Isaiah 2,1-5 All nations will come to this mountain
Matthew 8:5-11: The Roman centurion at Capernaum.
In 8th century Jerusalem Isaiah makes glowing promises about the holy mountain, Jerusalem– all people will come there. At the same time, Assyrian armies rumble into Palestine. “What are you talking about?” people say, “Can’t you see what’s at the door?”. But the prophet insists they will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks and there will be no wars any more.
The prophet continues making outrageous promises. There will be a cloud by day and a fire by night over this holy mountain. The mountain’s moving, on an exodus of its own. Wonderful imagery for solid institutions, like churches and nations, that have been around for centuries. You’re still on the move, and God will guide you.
The Assyrians must have had the equivalent of the Roman centurions as the backbone of their armies. If you can get to them, you’ve got the army, military analysts would say. Powerful men, loyal soldiers. They could tell their troops: “Lay down your swords and spears,” and it would be done.
The Roman centurion in today’s gospel comes humbly before Jesus. “Lord, I am not worthy that you come under my roof, but say the word and my servant will be healed.” He comes with a faith not found in Israel.
The Messiah will touch the proud and the strong. The centurion is one of them.