Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 28-
Capernaum
(18) Centurion’s Servant Healed
(Isaiah 49:12-13) Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10

 

-Matthew-

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. (Matthew 8:5-6)

This is the report of Christ’s curing of the centurion’s servant of a palsy.  The incident took place at Capernaum, where Christ now lived, “And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:” (Matthew 4:13) 

A centurion was a Roman officer; most likely commander-in-chief of the occupying force that was stationed at Capernaum.  Although, this man was a Gentile, he was reputed to be a devout man.  It should be acknowledged that God preserves a remnant, composed of men from all walks of life.  No man will be able to say on the Day of Judgment that I must be exempt because I was a soldier, neither can they say that they must be received because they were religious.  The ransomed of the Lord are more than conquerors and it is very likely that this man was very good.  The Romans, who lived amongst the Jews, by their being there, demonstrated the subjection of the Jews to their Roman masters, but Jesus taught by the act of kindness that He conferred upon him, that we are to be kind to our enemies. 

And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. (Matthew 8:7)

The request by the soldier was received by Christ as a prayer of faith, and for that reason it was effectual and heard as soon as it was put into words.  The response that Jesus gives was short and complete, and showed His willingness to both go with him, even though His presence was not asked for, and to heal the man. 

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.  For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (Matthew 8:8-9)

“The centurion answered and said,”-According to Luke 7:6, “Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:”  Therefore, we know that the words that follow were said by his friends and not the centurion.  Jesus was on His way to the man’s house, accompanied by the Jewish elders, when He was met by the centurion’s friends with this message.  The centurion, who at first sent the delegation, when he learned that Jesus was on the way to his house, joined his friends along the way.  He is so aware of his shamefulness that he deputized someone to speak for him.

“Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof:”-He did not say this to reject the company of Christ, but as an expression of his own unworthiness of having such a great person in his house.  I believe that the man had been an idolater, for that is how the Romans worshipped.  He had most likely lived an irreverent life.  How much more are sinful mortals unworthy that Christ should come into their hearts, and reside there by faith.

“but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.”-These words express his great faith in Christ, and that he believed that He possessed divine power.  He does not say “pray and my servant will be healed”, like he believed that Jesus was a man of God or a prophet, but he said “speak the word and he will be healed”, indicating that he attributed to Him such power as was made known at creation by the command of God.  “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalms 33:9)  He suggests that if He will just speak the slightest word, it will be done.

“For I am a man under authority”-He served under the authority of Caesar, the Roman emperor, and there were superior officers above him.

“having soldiers under me:”-He would have commanded at least a hundred solders, and some of them would have served him as domestics.

“and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh;”-When an officer gives orders to his soldiers, they cannot dispute them, because they are trained to follow orders and bound under penalty to do so.

“and to my servant,”-The domestic servant, employed by him to take care of his requests.

“Do this, and he doeth it.”-His servants responded immediately to every demand.  The same is true of those solders that he commanded.  But he did not say this to keep Jesus from coming to his house or because he felt that he was not good enough to have him there; instead he insinuates that as soldiers are under him, and respond to his commands; so are all bodily diseases under Christ, and can be controlled by Him, and if He would only speak to the palsy that his servant has, He could remove it at once.

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Matthew 8:10)

“When Jesus heard it, he marvelled,”-This response could only belong to His human side, because nothing could ever surprise God, and since He knows all things, He would not be astounded at anything.  However, this reaction could have been meant to elevate the awareness and amazement of those around Him.

“and said to them that followed,”-Our Lord had set out for the officer’s house with the messengers and his disciples, along with those that wanted to see the miracle.

“Verily I say unto you,”-Jesus frequently used these words when He was about to say something that was of great importance, and He wanted the attention of those around Him.

“I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”- That is to say, among the people of Israel; except for the patriarchs and prophets and His disciples and there would without doubt have been other outstanding believers that should be excluded.  Few men, if any, had shown evidence of such great faith as this man, to this point in His ministry.  It is even more incredible, because it came from a Gentile and a soldier.

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:11)

“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west,”-Jesus used this occasion to assert to His followers that the faith that they saw in the centurion, would be seen in the future, in millions of Gentiles.  Gentiles will be drawn from the four corners of the earth, and they would come to believe in Him through the preaching of the Gospel, “And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29)  It was predicted that the Gentiles would be included in the Kingdom hundreds of years earlier by Isaiah, “Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.  Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:12-13)

“and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”-This signifies that many would come to believe in Him, because the Gospel would be given to all the nations, in just a short time.  Just like Abraham, and the other patriarchs, they will receive the blessings of grace; adoption, justification, and pardon from sin.  “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” (Galatians 3:9)  The lesson that He teaches His disciples on this occasion is that the faith of the Old and New Testament saints is the same and that they are blessed the same, they have the same God and Father, the same Mediator, they are motivated by the same Spirit and they shall share in the same grace and glory.  The Jews, at this time thought that it was a transgression to set at a meal with Gentiles, but Christ asserts that Gentile believers will set down with the great men of faith that were in old times, the leaders of the Jewish nation.

“But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12)

“But the children of the kingdom”-The Jews, who were at this time, the subjects of the Kingdom, and members of the church of God.

“shall be cast out”-In just a few years the Jews will be expelled from the land of Israel.  They were also turned out of the church of God: their branches broken off and the Gentiles grafted in.

“into outer darkness:”-They were thrown into the Gentile world, and their minds were darkened to the truth of the Gospel.

“there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”-This expression is used often by our Lord to express the wretched condition of persons that are out of the Kingdom of Heaven, who weep because of all they have lost.

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. (Matthew 8:13)

“And Jesus said unto the centurion,”-Jesus had put off speaking to the centurion, to talk about the future of the church, which will be composed of mostly Gentiles, but now He once more speaks to the centurion.

“Go thy way;”-He does not speak this way, because He is displeased with him, but because He is going to grant his request.

“and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.”-He had believed that Christ could heal his servant by speaking a word; therefore it was done for that reason.  Christ had said let him be healed, and he was healed; just as God had said “let there be light”, and there was light.  Note, that He did not say according to thy prayer, or according to thy righteousness and goodness, but according to thy faith.  It should also be acknowledged that this miracle was done for the sake if the centurion, so that his servant could be restored to him for his personal use.

“And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.”-When he returned to his house, he discovered that his servant had been healed at the exact time that Jesus pronounced him healed.

 

-Luke-

Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. (Luke 7:1)

Jesus had come once again to his own city, because Capernaum was where He made His home.  There was a multitude of common people with Him, as well as His disciples. 

And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. (Matthew 7:2)

The centurion was believed to be an honest, upright believer in Christ.  We are not told how he came to believe, but his actions make it obvious that he had great faith.  His servant was extremely sick with the palsy and his condition was desperate, because there was no hope for him from a human source.

And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. (Luke 7:3)

He heard that Jesus had come to Capernaum, and he knew of the miracles that He had done in another place.  He did not feel worthy to go to Jesus personally; therefore he sent a delegation consisting of the principle officers of the city where he lived.  They went because he had most likely done some great service for the people of the town.  Some believe that he had built them a synagogue.  They pleaded with Jesus to come to his house and heal his servant, or just to speak the words of healing or to do whatever He should choose to do, because this man believed, without a doubt, that Christ had the power to heal.

And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: (Matthew 7:4)

The messengers were very forceful in their appeal to Jesus on behalf of the centurion.  The man may have been humble and therefore held a much lower opinion of himself than did his agents, who held him in high regard.

For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. (Luke 7:5)

Christ was a Jew, and their nation was His nation also.  Here we begin to see why the Jews had a fondness for this particular Gentile.  It was highly unusual for a Jew to be fond of a Gentile, or for a Gentile to like a Jew, for there was a hostility that existed between them.  However, there was good feeling in this case, possibly because he was a proselyte to their religion.  That may be the case, because he obviously had built them a synagogue at his own expense.

Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: (Luke 7:6)

Jesus went with them at once, after hearing their request.  And when He was nearby to the house where the sick servant was being cared for, the centurion received notice that He was approaching, and because of his great humility and his conscientiousness of his own unworthiness, he sent messengers to prevent Him coming to the house.  It could be that he knew of the Jewish law that prohibited a Jew to enter the house of a Gentile, and even though he was a proselyte he felt that he was not good enough for such a great person to lower himself, by coming to him.

Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed (Matthew 7:7)

He believed that it would be wrong for him to meet Jesus personally, because he held our Lord in such great reverence, therefore he sent the elders of the Jews to him first, and now some of his friends are sent, and they carried his words to Jesus.  He said, “Speak the words only, rebuke the disease, command it to be gone, and it will leave.”  This declaration of his great faith in Christ was powerful, to be sure.

For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (Luke 7:8)

A centurion would have been under the authority of a tribune, who would be beneath the emperor or the Roman Senate.  Therefore, when he said, “For I also am a man set under authority”, he is not magnifying himself, but he is making less of himself; and the since is that even though he is a lesser officer, that he yields great power over his soldiers and over the Jewish people.  This man was use to giving orders and having them obeyed, but he believed that Christ could just as easily revoke the temperature that was killing his servant, and it would leave.

When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Luke 7:9)

I find that Jesus paid very few men compliments, because all men are sinners and could never merit His goodwill, but this is a true compliment, that our Lord “marveled at him.”  He marveled at his great humility and modesty, and at the strength of his faith, and at his way of reasoning.  He took hold of the man and placed him where all those present could see him and hear His words.  Then He paid the complement, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” 

And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick. (Luke 7:10)

They returned to the house, the elders of the Jews and the friends of the centurion, to learn that the servant was restore to health.  This miracle added to his mounting reputation, and if men are known by their fruits, then Jesus was drawing the attention of more and more men, because of His great works and through His preaching of the Kingdom of God.

 


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