When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, "He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue." (Luke 7:4, 5 NASB)
Worthy. The word translated here as worthy (axios) is sometimes used to mean "having the weight of another thing of like value". In the eyes of the Jewish elders, the good deeds of the centurion had equal weight to the healing of the servant that they were requesting. What good deeds would be that weighty? The centurion loved Israel, presumably treating them kindly instead of as a conquering officer might. In addition, he had built them a synagogue, the ruins of which are still visible today.
I've stood in the ruins of that synagogue, and it is beautiful. At the time of Jesus, when it was still a new building, it must have been astoundingly grand to the people in that simple little town. Even if the work was done by the soldiers under the command of the centurion, it would have been a tremendous expense. That synagogue was a "good deed", no doubt about it.
When we compare Christ's righteousness and our unrighteousness, however, it becomes clear that none of us are worthy. In fact, Paul wrote that very thing. "As it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one;"(Romans 3:10 NASB)
He was quoting from a passage in Psalms that sums up the whole question of worthiness quite nicely.
"The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalms 14:2, 3 NASB)
When God looks at us, not one among us has the understanding He desires for us. Not one of us is good. Not a single one of us. Not me. Not you. Not even the kind and generous centurion.
When we understand this simple concept, we have taken the first step in understanding the tremendous mercy and grace with which our Lord has treated us. Understanding our own unworthiness should give us a heart filled with compassion for those who are as unworthy as we to receive the love of Christ, yet equally in need.
Today, pray that we and our loved ones would grasp the vast difference between our unworthiness and Christ's great worth and be overwhelmed by the mercy and grace He has shown to us.
The link to last night's post is here: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/04/tornado-in-tupeloreport-from-safe-room.html