In Matthew 8:5 we read the account of the Roman centurion who had a servant that was very sick. The centurion begged the Lord Jesus if He would please heal his servant. And promptly Jesus said:
I Will Come and Heal Him (Matthew 8:5-7)
Let us read the account, beginning in Matthew 8:5,
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, ………
Why did Jesus do so many miracles in Capernaum?
Well, in Capernaum were the headquarters of the Lord Jesus. So Jesus was there very often. Capernaum means "the village of Nahum". And since Nahum means "comforter", Capernaum means "the village of the Comforter".
Can you see why the Lord Jesus chose Capernaum to be His home base?
In the Bible God the Holy Spirit is called Comforter, but the Lord Jesus Christ is also called Comforter. "The village of the Comforter" is a very appropriate name for the headquarters of the Lord Jesus.
But in Matthew chapter 12 the Lord Jesus condemned Capernaum for their unbelief. Jesus said "that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for Capernaum".
Were there so many unbelievers in Capernaum?
That was true, as we shall see. Let us read again:
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
What is a centurion?
A centurion was an officer in the Roman army who was a commander of at least 100 soldiers. This centurion was sensitive to human suffering. For the sake of his servant he was willing to submit himself to a Jewish Rabbi, and beg Him to come and heal his servant. The centurion called Jesus "Lord". The Greek word he used was "Kurios", which means Lord, or Master.
How sick was this servant?
The servant was paralyzed, and was in great pain. Dr Luke says that the servant was near death. He certainly needed some Divine intervention. This servant was a picture of someone who needs to be saved, and will be saved. Like Lazarus who was dead and was made alive again, the healing of this servant was an outstanding picture of salvation.
This servant was unable to go to Jesus, or to call for help to Jesus. This servant had no power at all to reach out to Jesus or to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. This servant had no power to do anything; he was paralyzed. If he was going to be healed it was all by grace. That is what salvation is.
And when Jesus said, "I will come and heal him", that man was as good as healed.
When Jesus said that He was going to do something, would it indeed be done?
What do you think?
What Do You Think of Jesus? (Matthew 8:8-9, Luke 7:1-5)
This centurion had a very high opinion of Jesus. He knew that this was a man of God, having great authority over sickness and health, and over life and death. He had more appreciation for Jesus than most of the scribes and Pharisees would ever have for Jesus. And this centurion also knew that normally Jews do not enter the house of a Gentile, because they would become ceremonially unclean. He did not want this man of God to become defiled. Therefore he said:
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.
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
This is a remarkable prayer coming out of this unconverted Gentile. With a slight variation, these are the words of someone pleading to Christ for salvation: "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and Thy servant shall be healed".
This was a prayer that I learned when I was 8 years old.
From where did this centurion get such great faith in Jesus?
God gave it to him. He did not get this kind of insight from the Jews around him. The Jews around him had a far lesser opinion of Jesus. We find that from the Gospel account in Luke.
Please turn with me to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 7. We find here the parallel account of this story beginning in verse 1. Here we read what most of the Jews thought of Jesus. Most of the Jews considered Jesus as a miracle worker, and perhaps even as a prophet, but not as someone Divine and having great authority over life and death. We read in Luke 7:1,
Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
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.
And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying,
That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
Here we get some additional information. The centurion did not personally speak to Jesus, but he sent the elders of the Jews. He sent the most notable ones of the Jewish community to plead with Jesus. They were his mouthpiece. They were the representatives of national Israel.
What Do You Think of National Israel? (Luke 7:6-9, Matthew 8:10)
Here we read about the religion of national Israel. The elders said of the centurion: "He is worthy". But the centurion said of himself: "I am not worthy".
Who is right in this case?
The elders did not even mention the man who was so sick that he was about to die. This servant really needed all the attention. But the elders said to Jesus: "he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue."
In their eyes the centurion was a man who is worthy to receive some special favors from God, because he has done many good works. He has done this, and he has done that.
See how good he is?
But is that good in the eyes of God?
Is this how God looks at us?
Is someone considered good because of the works that person does?
It reflects the religion of national Israel. Their religion is based on a system of good works. We find in other parts of the New Testament that they believe they deserve to get into heaven if they obey the Law and do good works. That is why they are striving to obey the Law, and that is why they have no need for Jesus. But the Lord Jesus said: "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me".
What do you think of national Israel?
Can they get into heaven without repenting of this sin?
Does God owe national Israel any special favors?
No, God does not owe anyone anything. Let's continue:
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:
Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
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.
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.
Now the centurion sent friends to Jesus. This message has to be carried by friends of Jesus. This centurion believes that Jesus has authority over life and death. And he says: "Lord, say a word, and my servant shall be healed".
Lord, I understand what authority is, and I believe that Thou hast this authority.
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.
Was Jesus surprised to find such great faith?
What does it take to surprise God?
What do you think of Jesus?
That Jesus is God is not doubted in this church.
But what kind of a God is He?
This God the Bible describes as the one knowing the end from the beginning.
Do we really believe that?
What Do You Think of the Bible? (2 Peter 1:20-21)
The Bible says of itself that it is the Word of God. The Bible says of the Lord Jesus that He is the Word of God.
If we worship Jesus, do we worship a Book?
No, we do not worship a Book, but we worship the God who gave us that Book, and who is described in that Book. God gave us the Bible so that we can learn who God is, and that He is a God who "declares the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). Not only does He know the end from the beginning, but He also makes it come to pass according to His will. God says there in Isaiah 46:11, "I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it".
Can there be any plainer language?
This is the omnipotent attribute of God, which we find all throughout Scripture. And this omnipotent God has condescended to feeble and fallible mankind to save out of them a people for Himself. To that end God has given us the Bible, His words.
God says that the words in the Bible are His words. God says in 2 Peter 1:20,
2 Peter 1:20
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
2 Peter 1:21
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Literally: Holy men of God spoke as they were carried by the Holy Ghost. The prophets, who were carried by the Holy Ghost, spoke the words that God wanted them to speak, and they wrote the words that God wanted them to write. And the message that God gave through His prophets is the message of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible is a very thick Book. My Bible has almost 2000 pages. That takes a lot of studying. But we live in a society that does more talking than studying. Many people have jobs where they are on the phone 50% of the time, or they are in meetings 50% of the time. They are on the phone when they drive to work and when they drive home. And when they arrive home most of the time is spent again in talking or in listening to the news on TV.
Internet chat-rooms are frequently visited.
Computer E-mail takes up a lot of our time.
And so on, and so on. Talk, talk, talk.
When do they have time to study the Word of God?
But this is really where we must spend our time. We cannot live our life saying: "This preacher says this, and that preacher says that; and now we can choose between this or that".
God speaks, and we must take time to listen.
God says in the Bible that all mankind comes into the world corrupt, in rebellion against God, and therefore all are on the way to their just retribution, which is Hell.
Do we really believe that?
Or do we believe that some people are "good people", because they have done so many good things, like the Jews were saying of this centurion?
They have not studied their Bible. That is why they considered Jesus only to be a good miracle worker, instead of Jehovah the Savior.
What do you think of Jesus?
Is He the omnipotent God?
Study your Bible. That really is a matter of life and death. The centurion spoke about authority. Legitimately we can ask the question:
Who Has Authority? (Matthew 28:18, Galatians 3:10-11)
After Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared unto the disciples and He said in Matthew 28:18,
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, "All power (Lit: authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth".
The Lord Jesus Christ has received all authority to save His people from their sins, and take them into God's holy heaven.
How can He do that if all mankind is corrupt and in rebellion against God?
Almost all mankind believes that man has authority to accept the Lord Jesus, even though the Bible says NO!
Man believes that he is a god and man decides what he can take out of the Bible.
Please turn with me to the Epistle to the Galatians, chapter 3. The centurion said: "I am not worthy to come in Thy presence".
Was he right?
He was absolutely right, because God says in Romans 3:10, "There is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE". None of us are worthy to come in the presence of Jesus.
The Jews believed that they could come in the presence of God by obeying the Law. That is a self-righteous religion, because God says in Galatians 3:10,
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
God says that all those who pursue their way to heaven by obeying the Law are under a curse, because if we fail to obey one thing from the Book of the Law, the Bible, then we will be cursed by God, and end up in Hell. No one can be justified in the sight of God by obeying the Law. God says in this chapter: "if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law".
If that were possible, the Lord Jesus Christ would not have come down to earth. But it is impossible. Therefore, to save even one person would require the grace of God. To save just this servant of the centurion required that the Lord Jesus Christ come down to earth.
How sick was this servant of the centurion?
He was so sick that he was about to die. Only by grace could he be saved. Jesus said to the centurion: "I will come and heal him".
Wasn't this nice of Jesus?
What did Jesus have to do to heal the servant of the centurion?
Would He lay His hand on that servant, and PRESTO, the servant would be healed. Think of it now. All those healings that the Lord Jesus did were pictures of salvation, because the Bible is a spiritual Book.
Did Jesus have the authority to declare that all the sins of this servant were forgiven?
Jesus Purchased That Authority (Galatians 3:13-14)
What did the Lord Jesus Christ have to do to get the soul of this servant completely washed from all his sins?
Jesus had to purchase that authority on the cross. To fulfill the righteousness of God, Jesus had to take all this man's sins upon Himself, and pay for those sins the full penalty required from this servant if he had to pay for his own sins. That penalty is to spend an eternity in Hell. The Lord Jesus had to pay the equivalent of an eternity in Hell in order to satisfy the righteousness of God. The Lord Jesus came under the curse of God for the sins that He bore. God says in Galatians 3:13,
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
God crafted that ceremonial Law in the Old Testament, specifically to point to the Lord Jesus Christ: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Like everything in the ceremonial Law, it was pointing to the Lord Jesus and it indicated, when He was hanging on the cross, that He was under the wrath of God like the king of Jericho, and the king of Ai, and the five kings of the Amorites were under the wrath of God. Those kings will have to pay for their own sins in Hell. And Hell was what the Lord Jesus had to endure on the cross. Only if the full payment was made could there be forgiveness of sins.
Christ paid for the sins of all those whom He came to save. And God says in Galatians 3:14,
In order that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The blessing of Abraham was passed on to his seed, which is Christ (Galatians 3:16), and therefore the blessing also passed to all those who are in Christ. Since Christ passed with all our sins through the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, all those who are in Christ also passed through Hell with Him. The Bible says: We were crucified with Christ, we died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, we were raised with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. Since we have already passed through Hell in Christ with our sins, God will never demand that we pass through Hell again to pay for our sins the second time. But this is the only reason why "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus". This is how the blessing of Abraham was passed on to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. This is why Abraham was called the father of all believers.
In order to make all this happen, the Lord Jesus Christ had to purchase the authority to wipe away our sins. He did not get this for free. But in addition:
The Lord Jesus Also Purchased a Kingdom (Colossians 1:12-14)
When Jesus said: "All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth", He referred to His Kingdom being in heaven and on earth. He is already King here on this earth, meaning that He is already reigning supreme on this earth. Jesus does not need to come down to this earth to establish His kingship in a thousand year kingdom. That is an unbiblical idea. Right now He is already ruling the affairs of man on this earth, both of the saved and the unsaved people.
The topic of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is subject to much confusion. God speaks about the Kingdom of Christ primarily in two ways: First, when Jesus said to Pilate, in John 18:36,
My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Without question, the Lord Jesus was referring here to His Spiritual Kingdom, or His Eternal Kingdom. The angels in heaven, and the souls in heaven, and the souls of people on earth who have been saved are all those who are in this Eternal Kingdom of Christ, "and the whole world lieth in wickedness", meaning, the rest of the world lieth in wickedness. This Eternal Kingdom of Christ is in view when God gives us in Colossians 1 this grandiose picture of our status of salvation. God says in Colossians 1,
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
The Father has made us partakers of the New Heaven & New Earth. The Father has delivered us from the kingdom of Satan, and has translated us into the Eternal Kingdom of Christ. We have been redeemed through His blood, which means we have been purchased by His life.
Secondly, the Lord Jesus also spoke of His Kingdom as an externally visible Kingdom, such as the nation of Israel in Old Testament times, from the time of Jacob until the cross, or the New Testament church, from the time of the cross until the Last Day. This is known as the externally visible Kingdom of Christ. Every visible church organization contains within a number of people who are not saved. They have been under the hearing of the Word of God, but God never opened their spiritual; ears. Corporately, both saved and unsaved people in the church are also spoken of as the Kingdom of Christ.
Now we come to the uncomfortable part of this passage in Matthew. In Matthew 8:9 Jesus acted surprised.
Why did Jesus act surprised?
Since He is God, He was not really surprised. He did it for our benefit, so that we do not take our faith for granted. When we come to this part of the story, we should ask:
Which Kingdom Are You In? (Matthew 8:11-12, Matthew 13:38)
The Lord Jesus does not make it easy for us. When we read verses 11 and 12 the Lord Jesus mentions both types of Kingdoms. He says in Matthew 8:11-12,
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.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Kingdom of heaven in verse 11 refers to the Eternal Kingdom of Christ, which will transition into the glorious New Heaven & New Earth. But the Kingdom in verse 12 refers to the Kingdom of the externally visible national Israel. The children of Israel were supposedly the children of the Kingdom. But this Gentile centurion shows more faith than all the elders of the Jews. And notice that the term "children of the Kingdom" also applies to the Kingdom of the externally visible New Testament. church. The Lord Jesus does this more often in His parables. For example, if you turn to chapter 13, you find there in "the parable of the wheat and the tares" that the Lord Jesus also speaks of two Kingdoms.
In Matthew 13, verse 38, the Lord Jesus speaks about His eternal Kingdom:
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
Here the children of the Kingdom are all those who are the children of God, and the Kingdom is the Eternal Kingdom of Christ. But in verse 41 Jesus speaks about the unsaved in the church:
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Obviously His Kingdom here refers to the externally visible church, containing both saved and unsaved people. Let's return now to Matthew 8:11-12, and let me ask again:
Which Kingdom are you in?
Is this an uncomfortable question for you?
The Lord Jesus specifically mentions that the children of the Kingdom shall be cast out.
This is a big warning from Christ, saying: "Watch out. Did you examine yourself? Are there found in you the signs of salvation? Certainly, this does not have to be an uncomfortable question, if we have examined ourself before".
But face it now:
Which Jesus did you put your trust in?
Did they send you to the wrong Jesus?
Did you put your trust in the Jesus of the Bible, and the Bible alone?
Don't study what the theologians have written. They are fallible men who contradict each other. Study the Bible, and if you have time, study it in depth.
And then ask yourself honestly: "Do I find within myself an ongoing desire to be obedient to the Word of God?"
Or do I find within myself the elements of besetting sin, so ugly that I cannot stand myself for doing that again and again. You know, if you say that you are following Jesus, that is no great sign of your salvation. We see in this story that:
The Children of the Kingdom Followed Him (Matthew 8:10, John 11:42)
We read in verse 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.
Them that followed were the same people whom Jesus condemned with the city of Capernaum for having no faith in Him. These were the same people of whom Jesus said: "But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness". They followed Jesus, but they did not follow Him because He was their Savior. They followed Him because He was the miracle worker, and because Jesus always had something spectacular.
We see the same thing when the Lord Jesus stood at the grave of Lazarus. People followed Him because they wanted to see something spectacular. The Lord Jesus prayed in John 11:41 and 42, and He said: "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me".
"The people which stand by" were those following Jesus, but not because He was their Savior. We read that "some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done". They saw Lazarus being raised from the dead. But even that was not sufficient to convince them that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
What would be sufficient?
How did the centurion get such great faith?
God gave it to him. Our faith is not an instrument toward our salvation. Our faith is a gift from God, given as evidence of our salvation.
And why did those who followed Jesus not have such great faith?
Because God had not given it to them. It is as simple as that, because the Bible says: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him".
Could Jesus have given more faith to the Jews who followed Him?
Yes, But He did not do that. Can we understand why God is doing this?
But do we believe that this is so?
Yes, because the Bible says so. If we are saved, we trust the words of Jesus, we trust the words of the Bible.
What Are the Characteristics of the Saints (Matthew 8:13, Luke 7:10, John 9:41)
The saints love to do those things that are pleasing in God's sight, because they love the Bridegroom. We are the Bride and Christ is the Bridegroom. The saints love to read or hear the words from the Bible, because they love to hear the voice of the Bridegroom. The saints put their trust in the words of the Bible, because the saints trust Christ. If we can put our trust in the Bible, then God will not let us down. Look at the trusting centurion. We read in Matt 8:13,
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
This does not mean that every time we are interceding for someone, that person would be saved. In this particular case it fit into God's program to heal this individual. But it does indicate that this unnamed centurion is a picture of a saint who brings the Gospel to a dying soul. He petitioned Christ on behalf of his servant. One of the characteristics of a saint is that he wants to intercede for those who need salvation, because we have been appointed as ambassadors for Christ. It has become our second nature to beseech God on behalf of others. It has become our second nature to put our trust in the Bible and to love to hear the words from the Bible. It has become our second nature to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. It is not a burden to us, "for it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure".
We are grateful that God has opened our eyes. At one time we were blind, walking on the way to Hell and believing the same way so many other "good people" believed. The Lord Jesus said unto the Pharisees, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth". Christ came to give sight to the blind, US. Those who say they see do not need Jesus.
But then came the time, by God's grace; He opened our eyes and suddenly we were no longer content to remain in the churches where we were fed only a half-truth.
Teach your children well.
Oh how they need it!
We do not know what the future holds, but we know that spiritually the world will be far worse than it presently is, because the Bible tells us so. Teach your children well, how to study the Bible. If Jesus Christ is our only foundation, then certainly the Word of God is the only trustworthy pillar we can lean on. Let us lean on His almighty arms, and let us walk as children of the King, in the Eternal Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
By Alfred J. Chompff