Summary: A Roman centerion teaches us some valuable lessons in understanding how we can be right with God.
THE CENTERION’S UNDERSTANDING OF AUTHORITY
1. Matthew 8:5-13 (NKJV) Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented." 7 And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." 8 The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ’Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ’Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ’Do this,’ and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.
2. A parallel account of this incident is found in Luke 7:1-10. We’ll note some additional information provided by Luke as we go through this story.
3. A short time after the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus went back to what had become His home base -- the Galilean city of Capernaum located at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Matthew says that a centurion came to him pleading for his sick servant. Luke’s account says that the centurion sent Jewish elders to plead with Jesus to come and heal the servant. There is no reason why both statements cannot be true. The centurion first sent sympathetic Jewish friends to make an appeal to Jesus. The centurion then followed up with a personal request to the Lord.
4. This centurion was a special man who received a high compliment from Jesus because of his faith. There are some lessons we can learn from this man.
I. THE CENTURION TEACHES US THE NEED TO PRACTICE HUMILITY EVEN WHEN WE ARE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY.
A. He was a centurion.
1. That was a rank in the Roman army for a commander of 100 men.
2. He was accustomed to being in authority. He explained to Jesus that in his daily life, he told people what to do and they did it.
3. Romans were occupiers of Israel during the time that Jesus lived on the earth. Under certain restrictions, they could compel people to do things for them. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had said, "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two" [Matthew 5:41 (NKJV)]. This referred to Roman soldiers who could force Jews to go with them and carry their baggage for a mile. This centurion certainly knew how to give orders.
B. He approached Jesus with humility.
1. He didn’t barge into the presence of this itinerant Jewish preacher and command him to come and heal his servant. Certainly there are arrogant people who would have used that approach.
2. This man appears to have been conscious of being a foreigner. He arranged for Jewish elders to make the first approach to Jesus [Luke 7:3]. Those Jews pleaded with Jesus and "begged Him earnestly" [Luke 7:4]. Surely this man understood the difference between asking and telling. That’s a greatly needed lesson in modern-day human relations.
a. Workplace -- treat people with consideration and respect [Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.]
b. Family -- "catching more flies with honey than vinegar"
C. He felt unworthy for Jesus to come into his house [Matthew 8:8, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. "] We do not know exactly how much this Roman soldier understood about the identity of Jesus, but this statement indicates that he thought Jesus was a great man.
II. THE CENTURION TEACHES US THE VALUE OF CARING ABOUT PEOPLE.
A. The centurion’s servant was a slave. Luke used the Greek word doulos (slave) to describe the servant. Matthew has the centurion himself describing the servant as a pais which could be translated "boy" or "child." This word can be translated "servant" as it is here in Matthew 8, but it shows the affection and care the master felt for his slave boy. Luke 7:2 says the servant was "dear" to the centurion.
B. The servant was very sick.
1. He was paralyzed and dreadfully tormented [Matthew 8:6]