When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.
2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed 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.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
This is a great story. Jesus marveled. At a Roman centurion's faith. Imagine that. And here are some Jewish elders saying "This is a good guy. He deserves this. Help him out, even though he's a Roman. He's been good to us and this would be a nice reward for what he's done for us."
But that isn't why Jesus healed the servant. Not because the Roman was a good guy who deserved something good in return. Not because the Jewish elders asked.
From Mark Driscoll's sermon:
They [the religious leaders] go to Jesus and say, “You owe this guy. “He’s worthy because he was really nice to us, and he built our church.” And see, religious people tend to work this way. They feel like if they sin, they owe God, so they have to pay him back through their good works, through going to purgatory, karma, reincarnation, suffering. But if they do good, they feel like God owes them. They’re always keeping score.
Religious people tend to think this, and even if you don’t think this, you know you’re a bit religious when you’re suffering or life is damaging, or hurtful, or harmful, or painful, or strife-filled, and you become disappointed with, and embittered against God. “God, you owed me, and you did not deliver.” You may not say that, but any sort of bitterness or disappointment with God is a declaration toward God that you did good, and he owed you, and he didn’t come through, because you assume that God owes you. God owes no one nothing. God gave us life and breath on the earth, and we sinned against God, we rebelled against God, and God is obligated to no one.
Additionally, we see that he is very considerate. He sends the elders to meet with Jesus, not to disrespect him. Additionally, he’s a very humble man. As Jesus is approaching his home, he sends out additional servants and he says, “I am unworthy to have you, Lord Jesus, into my home.” How many of you, if Jesus said, “I’m coming to your house,” immediately your thought would be, “Yes. This is gonna be great. I’m gonna get a photo with him, put him on Facebook. I’m gonna have tons of friends. This is gonna be great.” And this man is so humble, even as Jesus is coming to his house, he says, “You know what? I don’t need to waste Jesus’ time. Jesus is very important. He’s got a lot of things to do, lot of people to see. Yeah, I’m an affluent man. I’m a generous man. I’m a powerful man. I’m a strong man, but I’m not worthy to enjoy friendship with that man, Jesus.” Very humble.