When the centurion asks Jesus to heal his valued slave, the narrative explores whether the centurion is “worthy.” The Jewish elders speak up for this Roman outsider and say he has proven his worthiness by his goodness to the Jews. In contrast, the centurion himself says he is not worthy of Jesus’ presence.
The story invites us to contemplate what we believe about our own worth and that of others. In the centurion’s place, would we feel worthy of Jesus’ presence and help? Who would we find to speak up on our behalf? People have an endless variety of ways to estimate their worth, secretly or openly. Good deeds, church involvement, spiritual practices, and strength of belief are common ways for Christians. People also count up their accomplishments or tally their “net worth” financially, as if life—and even God—were all about keeping score. But what kind of score would really be enough?
The Greek word for “worthy” in Luke 7:6 means “sufficient.” Despite God’s promise that grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9) and that Jesus’ work on the cross is enough, the very human questions persist: How do we know when we are worthy of rest, love, esteem, or salvation? The centurion reveals a paradox of Christian faith: as sinners we are not worthy of God’s salvation, but as redeemed saints we know that Jesus deemed us all worth saving, through grace alone.
Luke’s story presents an opportunity to proclaim God’s grace unequivocally once again: there is nothing we could do, and no score we could add up, that could make us worthy, but through Jesus, we are enfolded in God’s saving love. In this good news we can find healing and rest.