Following the wonderful incident of the cleansing of the leper,  we have the equally marvelous account of the centurion’s servant.  This centurion, a Roman commander, a Gentile, had a slave who was dear to him.  Yes, a master can hold a slave as a dear friend, and the slave can love his master, in spite of all the lies of Abolitionism!  It is also important to note the high commendation which Jesus gives this slaveholder.  Very clearly, our Redeemer saw nothing contrary to saving faith and good morality in this man’s office as a master.

But such thoughts are only incidental to the tale.  This centurion lays out his case before Jesus, and begs Him to heal this tormented, palsy-stricken slave.  Ever kind and gracious, willing to use His power for the good of His fellow men, the Lord agrees to come to the centurion’s home and heal the sufferer.  Very remarkable is the centurion’s answer.  It is amazing that this man, who probably had only heard of Christ by reputation, exhibits such striking faith in the face of a disease against which the physicians of his day were powerless.  This man, an army officer (a caste usually very egocentric and prideful), humbles Himself before this Jewish itinerant preacher, showing that he had the faith of God’s elect, not a mere religious veneer.  “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof,” he says, and really meant it.  Who, after all, is worthy to enjoy the presence of the Son of God?  But, though he thought himself undeserving of the smallest benefit from the Lord Jesus, yet he still pleads that the word might be spoken, and his servant healed.  In this we see the centurion’s complete faith in the power of Christ.  Far greater is his faith than that of the nobleman of Capernaum which we read of in John 4, who begged Jesus to come to his house, thinking that the miracle could not be done except the Lord were immediately present.  This centurion knows that Jesus is a man with divine authority, and therefore begs Him to exert it on his behalf.  Whether present or distant, Jesus need only speak the word, and the miracle will occur.  He illustrates his faith in the power of Christ by referring to his own authority, which as an army officer was considerable.  By his mere spoken word he could send one soldier this way, another soldier that.  He could beckon one, and dismiss another, simply by the power of his spoken word.  But this was a power conferred upon him by human authority.  He knew that Christ’s authority was on an entirely different level than his own.  Whereas he could order those of inferior rank, and command their obedience, Jesus could also speak a word, and send away a disease which held this poor slave helpless in its grip.

Jesus, after His human nature, marveled at this great confession of faith.  Would that we too had such faith as this centurion!  The Lord declares that not even in Israel had he found a one who had such great faith in His power over all the forces of nature, and in His boundless grace.  This Gentile, this Roman, this slaveholder, was a man of greater faith even than the Lord’s own disciples.  Seizing the opportunity, Jesus proceeds to declare the conversion of the Gentiles, and the casting off of the Jewish nation:  “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”  This is a plain reference to the forces of the Gentiles, who have been being called in by the preaching of the Gospel  ever since our Lord’s ascension.  But, most solemnly, “the children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness.”  The Jewish nation, which rejected Christ and crucified Him, would see their nation destroyed, their religion outlawed, and they themselves turned into an international pariah.  Though the Lord doubtless still has an elect among the Jewish people, it does appear that this curse and condemnation has not been lifted even to our very day.  We Gentiles, though wicked and ungrateful, are still recipients of His grace, even as was this centurion, whose prayer of faith was answered, and his servant healed.

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