Just as we have done for generations, we gather the Corps of Cadets in Wicker Chapel throughout each week to hear the Word of God and the Gospel message presented from the pulpit. Today, I had the privilege of delivering the message at chapel.
All FUMA Cadets, with Bibles in hand, learned about the faith of the centurion from Matthew 8: 5-13. The verses were read by our Cadet Chaplain, Cadet Jackson Pretus of Charlottesville, Virginia. Cadet Pretus is a senior and will be attending college at William & Mary in a special international degree program in partnership with the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland.
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”Matthew 8:5-13 (NIV)
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 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. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 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. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
I'm sure that many cadets heard the inspiring story of the centurion for the first time today. The centurion was an officer of the Roman army and likely had up to a hundred Roman soldiers under his command, kind of like a Company Commander in our Corps of Cadets. At this time, these Roman soldiers governed (and often subjugated) the Jewish people.
The meeting between the centurion and Jesus was remarkable...and radical. The Roman centurion had many obstacles to overcome in approaching Jesus with his special request: cultural awkwardness, distance, political pressure, and his servant was at home suffering in horrible agony. He asked Jesus to simply say the word, just as the centurion might issue a command to his own soldiers...and he knew that his servant would be healed.
Such great faith! Jesus healed the centurion's servant without going to his house. So great was the centurion's faith it was credited to him for good. What obstacles hold us back from having a faith like this?
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.Hebrews 11:1
Faith is believing. It is one of the core values we teach at FUMA: respect, integrity, faith, character, and discipline. Faith gives us hope. Hope is our encouragement to press on in life believing, in faith, in God's promises. The centurion had great faith, faith that got him out of his comfort zone. Faith matters. Have faith.
Have faith like the centurion.
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
Fork Union Military Academy