From: Su Min
Subject: Faithful Centurion
(Strong's concordance #4941: mishpachah: "mish-paw-khaw" tribe, people, family)
Today we turn to Matt 8:5-13 to read of the healing of the servant of the Faithful Centurion. A parallel passage is found in Luke 7:1-10 and reading both passages helps us get a better understanding of this miracle and its implications.
From Luke 7:1 we read that the incident occurs just after the sermon on the Mount, as Jesus enters Capernaum. (We can assume that the healing of the leper has already taken place, but Luke does not record it).
Combining Luke 7:2 and Matt 8:6, we know that the Faithful Centurion had a servant and the servant was highly valued, lying in bed at home, terribly suffering, paralysed, sick and about to die.
- The Centurion was a leader in the Roman army, in charge of a hundred soldiers.
- There was usually much enmity between the Roman soldiers and the Jewish people.
- But this Roman Centurion was different: Although a Gentile, he loved the Jewish people, and had built for them a synagogue (Luke 7:5). He was friendly with the Jewish elders, on such good terms with them that he could ask them to plead earnestly to Jesus to heal his servant. ( Luke 7:3-4).
The Centurion had heard of Jesus (Luke 7:3), and must have know of his healing powers. The Centurion was modest, and although Matthew records that He asked Jesus to heal his servant, in Luke we read that this approach was indirect: Not daring to appeal to Jesus directly, the Centurion had asked the Jewish elders to approach Jesus (Luke 8:3) to ask that Jesus might healed the valued sick and suffering paralysed servant. So good is the rapport of the Faithful Centurion with the Jewish elders that they effectively pleading earnestly his cause for him, testifying that the Centurion deserves the attention of Jesus for he loved the Jewish nation and has built a synagogue for them (Luke 7:4-5)
Jesus showed compassion for the sick servant and agreed to go along "I will go and heal him" (Matt 8:7, Luke 7:6).
Jesus was not far from the Centurion's house when a message of great faith and humility is delivered, not quite directly from the mouth of the Centurion as Matt 8:8 would have us understand, but through the intermediary of friends, perhaps from the very same group of elders first sent to ask Jesus, or other similar respectable Jews.
He understood that Jesus had authority over all things, and the healing could be commanded, just by saying the word, without Jesus having to be physically present by the side of the sick servant.
- "Lord, do not trouble yourself (Luke 7:6)"
- "I do not deserve to have you come under my roof (Matt 8:6: Luke 7:6)".
- "That is why I did not consider myself worthy to come to you (Luke 7:6)"
- The Centurion, a Gentile, addresses Jesus as Lord.
- The Centurion is so humble that he does not dare to accept the glory of having such an illustrious visitor in his own house, under his own roof.
- Not that going to Jesus is beneath his dignity, but much so the reverse, so great the humility of the Centurion that he durst not approach the Great Physician directly, but only through an intermediary.
- "Do not trouble yourself to come into my house, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed (Matt 8:8, Luke 7:7)".
- The Centurion goes on to reveal his great faith and spiritual insight.
- "Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me"
- He, a military man with considerable authority, has a hundred soldiers at his command. They obey his every command right away without question. Go, Come, Stop, Stand, Sit, Shoot, Attack, Retreat, whatever.
- "I say 'do this' and he does it (Matt 8:9, Luke 7:8)"
(But how are the millions from the East going to gain a place at the banquet if they have not heard the good news? And how are they going to hear the good news if no one tells them. And how shall they preach if they are not sent..
- When Jesus heard these bold trusting words he was astonished and amazed (Matt 8:10, Luke 7:9). Turning to the crowd following him, Jesus declares "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone with such great faith even in Israel (Matt 8:10, Luke 7:9)"
- This faithful Gentile (non-Jew) Centurion has shown more faith than any Jew Jesus has so far encountered anywhere in Israel.
- Jesus goes on to say that there will be many more faithful Gentiles who will gain a place at the heavenly banquet, Chinese included.
- "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west (reference point Jerusalem) and will take their place at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 8:11)
As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things. (Romans 10:15) Pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in China. Do you feel the burden for China?).
Inheritance of Jewish identity is not good enough to gain salvation. A personal submission to the lordship of Christ is required. Many of the "subjects of the kingdom" (here referring to the Jews, but also in present day context to many superficial Christians,) will be thrown outside.
will be thrown out.. not enjoying the warmth, the brightness, the food, the fellowship, the rejoicing of the wedding feast of Christ and His bride, but instead cast out of the banquet room into the bitter cold and dark outside, lonely, bitter, regretting, wailing, weeping and gnashing of teeth.. too late for regret, too late to repent.. the door has closed, the chasm can not be crossed. You have to decide before hand. Will you accept Jesus as Lord or will you let the father of lies claim your soul? Can you have faith as simple as deep and as strong as the Faithful Centurion?
- Sunday Christians: holy holy on Sunday, but lead a devil of a life the other 6 days a week,
- pew warmers: cold hearts, warm bums,
- thrice a lifetime church goers: for baptism, marriage & burial
- C&E Christians: seen in church every Christmas and Easter
- Disaster Christians: pray fervently at times of disaster, earthquake, severe illness, exam time, but when going gets good, forget about God
- The list goes on but you know who I mean...
Jesus, having acknowledged the faith of the Faithful Centurion, says "Go! It will be done just as you have believed it would." And his servant was healed that very hour (Matt 8:13).The men returned to the house and found the servant well (Luke 7:10).
The deep faith of the centurion is something we want to emulate. His humility is something we can learn. His respect for Jesus is an example for us to copy. His love for the Jewish people and his financial contributions to them mark out for us exemplary behaviour. He, a gentile, earning a place at the banquet with Abraham Isaac and Jacob, gives us as gentiles great encouragement. Those failing to reach the standard be warned of the wailing and gnashing and the everlasting torment, and the fire that burns and cannot be quenched.
- What can we learn from this bible text?
- Can it be that if we ask for healing and believe enough it will happen?
- I understand that that is one school of thought. But too simple. Tends towards a gospel of health and wealth. If this were true if we all believed and we all prayed for healing, then there would be no more sickness at least amongst believers and we would all would live for thousands of years and would not die. But we are a fallen people and we live in a fallen world. We are destined to die mortal death. I do believe God hears our prayers, and there are times when a miraculous cure is within his perfect plan. We should learn to pray for his will to be done, while not being shy to put forward intercessions for the sick.
Shall we pray
Almighty God, thank you for this lesson today.
Thank you Father for touching the heart of the Gentile Roman Centurion that he may be an inspiration for us.
Thank you Father for accepting us to the great banquet.
Help us to so order our lives that we will not stray off the straight and narrow path, but by hiding your word in our hearts we may learn to ever walk with you.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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