The Centurion understood authority. He had slaves. Slaves do what they are told.
Do I get this? Do I do what my Master Jesus tells me to do? Am I obedient?
This is essential. Jesus knows it. Matthew knew it and included this in his account to drive the point home.
“For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” | Matthew 8:9
A centurion was an officer over 100 men in the Roman army. Every centurion mentioned in the Good News books and Acts was a gentleman of high character and sense of duty, and this man was no exception. The fact that he was concerned about a lowly servant-boy indicates this. The word “palsy” indicates a kind of paralysis.
It would seem that everything about this man would prevent him from coming to Jesus. He was a professional soldier, and Jesus was a Man of peace. He was a Gentile, and Jesus was a Jew. But this soldier had one thing working for him: he was a man of great faith.
This centurion understood that Jesus, like himself, was under authority. All the Messiah had to do was speak the word and the disease would obey Him the way a soldier obeyed his officer. It is worth noting that only those who are under authority have the right to exercise authority.
Twice in the in the Good News books it is recorded that Jesus marveled: here, at the great faith of the Gentile centurion; and in Mark 6:6, at the great unbelief of the Jews.
Matthew recorded two “Gentile” miracles: this one, and the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Matt. 15:21–28). In both cases, the Master was impressed with their great faith. This is an early indication that the Jews would not believe, but the Gentiles would. Also, in both of these miracles, our Master healed from a distance. This was a reminder of the spiritual position of the Gentiles “afar off” (Eph. 2:12).