08 Jesus’ Encounter with the Centurion


Luke 7:1-3
1 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.

  • The Centurion’s servant is sick, and almost about to die. This servant must have been like family, dear to his heart. If not, the centurion could have easily replaced him. Just go out and buy another one, hire another one right? Well, he hears of Jesus and he sends some of the elders of the Jews to ask Jesus to come and heal the servant.

How did the elders approach Jesus on behalf of the Centurion?

  • They were beseeching, they were begging.
  • Luke 7:4-5
    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.
  • The elders said that this Centurion was worthy of Jesus’ attention. Worthy for Jesus heal his servant. Why? Because he had built them a synagogue.
  • The synagogue was a place of worship. It is like what we would call the church today.
  • This man was pagan. He didn’t believe in God. Yet he was so generous to build them a church in that area. He must have had some affinity for the Jews. Maybe had come to learn about their religion and accept their teachings. But he had not fully converted over to their religion yet. But certainly the teachings of Christ had already made an impact on his life.

Luke 7:6-7
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.

  • Jesus immediately sets out for the man’s house. It was urgent! The servant was about to perish. Christ did not need this urging or recommendation that this man was worthy. He came to this earth to relieve the sick.
  • But on the way there, what happens? The Centurion sends some of his friends to tell Jesus something.
  • What does he say? Jesus, don’t trouble yourself, I am NOT WORTHY that you should enter into my house.

At the beginning, he asks the elders to ask Jesus for help. They respond by saying, “This man is worthy.” Why? Because he had built them a church! They gave an outward sign of his worthiness. He had donated a lot of money. He had singlehandedly built a church in the area for them.

Too often we determine a person’s worthiness based upon outward appearances, outward acts. We determine worthiness based upon how much tithe they donate to the church. Or what sort of car they drive. The clothes they wear. Their status and their wealth! Surely God is with them or else God’s “blessing” could not rest on them. We like to take riches as an outward sign that God is with a man or has blessed them. We think them worthy!

Man places too high an estimation of man. Too high an estimation of others and of themselves. The Bible warns about esteeming man so highly.

  • James 2:1-9
    1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
  • We must be so careful in regards to respect of persons. Too often we give the rich too much respect. And according to James, it is a sin to respect one class over another – the rich over the poor.
  • And this Centurion was certainly rich. He singlehandedly built them a church himself after all. Paid in cash himself! He was WORTHY!

However, the centurion had a clear estimation of himself. Jesus was on the way to his house and he sent his friends out telling Jesus what? I am not worthy! Not worthy for you to come to my house! Neither worthy for me to even approach you.

  • He understood what the Bible taught.
  • Titus 3:5
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
  • He didn’t look to his own works of righteousness! He knew he needed help. Even though he had all these riches, he still understood his need, even though everyone else thought so highly of him. He was humble. He didn’t let their praise, or even his riches or own works get to his head!
  • Here was a situation spread before him – his servant was sick and no riches on earth could make him better! He understood his own helplessness! Also notice how the centurion addressed Jesus. He called Him LORD! Not even Nicodemus addressed Jesus with this title. Nicodemus called Jesus Rabbi, just simply a teacher. But here, the centurion calls Him Lord, which also means Master!
  • He recognized the authority of Christ. His position! This centurion had learnt the lesson of humility He understood where he himself stood in context of Christ the Messiah. And remember, this centurion officer was a pagan. Yet those in the church had a greater disregard for the ministry of Jesus and even His position.

You know it’s really important to ever remember our position in regard to Christ. He is the elder brother of our race. He wants to be in a loving relationship with us. But let us never forget that He is the Sovereign of the Universe. He holds the world in His hands. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Let’s not address Jesus like our buddy.

You know, I’ve heard people pray before, “Hey God, happy Sabbath, how are you?” What utter disregard for God and His position. Casually talking to God. I’m not saying we should grovel and just come on our knees all the time. But let’s have a humble view of ourselves, and an exalted view of Christ.

Let’s continue though. How was it that the centurion wanted Jesus to heal his servant?

  • Luke 7:7
    Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
  • Matthew says it this way.
  • Matthew 8:8
    The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
  • The centurion believed in Jesus so much, that all he wanted Christ to do was just speak the word ONLY! Nothing else! He didn’t need to come and touch him or see him. Just say the word!

And he gives this explanation:

  • Luke 7:8
    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.
  • If he had such power with his word as a man in the army, surely this man who claimed to be God would have even greater power! He understood the power of Jesus’ word!

And it would do us well to have such a simple faith today. Speak the Word only Jesus! Your Word is enough for us. We realise how powerful your Word is. Just your Word only and that’s enough!

Look at what Jesus declares in conclusion about this centurion:

  • Luke 7:9-10
    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.
  • He declares the great faith of this man!
  • Do you know, there are only 2 instances in scripture where Jesus declares people with great faith?!
    • First being here – the Centurion.
  • The second is found in Matthew 15.
    • Matthew 15:28
      Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
  • What interesting to note is that in both instances these people are not of the Jewish faith. They are both Gentile, non-Christian.

Could it be that greater faith exists outside of the Christian church today? Have we come to the point that we have become skeptics in the church? That we are not able to take God at His word? What has happened? Gentiles having greater faith in Jesus than us? We know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God – Romans 10:17. What has happened to us in the church that a person from outside can be declared to have greater faith in Jesus that us?

Matthew 8:10-12
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  • It’s not that we should be going to other religions. The centurion man came to the Jews, he came to Christ. He accepted the faith of the Jews. He accepted Christ into his heart. It’s just that the people in the world seem to have simpler faith than those in the church today.
  • The centurion represented those that come in at the end of time. Many would come in from the east and from the west.
  • Friends, it doesn’t matter that you’ve gone to church all your life. Church doesn’t save you! It is your faith! It’s what you choose to do with the blessings that church affords. It’s at church that you can come into contact with the mind of Christ. And I’m sure if you went up to any pastor today and told them you didn’t have a Bible and you really wanted to have one so that you could read it, they would pass you one for free – no questions asked!
  • But we aren’t doing that. The pastor has to stand on the pulpit to remind people to read their Bibles. To come up with creative ways to get peoples attention to come to church. To come up with games and activities and social gatherings to keep them in the church. Preaching is not enough. Bible study, not enough. We respond by saying things like, “The Bible again?” We get tired of it. Many of us tire of studying it. We’re expected to be able to compete with the world.

The church has gone chasing after the world. We’ve not realized the precious gift that God has given to us in His word and in the person of Jesus Christ. Our faith is weak! We’ve not been seeking after it. We’ve not been making it our first, best and last! It’s not taken hold of our lives. But yet there are people in the world, heathen who are sitting in darkness who are accepting His grace which He offers so freely.

How many of us today who are living in the time when the light shines the brightest, only to disregard it when it shines in our hearts? We are too busy. We tell God later. We tell others not to make emotional decisions to follow Jesus. Giving up your studies or your work to make time to follow God, to study His word, is frowned upon today. Friends, how many more sermons do you need to hear? How many more Bible studies do you need to receive? How many more visits do you need from the pastor or the Bible worker before you’re willing to stand up and be counted in the Lord’s work.

Stop getting caught up with the world and let’s jump on the gospel train. Let’s take our faith more seriously!

You know Elijah was a man that learnt to live by every word of God. When he stood before Ahab the king to tell him there would be no water until he said so, it was God’s word that directed him to do that. And then it was God’s word that told him to run off to a stream where he would be safe from the king who would surely be hunting for his life. After that, he went to the widow woman of Zarephath. It was God’s word that guided him there.

Let me ask you, have you ever wondered what Elijah did all this time that he was staying there by the brook Cherith? Sure, he was in nature. He was in like a lock down too, you know? Couldn’t run about because his life was being hunted by wicked King Ahab. Couldn’t visit his parents. Couldn’t go back to his own home and sleep in his own bed. What do you think he did?

He had even smaller portion of the Bible than we did. But he learnt to meditate on the word of God too. He didn’t get restless. He didn’t get upset at God – why God did you bring me here and get me to tell Ahab all these words? Now he’s hunting my life! No, his life had been guided by God up to this point. And he used that time to draw EVEN CLOSER to God.

Are you preparing for the end times today? Are you preparing for His second coming? Or is there that is going to come in from the east and the west to take your place in the kingdom of Heaven? At the end of time when Jesus comes back again for a second time, He’s going to be looking for something?

  • Luke 18:8
    I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
  • Will He find people with faith? Exercising their faith. Living by faith. Will He find a group of people in love with Him? Studying His word? Living by every word of God? Will He find you faithful?

Let’s use this time more wisely. Let’s build our faith today. Let’s make faith our work today!

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