Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. 3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: 5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. 6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick (Luke 7: 1-10).
The above passage records Jesus’ healing of a critically-ill man – a “centurion’s servant”. His master, the centurion, had appealed to the Lord Jesus Christ to come and heal his servant who was “ready to die” (v. 2). This particular miracle – which is also recorded in Matthew 8: 5-13 – is unique in that the Lord restored the dying man to full health without even meeting or touching him.
We note that the centurion sent the Jewish elders to plead on his behalf before the Lord. Why? Could he not have gone to Jesus directly to personally seek His help? Perhaps, as a Gentile, the centurion felt that the Jewish elders might have more influence with the Lord.
“He sent some of the elders of the Jews to Christ, to represent the case, and solicit for him, thinking that a greater piece of respect to Christ than if he had come himself, because he was an uncircumcised Gentile, whom he thought Christ, being a prophet, would not care for conversing with. For that reason he sent Jews ... not ordinary Jews neither, but elders of the Jews, persons in authority, that the dignity of the messengers might give honour to him to whom they were sent” (Matthew Henry).
What lessons can we glean from this miraculous healing of the centurion’s servant? In particular, what can we learn from the character and conduct of the centurion?
- His kindness
We note a close relationship between the master and his servant. Obviously, the centurion had other servants to attend to him and his family. Yet this dying servant was “dear unto him” (v. 2). Perhaps the servant had, by his diligence and faithfulness, endeared himself to his master. On the other hand, the master loved his servant and cared much for him. We read that the centurion was so concerned for his servant’s recovery that he “sent unto him (Jesus) the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant” (v. 3).
The centurion’s kindness is also reflected in his treatment of the Jews. As a Roman military officer who had one hundred men under his command, the centurion occupied a high position among the Jews. Yet he did not despise his Jewish subjects.
“These officers were often haughty and oppressive; but this centurion seems to have been a devout man, and just and beneficent towards the people whom he assisted to govern” (Abbott New Testament Commentary).
The Jewish elders who came to Jesus testified of the centurion’s love for their nation. When they needed a place of worship in Capernaum, he had built them a synagogue: “And when they came to Jesus, they besought him (Jesus) instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue” (vv. 4-5). What a fine description of one who had authority over them and yet showed kindness to them! One writer commented: “He did not love Israel in word and tongue only, but in deed.” The Jewish elders supported their petition by saying that the kind centurion was “worthy” of the help of the Lord. As the saying goes, “One good turn deserves another.”
Let us learn from the good example of the centurion. Like him, let us show love, kindness and respect to our fellow men, even to those of low estate. Be ready always to offer help and to do good. May the Lord help us to be His effective witnesses by our kind and loving deeds. (… to be continued)