The Centurian's Servant HealedVolume 3, Number 12
Created Date: January 24, 2009
Posted Date: January 24, 2009
A Centurion's Faith, Part 2:
Our last study pointed out the first time the Greek word “pistis,” translated with our English noun “faith,” is found in the New Testament: “When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”. Jesus was talking about a Centurion who asked Him to heal his servant who was at another location. (See ) We noted the anomaly of this man's faith to the intent of Jesus' ministry, i.e., the Centurion was a Gentile and Jesus Himself said “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” b.
Here we will examine Luke's account of this same incident,. Although a cursory comparison of the account in Matthew and the one in Luke might lead some to believe they describe two different Centurions under similar circumstances they do not. Both describe the same Centurion and incident. This is an example of how the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of men came together to produce the Scripture. Matthew and Luke saw and recorded this incident according to their own perspectives under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We have already noted that Matthew was a tax collector and saw things from a governmental standpoint thus he was used to write his account with a view toward Jesus as Israel's King. Therefore it follows that only in Matthew's account, after Jesus noted the Centurions great faith, we learn an important prediction He made: “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. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” . Jesus explains here that some Gentiles are to be saved into His Kingdom but just because the Jews were God's chosen people, that is, the children of the kingdom did not mean every individual Jew was going to be saved unto eternal life. (An individual Jew had to approach God in faith in order to enter the Kingdom.)
Comparing Matthew to Luke: whereas we might assume from Matthew that the Centurion approached Jesus in person Luke indicates he sent elders of the Jews as emissaries to ask Jesus to heal his servant. Whereas Matthew indicates the servant was grievously tormented with the palsy, Luke writes he was sick near death. Luke states that the emissaries told Jesus the Centurion was worthy for Jesus to grant his request because the Centurion loved the Nation of Israel and had built them a synagogue but Matthew does not mention this. Matthew indicates that when Jesus told the Centurion He would go with him to the servant the Centurion answered that he was not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof but all Jesus had to do was speak the word and the servant would be healed. Luke wrote that Jesus went with the Jewish Elders to the Centurion's house but when they drew near the Centurion apparently saw them and sent friends to tell Jesus he was not worthy for Jesus to come into his house and he knew from his experience (as a Roman Commander of men) that all Jesus had to do was say a word and the servant would be healed. At this point Luke states that Jesus made the statement He had not found such great faith in all of Israel. Luke's account goes on to indicate that when the Centurion's friends returned to his house the servant was healed. Luke 7:1 - 10.
Luke was a Doctor and God used him to present Jesus as God's perfect Man for Jesus was the Man of men, He was/is the second Adam. And whereas the first Adam brought death upon all his progeny the second Adam, Jesus Christ the God-Man brought life to all who believe on Him,.
When Jesus ministered on earth for 3 years the great majority of Israel's leaders did not understand or believe He came from God to fulfill prophesy in the Old Testament about their Messiah. They were very well versed in the Scriptures but the problem was that they did not live in humble obedience of faith in God's Word and Law. “They” lived in their own self-righteousness. “They” had the Scriptures and “they” followed the law and this made “them” righteous. All was centered in “themselves.”
And so it was that they rejected Jesus Christ and ultimately had Him crucified. (Before God reached down and saved the Apostle Paul he was a perfect example of the Jewish leaders in general, see.)
On the other hand we can see from what is recorded about the Centurion that he knew and believed the one true God was the God of Israel and Jesus was from God; that Jesus was Israel's Messiah; that Jesus strictly adhered to the law of Moses; that he, as a gentile was unclean next to the righteousness of Jesus.
The Centurion had life or death authority over the men in his command and when he told them to do something they did it. He had faith Jesus possessed similar power over life and death itself and all Jesus had to do was say a word and his servant would be healed. “Faith by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,”, therefore the Centurion had heard the Word of God and had faith therein.
The Centurion really believed he was not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof because he knew God's law and believed it. He had friends among the Jewish leaders because he built them a synagogue. Since he had done this for them they obliged him when he asked them to petition Jesus to heal his servant. As to whether these particular Jewish Elders believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, we do not know. They may have or their motive to assist could have been to stay in the good favor of one of the top policemen in the community who had favored them.
Today many well-educated people and/or religious people, etc., have taken the saying “if you can't say something nice about someone then don't say anything at all” to the extreme. They speak well of those they address, whether true or false. They do this in order to make the person or persons to whom they speak feel well about themselves and have positive feelings about the one addressing them.
We see this in politicians but it is also prevalent in many preachers who tell their congregations how wonderful and giving they all are while thinking to themselves what a bunch of cheap skinflints sit before them. Not so with Jesus, He spoke the truth clearly and when He made the statement He had not seen so much faith in all of Israel as in this Centurion, it was not a mere platitude, it was fact.
Jesus was the Word of God incarnate,, and “... the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
. The two-edged sword cut both ways in the instant case. On the one hand Jesus discerned the Centurion's faith and on the other hand He observed something very dismal: “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matthew 8:10. Jesus knew His people's hearts during the 3 years He reached out and ministered to them. He knew about the terrible death He was going to experience, ... because of their lack of faith. He was truly a Man of sorrows. But he loved His people as no other could and so as He hung on the cross with final breath: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do ...” .
Our questions from the last study remain. Was this Centurion saved unto eternal life? Was he a proselyte and did he follow the law in faith? To be continued.