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The Centurion’s Servant

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  1. The Centurion’s Servant

  2. Encounters With The Lord • Jesus was a teacherbefore all else. • For example, there is often a central theme to his healings, though side issues are common. • Those who encountered the Lord frequently represented the nation of Israel in its need. • Many of Jesus’ miracles were “enacted parables”. • The encounters usually brought great personal blessings to those involved. • In principle, our needs are similar to those of the people with whom the Lord interacted.

  3. Woman Takenin Adultery Centurion’s Servant EpilepticChild The Manwith Dropsy Cripple By Pool Zacchaeus A Time-Line for Jesus’ Ministry Fourth Passover, Thu, Apr 4; Jesus 33/34 Ministry begins; Jesus about 30 Tabernacles Second Passover; Jesus 31/32 Third Passover; Jesus 32/33 First Passover; Jesus 30/31 Sermon on Mount January 1, AD30 January 1, AD27 January 1, AD28 January 1, AD29 Transfiguration

  4. Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10 (RSV) After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people he entered Capernaum.(Luke 7:1) Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death.(Luke 7:2) When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews,(Luke 7:3)beseeching him(Matt 8:5) and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.”(Matt 8:6)And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him,(Luke 7:5) for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.”(Luke 7:6) And Jesussaid (to him), “I will come and heal him,”(Matt 8:7)and went with them.

  5. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof;(Luke 7:6) therefore I did not presume to come to you.(Luke 7:7)But only say the word, and (letLuke 7:7) my servant (willMatt 8:8) be healed.(Matt 8:8)For I (too Most versions) am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”(Luke 7:8)

  6. When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “Truly(Matt 8:10) I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.(Luke 7:9)I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,(Matt 10:11) while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”(Matt 10:12) And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.(Matt 10:13)And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.(Luke 9:10)

  7. Capernaum Sea of Galilee

  8. Capernaum • Peter moved here from Bethsaida • See John 1:44; Mark 1:21, 29; Luke 4:31, 38. • Jesus moved here too, after rejection at Nazareth: • See Lk 4:16, 28-31; Mk 2:1-3; cp Mt 9:1, 2. • Many Gospel healings happened here: • Peter’s mother-in-law; Demoniac in synagogue; Palsied man lowered through roof; Nobleman’s son; Jairus’ daughter (?);Man with withered hand (?) • See also Mt 8:16, 17; Mk 1:32-34; Lk 4:16, 23, 31, 40, 41. • Matthew came from Capernaum (Matthew 9:1, 9). • Jesus spoke of the bread of life here (John 6:24-59). • The centurion’s synagogue was probably here (Luke 7:1, 5).

  9. A 3rd Century Capernaum Synagogue The Synagogue • The centurion’s synagogue (Luke 7:5)seems to have been the synagogue of the gospels. • ... they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught (Mark 1:21). • ... there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit (Mark 1:23) • ... he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:29). • Compare these with (for example): • ... he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand (Mark 3:1). • ... he entered the synagogue ... a man was there whose right hand was withered (Luke 6:6. Cp Luke 13:10, “one of the synagogues”;Also see John 6:59).

  10. An Apparent Discrepancy • In Matthew 8:5, 8 - The centurion speaks directly to Jesus. • In Luke 7 he uses intermediaries. • These are not necessarily inconsistent: • One may act through agents and still be represented as acting directly … • As in business, or in building a house, for example.

  11. Possible Sequence • The servant fell sick. • Perhaps the Jews prayed for him. • For example, as in James 5:14. • The Jews were consulted - Luke 7:3. • Feeling personally unworthy to approachJesus, the centurion sent Jewish elders to fetch him. • While Jesus was coming, and further reflecting on his unworthiness, the centurion sent more messengers - this time asking that Jesus simply declare the healing from afar. • The centurion would have known the court official of John 4:46-53. • So he would have heard (Luke 7:3) of Jesus’ power to heal at a distance. • Jesus marvelled at the centurion’s faith; the servant was healed.

  12. The Servant’s Distress • Matthew 8:6 … lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress … • Luke 7:2 … at the point of death. • Though not necessarily a sinner, he was suffering from the consequences of sin. • Paralyzed and in pain – a graphic description of the human condition. • Jesus was able to deliver him from his misery without even being physically present!

  13. The Centurion’s Approach When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews,(Luke 7:3)beseeching him(Matt 8:5) and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.”(Matt 8:6)And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him,(Luke 7:5) for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.”(Luke 7:6)

  14. Jews Deemed him Worthy! (Luke 7:4) • They were not necessarily poor judges of character … • But Jewish elders would not normally have endorsed any Gentile. • And in this case they besought Jesus earnestly. • This is all the more surprising in view of their developing hostility ...

  15. Jesus and the Jews • The Jews were amazed that Jesus healed the man with the unclean spirit in the Capernaum synagogue - Luke 4:31 ff. • They murmured when Jesus attended Matthew’s feast - Luke 5:30. • Jesus defended the disciples’ feasting instead of fasting - Mark 2:18 ff. • Healing the cripple by the pool was controversial - John 5:10 ff. • Jesus defended the disciples for plucking ears of grain - Luke 6:1-5. • Healing the man with the withered hand was controversial- Luke 6:7 ff. • Jesus criticised the scribes and Pharisees in the sermon on the mount - Matt 5:20, 6:1-7. • This background of growing animosity makes the Jews’ recommendation of the centurion’s character all the more striking.

  16. The Grounds of Assessment • ... he loves our nation (Luke 7:5). • ... he built us our synagogue (Luke 7:5) • They seem to have reckoned his worthiness on the basis of his attitude toward them! • But what of his attitude toward God? • Of course, his attitude toward Israel and his building the synagogue implied a love for God, but surely they might have mentioned it explicitly!

  17. Sensitive, Affectionate, Caring • Jews had no dealings with Gentiles (eg John 4:9). • So as to not offend Jesus, the centurion sent Jewishmessengers; he was sensitive to the sensitivities of others. • On reflection, rather than offend Jesus by having him enter his house (John 18:28; Acts 10:28), the centurion asked for a healing from a distance. Again, this shows his sensitivity - as well as his great faith. • The servant was a slave (Greek). Roman slaves, though usually not badly treated, were still chattels. The centurion’s servant “was dear to him.” The centurion was affectionate and caring. • The centurion seemed delightfully unaware that the Jewish leaders regarded Jesus as a dangerous threat. • Their willingness to carry the centurion’s message to Jesus is a sign that the Jews held the centurion in great respect.

  18. He is Worthy! (Luke 7:4) • He came to Jesus as a supplicant. • Yet, as part of an occupying army hemight simply have demanded thatthe Lord attend to his servant. • He thought of himself as “set under authority.” This means: • He thought of himself as a servant, not a master. • He had been “set” under authority - promoted on merit like Joseph, David, Daniel, Mordecai - and Jesus himself (Philippians 2:8, 9). • He recognised that Jesus, too, was “set under authority.” That is, he understood the basic principle of the Godhead! • He knew that authority - even God’s authority - is vested in the individual’s word (for example, see Exodus 23:21).

  19. The Centurion’s View • Two Greek words: “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” (Mt 8:8; Lk 7:6) • Hikanos in context: The house would be ceremonially defiling because he is a Gentile (Edersheim). • “He is worthy ...” (Luke 7:4) Axioo: to count as worthy in terms of character. • “... therefore I did not presume (consider myself worthy – NIV, NAB, AV) to come to you” (Luke 7:7). • axioo – So this is his own view of his character. • He may be most fit to serve who has the least opinion of his fitness. • Real authority derives from a willingness to serve.

  20. The Centurion’s Humility Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted – Matt 23:12, NIV • Lord, I am not worthy ... • Lord, I am not worthy ... • Therefore I did not presume ... • I am a man set under authority ... • See also Mt 18:4; Jam 4:6, 10; 1 Pet 5:5, 6; Isa 57:15; Pro 16:19; Col 3:12; Psa 51:17, etc. The importance of humility!

  21. From Whence His Faith? • From the official of John 4:46-53? cp Ps 107:20. • Had the sick servant taught him about the God of Israel? • Like the servant girl of Naaman’s wife– 2 Kings 5:1 ff. • If so, perhaps the servant’s example of willing service had made him reflect on the nature of obedience – and his own subjection – Luke 7:8. • Lesson!

  22. Jesus Marveled • When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “Truly(Matt 8:10) I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith (Luke 7:9). • Jesus marveled only here and in Mark 6:6 – where the subject was the unbelief of the people of Nazareth. • Sometimes, even uninformed outsiders may have deeper insights than God’s people! They are not all Israel which are of Israel – Rom 9:6. • The multitude was following Jesus, for he turned to address them (cp Peter’s rebuke – Matt 16:22, 23).

  23. The Sons of the Kingdom I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,(Matt 10:11) while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”(Matt 10:12) And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.(Matt 10:13)

  24. Who Is the Centurion? • Was he Cornelius? (Luke 7; Acts 10) • Both were centurions (vs 2; vs 1). • Both were men of faith (vs 9; vs 2). • Both benefited the Jewish people (vs 5; vs 2). • Both knew the work of Jesus (vs 3; vs 37). • Both had faithful servants who were dear to them (vs 2; vss 2, 7). • The centurion was in Capernaum, Cornelius in Caesarea (70 km SW - on the Mediterranean Coast). • But 3 years had elapsed; the centurion may have been reassigned. • Either or neither of these might have been the centurion of the cross (see Luke 23:47). • Jesus finishes what he starts in us!

  25. The Centurion’s Servant