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.
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
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.
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)
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)
Capernaum Sea of Galilee
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).
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).
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.
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.
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!
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)
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 ...
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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!
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!
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).
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)
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!