After Jesus had finished saying all these things in the hearing of the people, he went to Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom he valued highly, was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to co me and save his servant’s life. So they went to Jesus and begged him repeatedly, “He deserves to have this done for him, because he loves our people and built our synagogue for us.” So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to tell Jesus, “Sir, stop troubling yourself. For I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. That’s why I didn’t presume to come to you. But just say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority and have soldiers under me. I say to one ‘Go’ and he goes, to another ‘Come’ and he comes, and to my servant ‘Do this’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found this kind of faith!” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant in perfect health.Luke 7:1-10
Comparing Luke’s account with Matthew’s helps you to see the changes or the uniqueness of Luke’s story and what he wants to say. What is Luke’s point in arranging things like he has? Let’s begin to build up the pieces of what he has written. I started you off yesterday pointing out the link. “After Jesus had finished saying all these things in the hearing of the people, he went to Capernaum.” Luke makes a strong connection between the end of the Sermon on the Plateau and the healing of the Centurion’s servant. After He (Jesus) had finished saying “these things”, we encounter the Centurion. I suggested you look for the connection between the Centurion and what Jesus said.
What is the X factor?
What is so remarkable about this centurion?
This man is a hekatontarchou, a leader of hundreds. He has a position in the Roman army where he leads a company of 100 soldiers. A soldier, a leader and man who knows how to manage other people. Luke expressly calls his servant, a servant (doulos) whereas Matthew calls him a boy (pais). Then Luke adds that this “servant boy” was “entimos” which means honoured respected, held in high esteem. He was precious and valuable to the centurion. He is a man who values people and cares about them. That is clear from how he acts with his “servant”. It would be so easy for him to let his rank go to his head and lord it over other people. That is what most often happens. But this man cares for his servant boy. Remarkable. This man started well from a good foundation with a sane balanced view of himself.
Do you value your servant or your worker as a person or do you treat them like a servant? Use things; love people. Don’t use people and love things.
This centurion’s servant was at the point of death. He was so sick he was likely to die any time. The centurion had heard of Jesus. Where had he got the news from? The news had come to him but Luke doesn’t tell us specifically how. He was stationed in Capernaum and Jesus has been ministering around Galiee and Capernaum. It is not hard to figure how he would hear the news. Further more he was supportive of the Jews and Judaism. In Luke’s account we are made aware that this centurion sent Jewish leaders to Jesus on his behalf but then later he sends friends as well. He is so keen to have Jesus heal his servant. HIS SERVANT.
Did he think the Jewish leaders would have more influence with Jesus than if he went to Him himself? Hard to say but something was going on in his mind to influence him to send the Jewish leaders. Luke puts the words [parakaleo] request, implore, beg, beseech and [spoudaios] earnestly, zealously, urgently together. They really want this to happen for this centurion. He has made such an impression on them to make them want to do anything for him.
They say he is worthy [axios] or of suitable reputation to be granted his request. There are two evidences for his worthiness.
1. He loves [agapao] our nation – people and Judaism. Willing to sacrifice with agape love.
2. He himself built our synagogue – this is very emphatic.
Does it mean he funded the building from his own money (less likely) or by virtue of his leadership accomplished it at the expense of Rome (more likely)? But either way a significant gesture to the Jewish community from a Roman soldier. Furthermore, they say “our synagogue”. Which includes Jesus. The synagogue in Capernaum: this is Jesus general home area but He comes from Nazareth. Assumedly there was a synagogue in Nazareth as well. How does this represent Jesus’ synagogue too? You work it out, I won’t dwell on this minor point. It is clear they are looking to connect Jesus to this centurion in order than He might grant his request.
When Jesus is not far from house he sends the friends to ask Jesus not to come to house. It is likely that the centurion was aware of the Jewish laws about visiting a gentiles house. If He entered a Gentile house He would make Himself ceremonially unclean. What is more important is that he describes himself as unworthy whereas the Jewish delegation describe him as worthy. Is it this humility and willingness to have the right attitude of himself that attracts Jesus attention? He is filled with a sense of personal unworthiness. That heart attitude will always attract Jesus compassion. He didn’t want to presume to come to Jesus with the request neither did he consider himself worthy for Jesus to enter his house. Instead he says “Just say the word [logos]. Simply speak the word, command with a word and the boy will be healed without personal contact. What does he know that the Jews don’t? There is something remarkable about this but I will deal with it in the following Gem because it needs more time. If I add it to this Gem it will make this one extra long. Time to stop and let the thought simmer over night.
Until we accept and approve of ourselves, no amount of approval from others will keep us permanently secure.Joyce Meyer
One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention.Jim Rohn
Do you notice the little people in your life? The parking attendant, the cleaner at the office, your maid. It says something about you when you care about the unnoticed.Ian Vail
There is more hunger in the world for love & appreciation than for bread.Mother Teresa
One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.Dean Rusk
When people are in sorrow, sick or hurting your presence is more important than talk. (they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights – Job 2:13)Marten Visser
Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others.Will Smith
Use things; love people. Don’t use people and love things.Anon