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 come 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
Another remarkable aspect about this centurion is found in his awareness of authority and what makes authority work. It is interesting to see humility in the centurion. He says, “I am a man under authority.” Most people with authority would not emphasize that they too are under authority. Most would focus on the authority they have over others, not the fact that they too were under authority. He doesn’t speak only of the authority he has. He recognizes his authority and Jesus authority is in a hierarchy; we have authority because we are under authority. He says, “I too am a man under authority and have soldiers under me and if I say, my instruction or commands are carried out.”
He was indeed commissioned by Herod Antipas as a centurion in the area of Capernaum, Galilee. So he had the authority of Antipas and also the authority of Rome. Notice both soldiers and slaves obey this man. The centurion has but to speak and the word is obeyed. Similarly his point is that Jesus needs only to speak and the deed is done.
There is much debate as to what he means by “I too . . . “. Does this infer he has underlings to carry out his instructions and therefore Jesus too must have those who can go and carry out the order? It can hardly mean that. The centurion recognized something about this One was different. I am sure he didn’t think that the disciples could be sent to take care of his servant. So how do we explain the use of [kai] “too” in that context?[Kai] is a complicated little word. While it’s primary meaning is “and”, “also” or “too”; it has a range of other uses.
from the dictionary entry has the following:
A primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words: – and, also, both, but, even, for, if, indeed, likewise, moreover, or, so, that, then, therefore, when, yea, yet.
I believe in Luke 7:8 the kai is not meant to mean “Jesus too”; rather the argument is from lesser to greater. I.e. even more so you. He recognized Jesus authority came from a higher power. If I, a subordinate, am able to have my will enacted with a mere word how much more you Jesus, King and Ruler of the universe.
There is also much debate over the matter of whether Jesus is subordinate to God or not. A number of commentators feel the argument is based on Jesus being under authority; namely to God the Father. The idea is that Jesus was on the earth to represent the Father and to carry out His will. Therefore Jesus is under authority and therefore the inferences of the centurion hold true. On the other hand, another band of commentators hold to the view that the argument is not based on Jesus being under authority. Rather He has the power of the Word of God inherent within Himself. After all as John would say He is the Word. Notice the use of “Just say the Word” (Luke 7:7). After all we are speaking about the One who spoke creation into existence. Nothing is too hard for Him when it comes to speaking with the authority of the Word of God. He is the One who spoke the Universe into being. Hence the idea of “even more so you”.
This centurion has a good grasp of how authority works. Delegated authority. But he also seems to have a handle on the truth of authority. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28 “all authority in heaven is given to me. Go therefore . . ”
Yes we disciples of Christ can exercise heavenly authority but it is only to the degree that we are submitted to that same heavenly authority. The Lordship of Christ does result in us being able to do that which Jesus did, IF WE ARE SUBMITTED. You can sing songs like “Jesus you are Lord, Jesus take Your throne” but until He is enthroned in our personal lives they are empty words. This truth is real but before we can know the reality we must be submitted. That is why Paul can say in Ephesians 1:9 –10 – the will of God is to bring everything under the headship / Lordship of Christ. Until we get that we don’t understand submission or authority. We don’t understand it as clearly as this Roman Centurion who saw it in practice every day.
Do you understand your place in Him and what is released to you when you submit? All the power and authority of heaven is yours “in Christ“. Submit therefore and give up your small ambitions.
There is much more to be said here but I will stop. There are many more elements of this story that are remarkable. I haven’t even entered into the textual issue over the matter of “Let my servant be healed” as opposed to “my servant will be healed”. Let me servant be healed – or my servant will be healed? In short there are two different readings in the manuscripts – one reading has an Aorist passive imperative – iatheto “let . . . “; the other is [iathesetai] a future passive indicative “will be”. The translations are divided over the reading.
- My servant will be healed – AMP; ASV; BBE; CEV; EMTV; GNB; KJV; MSG; Murdock; NASB; NEB; NIV; NLT; RV; TEB; YLT
- Let my servant be healed – ESV ; GW; ISV; LITV
This difficult form of the verb may be a request or it maybe a word of confidence. You decide which you think.
Next Gem we will discuss what made this centurion’s faith so remarkable and we will finish off investigating Luke’s purpose in including this story as he has.
Many want to be involved but few dare to commit. Commitment is the place of authority.Jeffrey Rachmat
It Is Impossible To Become A Man In Authority Until You 1st Become A Man Under Authority.Robb Thompson
Never Take Authority Over That For Which You Are Not Responsible.Robb Thompson
Anytime you try to judge what you’ve no authority over, you’re out of your jurisdiction!Bob Gass
God never gives authority without responsibility.A R Bernard