When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him to ask his help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!’ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!’ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was astonished, and said to those who were following him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown out into extreme darkness; there they will wail and grind their teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the captain, “Go home now. As you believed, so let it be.” And at that moment his servant was healed. Jesus went to Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her; she got up and began to wait on him.
Towards evening they brought to Jesus many people possessed by evil spirits, and with a word he drove out the spirits. He also healed all who were sick. In this way, what was said by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled: He bore our infirmities and took on himself our diseases.
Jesus, in anticipation of the future mission to the Gentiles, starts here with ministry to non-Israelites. The words of the centurion have the power of a command and he attributes the same power to Jesus’ words. In return, Jesus contrasted this pagan’s “faith” in him with the lack of faith of religious authorities. He used this scenario to stress about the outsiders (Gentiles) who are now the privileged people and the insiders (the Chosen People) who deny God in Jesus. Hence, there will be at the final reckoning a wailing and grinding of teeth.
There is always a tension between insiders and outsiders. In ancient mystery religions and cults of ancient Greece and Egypt, secrets are revealed only to the insiders. The outsiders are kept in the dark. Mystery, from Greek, mystes, one who has been initiated, is associated with magic which keeps secrets away from outsiders. There are three surprises in heaven: 1) you will be surprised that the people (insiders) you expect to be in heaven are not there; 2) you will be surprised that the people (outsiders) you do not expect to be in heaven are there; 3) you will be surprised that you are there.
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