Day 66: Matthew 8:7
I will go and make him well.
Jesus has just finished his Sermon on the Mount when he is approached by a Roman officer who begs him for help. The officer says, “Sir, my servant is sick in bed at home, unable to move and suffering terribly.” Jesus replies with these words- “I will go and make him well.”
What an unusual situation! Roman occupation of Jerusalem and the territory where Jesus lived began in 63 BC, so the Jews in Jesus’ time lived under the domination of the Roman Empire. In this story a powerful Roman soldier is begging a poor Jew for help. He is obviously desperate to get help for his servant, for whom he apparently has great compassion. So desperate that he asks a Jewish healer for help.
Remember the popular classroom exercise “Show and Tell”? This is an example “Tell and Show.” Jesus gives his disciples theories and paradigms in the Sermon on the Mount, and then immediately goes out shows them how these can be demonstrated in the real world. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus doesn’t just give us a lot of impractical lofty ideals. When Jesus speaks it’s not just a lot of hot air.
In this encounter with the Roman soldier several Sermon on the Mount principles are demonstrated; I have included a reference to the day in my blog where I reflect on each scripture listed.
- Even though the Roman is one of the occupation troops, Jesus goes out of his way to heal the soldier’s servant. He goes the extra mile. (See Day 32: Matthew 5:40-41 – And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles.)
- While many Jews of his day generally regarded the Romans as their enemies, Jesus demonstrates his love for both the Roman soldier and the servant. Jesus doesn’t let the soldier’s life circumstances interfere with his love for them. (See Day 34: Matthew 5:43-45a – You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.)
- Healing is a gift from God. It falls like the sunshine on both good and evil people. Jesus demonstrates that God wants to heal everyone. (See See Day 35: Matthew 5:45b-46 – For he [God] makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that!)
- Jesus doesn’t have any problem with talking to a Roman. He speaks to him just like anyone else. (See Day 36: Matthew 5:47 – And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!)
- Jesus doesn’t judge the Roman soldier or ask him to convert to Judaism before he offers to heal his servant. (See Day 54: Matthew 7:1-2 – Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.)
- Jesus responds compassionately to the soldier’s desire to have the servant healed. (See Day 59: Matthew 7:12 – Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.)
So there are at least are 6 ways that Jesus demonstrates the love in action that is the underlying theme of the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe you can think of more. I think that if Jesus had not followed his own teachings, things could have ended very differently. If Jesus had shunned or humiliated the soldier it’s possible that he might have become enraged and harmed Jesus or his disciples. Also, the servant would not have been healed. Instead there was peace, harmony, good will, and health.
One thing is for sure, Jesus shows us that even though the Sermon on the Mount has lofty principles, it’s really very down to earth advice that brings heavenly results.
What does this scripture say to you?