Text Matthew 8:5-13
5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him 6and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.’ 7And he said to him, ‘I
will come and cure him.’ 8The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes,
and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave
does it.’ 10When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who
followed him, ‘Truly I tell you, in no one* in Israel have I found
such faith. 11I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with
Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12while the heirs of the
kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.’ 13And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go; let it be done for you
according to your faith.’ And the servant was healed in that hour.
The text is a familiar story of Jesus healing the centurion’s
servant. A centurion is a Roman soldier who is often in charge of 50-100
soldiers. It was common knowledge that centurion’s often had male companions
who helped them in a variety of ways. The Greek word used in
Matthew’s account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais.
In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending
upon the context in which it was used. It could mean “son or boy;” it could
mean “servant,” or it could mean a particular type of servant — one who was
“his master’s male lover.”
What do you think is remarkable about this text?
How does the story change for you if the soldier is asking
Jesus to heal his male lover?
Paula Northwood/Minister of Education
Plymouth Congregational Church
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