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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). 

 

In our article last week, we     learnt of the kindness of the centurion.  Deeply concerned for his dying servant who was “dear unto him” (v. 2), the kind master had sought the help of “the elders of the Jews” to plead his case before Jesus (v. 3).  Despite his high status as a Roman overlord, the centurion had treated his Jewish subjects well and done them much good.  When the Jewish elders came to appeal to Jesus on the centurion’s behalf, they testified of his kindness:  “And when they came to Jesus, they besought him (Jesus) in    stantly, 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 other lessons can we learn from the character and conduct of the centurion? 

  • His humility

Having heard the Jewish elders’ plea, “…Jesus went with them” (v. 6)Word must have reached the centurion that Jesus had acceded to his request and was on his way to heal his sick servant.  Instead of preparing his house to welcome Christ, “...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” (vv 6-8).   The centurion considered himself unworthy of the honour of having Jesus come under his roof.  His expressions of unworthiness are a sharp contrast to the language used by the Jewish elders: “… he was worthy for whom he should do this …” (v. 4).

Note further the comments on verse 6: “for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof”  by John Gill:  “He might know full well the law of the Jews, that it was not lawful for a Jew to go into the house of an uncircumcised Gentile; and though he might be a proselyte of righteousness, and so his house was free of entrance; yet considering his own meanness, and the greatness of Christ, who was become so famous for his doctrines and miracles, he thought it too great a stoop for Christ to come into his house, and too high a favour for him to enjoy.” 

The centurion did not think himself worthy to meet Christ (v. 7), yet Christ thought him worthy of His visit.  Indeed, God gives grace to the humble and exalts them: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (I Pet. 5: 5-6).

Though a well-respected leader who was “worthy” in the eyes of the Jews, the centurion possessed a humble spirit.   Humility is a mark of grace and an evidence that we know the Lord.  However, it is not an easy virtue to cultivate because pride is found in every human heart.   This evil sin is manifested when we overrate or speak highly of ourselves and despise others.  Augustine defined it as “the love of one’s own excellence”.

Brethren, let us emulate the centurion in his humility.  Take heed to the exhortation by the apostle Paul on how we can cultivate a spirit of humility in Philippians 2: 3-4:  “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (… to be concluded).

Pastor