that is all about earning. All about deserving something. You do this you get that, you don't do it you don't deserve it, you shouldn't get it. That idea surrounds us all day. You get what you pay for. Your performance is appraised and rewarded or not and so on.
Verse 4-5 are fascinating. The Centurion's servant is ill and he is highly valued so the Centurion prevails on the Jewish elders of Capernaum to go to see Jesus on his behalf. Here's what they say to Jesus "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." It's easy to see the way they think isn't it - he deserves it, he is worthy of this healing because of what he has done. Interestingly Luke records Jesus went with them.
But what happens next shows us that is not the attitude of the Centurion, while Jesus is still some way off he sends friends who say "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed." How different the attitude of the Centurion. He doesn't claim he is worthy of this, he says he isn't even worthy to come to see Jesus himself. But if Jesus just says the word his servant will be healed. It is no wonder Jesus exclaims he hasn't even found faith like this in Israel.
This man is humble, he sees himself as unworthy, undeserving of an audience with Jesus let alone deserving of a miracle on his behalf. And he asks Jesus to be merciful and trusts in his power even at a distance. And Jesus is both merciful as he heals them man and powerful as he does so immediately and remotely.
This account challenges our expectations, our culturally moulded ways of thinking. We do not deserve to come into Jesus presence, let alone be so loved by him that he dies in our place for our sins. We are not worthy of being redeemed and adopted by him and yet that is what we are by grace. How can we, given the grace and mercy we are shown, be anything but humble in the way we treat others? How can we be anything but loving and gracious and merciful in the way we respond to them? And how can we be but grateful and thankful to the one who did all this so us when we were his enemies?