The Amazing Roman Centurion
Introduction – Read Luke 7:1-10
-Jesus Christ had delivered His Sermon on the Mount:
1. He was returning to Capernaum, which had become His home!
2. He had moved from Nazareth, and lives now by the Sea of Galilee!
3. And the people:
-Press in around Him now, to hear and see this Jesus!
-And, to hear and see the marvelous things that follow His ministry!
-And in the crowd:
1. There comes to Him a group of Jewish elders, representing a Roman centurion of all people. It would be like the Jews speaking for and representing a high ranking member of the Muslim Brotherhood today. Get the picture firmly in front of your mind’s eye. This is one of the most astonishing stories in the whole of the New Testament.
2. Matthew’s Gospel says:
“A centurion came.”
-Here in Luke 7:3,
-And later in verse 6,
“Friends came to Him!”
-Do we have a contradiction here? No, not if we understand the Hebrew mind-set!
-The Bible never contradicts itself. Never! In the Word of God, not one truth can possibly contradict another truth. Fact is:
“IF TWO TRUTHS MIGHT CONTRADICT, THEN TWO
CONTRADICTIONS MIGHT BE TRUE.”
a. I can come to you by means of a message, and by means of a messenger!
b. And Luke here reveals not only the message of the Centurion, but the messengers too!
c. He gives some added brushstrokes to the Gospel’s painting of Christ’s ministry!
I. Who/What Is A Centurion?
-A Centurion is an officer in the Roman Army!
1. The Roman Army was at the time the army of occupation in Israel! Jesus in His earthly ministry stands in the chill shadow of the way things work in a world dominated by brute force, a world of “might makes right.” But it’s more than just that! Because the Caesar represented something more for Jews in Jesus’ day: the Romans were an occupying power. The Romans were an obstacle to the fulfillment of Jewish aspirations to again have a land they could call their own. There were lots of reasons the Jews pined for the advent of God’s Messiah, the Christ, but among the sharper hungers the people felt was the hunger to kick out the Caesar and all his hosts so that David’s latter-day heir could again ascend the throne in Jerusalem. The Jews were sick and tired of Jerusalem and every other city being nothing more than ANOTHER CAESARVILLE.
2. The Centurion is a man known for the full Roman soldier regalia and garb! Make no mistake about it, he was a high-ranking officer in the hated army of occupation. But something huge spiritually had happened deep in the heart of this man that will be strikingly revealed as we go along.
3. He was over soldiers:
-A legion of soldiers in the Roman Army consisted of 6,000 soldiers!
-And, a legion was divided into “60 Centuries” of 100 soldiers each!
-And the Centurion’s responsibility was to be over and responsible for 100 soldiers!
4. One thing is very clear about this man:
“He was a man under authority!”
-For we read him saying later in Luke 7:8,
“FOR I ALSO AM A MAN SET UNDER AUTHORITY,
HAVING UNDER ME SOLDIERS!”
-In other words, the Roman Centurion clearly understands a kingdom principle:
1. He completely understands and accepts himself as a man under authority!
2. And, because he accepts authority over him, he “transmits authority to others below him!”
3. To those under him, and it works, for his soldiers do what he says!
-We read in Luke 7:8,
“I SAY TO ONE GO, AND HE GOETH: TO ANOTHER COME
AND HE COMETH!”
–And, he understands THAT SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY is the key to Jesus’ successful ministry too!
-He says to Jesus in Luke 7:8,
“FOR I ALSO AM A MAN UNDER AUTHORITY!”
-Me too Lord, and, you too Lord,
“To be under and respect authority, you have authority!”
-That’s how a powerful army works, the Roman Army, or the Church Army:
“TO HAVE AUTHORITY, YOU MUST BE SUBMITTED
More than that:
-He was a trustworthy man, just to have the title of Centurion.
-To be delegated the Centurion’s responsibility and position meant:
1. That you had been with the Roman Army for a very long time!
2. You had a long tenure of good, faithful, obedient service!
3. You were a man of tremendous discipline, a learner under discipline himself!
4. And, you expected the same thing in the soldiers under your command!
5. If you will, he was a longstanding, dyed-in-the wool Roman Officer. He marched under the Roman Eagle and would swoop down in stealth and power WHEREVER HE WAS ORDERED TO.
-Remarkable when you think about it, how many men introduce themselves as MEN UNDER AUTHORITY, and do so positively and almost proudly in a good sense? Very few! Why? Because:
a. There is strong opposition to subjection and submission in every soul of mankind. It is the sin nature in man of which we read in Proverbs 17:11,
“An evil man seeketh only rebellion, therefore a cruel
messenger shall be sent against him.”
And Deuteronomy 9:24,
“You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day
that I knew you.”
b. No man is born a submissive man, for each man comes into the world with sinful pride, rebellion, and independence.
c. Those mountains must be leveled into valleys before man can become a humbly submitted person. It does not happen easily.
d. As a matter of fact, no man readily allows the spirit of submission in himself, and rarely lauds or commends it in others.
d. But hear me:
“IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR A MAN TO BE EITHER GREAT OR
GOOD WITHOUT HUMBLE SUBMISSION TO
Each of us wants to be viewed from the TOP DOWN rather than from the BOTTOM UP. It is the OLD OVER AND UNDER SYNDROME! There is not one man who has ever been born who naturally wants TO BE RULED, BUT RATHER, TO RULE. It’s in his bones as well as in his brains. And man EQUATES SUBMISSIVENESS WITH INFERIORITY, as well as AUTHORITY WITH SUPERIORITY. There is the rub!
The story is told that one evening a man in a Dearborn, Michigan, restaurant bumped into no less than the famous Chrysler chairman, Lee Iacocca. “Oh, Mr. Iacocca,” the man exclaimed, “What an honor to meet you! Say, my name is Jack and I’m having a business dinner with some colleagues over there at that corner table. It would really impress my friends if you could come over in a few minutes and say, ‘Hi, Jack,’ like you know me!” Iacocca good-naturedly agreed and so some minutes later went over to the table and said, “Hello, Jack! How are you?” Jack then looked up and said, “Not now, Lee. We’re busy!”
This perhaps apocryphal story underscores the core of pride: we always want to look more powerful and impressive and authoritative than we really are. Or at very least we want to take what we already have in life and use it as a pedestal from which to look down on as many people as we can (while also hoping, of course, that all of those people will return the favor and so look up to us). It is no accident that the images typically associated with pride have to do with height: the proud are said to look down their noses at others, are said to always be riding their high horse, are said to have a lofty opinion of themselves and a soaring ego.
The great irony and beauty of the Christian faith is the Gospel truth that the one Being in the universe who really is more exalted, more lofty, and more powerful than anyone is the same Being who, far from using His lofty position as a platform for pride, once upon a time stooped lower than low so as humbly to save us from our sinful pride.
Indeed, it appears that already in the earliest days of the Christian church, believers were captivated by the spectacle of God’s Son becoming a human being. We Americans have long been inspired by Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches stories of the common man making it big. America, we say with great pride, is the place where you really can rise up from the poverty of a log cabin to become an Abraham Lincoln, where two guys who used to make little bars of soap in their basement can end up founding Amway, where one guy with a computer idea can turn into Bill Gates the multi-billionaire.
But the earliest Christians knew that the greatest story ever told is not a rags-to-riches tale but the universe’s premiere riches-to-rags story. For the tale of Jesus the Christ being born into this world represents our only hope of salvation. Jesus is the stone that the builders rejected—the modest, almost ridiculous-looking One who ended up being the key to what the whole cosmic story has been about from the very beginning.
-Such a man as the ROMAN CENTURION was called:
“The Cement of the Roman Army!”
1. He understood authority over him!
2. He realized the chain of command over him going all the way to the Emperor!
3. He realized, respected, and understood that very chain of command!
4. And because of that, he also understood the following as he says to Jesus,
“I have authority, and I say to one go, and he goes, come,
and he comes!”
-One can almost hear him click his heals. One can feel in him the military!
-He in fact, just flat out “oozes” discipline.
-That is why such a man was called “The Cement of the Roman Army,” because he literally held it altogether!
There is power in an army when it’s under authority:
1. Understand me, when we truly grasp the chain of command all the way to Christ the King!
2. No power of evil can stand against the people of God, when they are submitted under the chain of command all the way to King Jesus. Hear that strong!
“Sister Estell Carver, who is in heaven now, and she lived in heaven a great deal before she got there!! She taught in a boy’s school in New Haven, Connecticut! And she was walking down the street one night, and two boys jumped out in front of her from behind a clump of bushes! She stopped and looked at them, and she said, “I shall not give you my pocket book! You can take it away from me if you like. You are strong men and I’m 73 years old, and I know you can take it from me, but, I am not going to give it to you! But listen:
a, “If you do take it, your parents first of all will be very disappointed!” Neither one of your mothers thought they were giving birth to crooks! Neither one of them thought they gave birth to sons who are old-lady robbers!! And, if you take my pocket book, they will be disappointed!
b. Furthermore, if you rob me, I’ll be greatly disappointed! And I worked with young boys all my life long! I never yet met a young boy who I thought was a thief! And, I don’t believe you boys are, I really don’t. And you are going to disappoint me, if you take my pocket book!
c. And above all, there’s God Himself Who is going to be disappointed. Something in you knows God didn’t make you to rob from old ladies!
d. And one of the boys said to the other: “Let’s split!” And they took off and ran through the bushes!
e. You see:
-That was a pretty good size act of faith in a 73 year old woman of God!
-She knew where she and they stood in the chain of command, and she appealed to it!
-It saved her pocket book; and more possibly her life!
II. A VERY UNIQUE CENTURION
This centurion was a very rare, very special centurion! He seemed “To Love God and He Loved Israel!” That’s first of all! Since when does anyone from an invading force love the Jews? Or their God? Whether the Romans or the Germans or the Palestinians! What’s so rare as a day in June! What’s so rare as a Roman officer loving the Jewish people! He is amazing! What he had done was amazing!
1. According to Luke 7:5,
“HE BUILT A SYNAGOGUE IN CAPERNAUM!”
2. What? That was highly unusual for a Roman Centurion, to build a synagogue! That would be like a Taliban terrorist building the Jewish Temple. Amazing!
3. The main worship of Roman Empire was Emperor Worship:
-That was, in fact, the main thing that really held the empire together!
-Their philosophy was,
“Go ahead and worship anything, but worship the
Emperor as Lord!”
4. If you were a good citizen of Rome:
a. You would stand before the Emperor’s Statute once a year!
b. And, you would say:
“Caesar is Lord, Savior, with incense going up!”
c. Then you were in!
d. And, then you could worship any old god you wanted too – Roman Polytheism!
5. One problem:
“The Jews were the only ones who did not have a physical – visible God! And they were the only ones who dared to say that their God was everywhere, not just in Israel! I mean, their God controls the whole wide world! Therefore, the Romans hated the Jews, even as the Jews hated the Romans, particularly the Roman soldiers; why, when they spoke of them, they would spit!”
It also means that the Centurion came to faith in God:
1. For this man to build a synagogue to the everywhere-present Jahweh!
2. To that God of the Jews Who was despised by Romans everywhere.
3. Means that he somewhere at some time had a dramatic and amazing conversion!
4. Really, by doing that:
-He had thrown his whole lot into the community of these Hebrew people! Amazing!
-He had accepted the Old Testament of the Jews as the Revelation of God to man!
-For in the synagogue that he built the Old Testament was read day by day!
-And he must have therefore, looked for the coming of Messiah!
-Once you open your heart to and embrace the Bible as truth, all of your old and false belief system begins to fall like dominoes. This amazing man’s entire life IS BEGINNING TO UNRAVEL INTO WHOLENESS. I have the gut feelng that he really neither loved or even liked what he had believed and been a part ot, and he was searching deep in his heart. For the first time he found the truth, and loved it. I believe this amazing fellow is the embodiment of what the Bible means when it says:
“THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH.”
-He wasn’t a truly orthodox, converted to Judaism-Jew as such!
-He was what they called as a Gentile, a “Godfearer!”
-He came into the synagogue, was seated at the back, with the Jews in the front row! Sort of like racial segregation! This was RELIGIOUS SEGREGATION!
6. That’s what the Book of Acts meant:
a. When Paul was in Antioch, in the synagogue on the Sabbath day.
b. He stood up and said in Acts 13:16,
“MEN OF ISRAEL, AND YE THAT FEAR GOD!”
c. The fully Jewish, and those uncircumcised that fear God! The Centurion was in latter category!
d. He was a God-fearer, you Jews in front row, and you God-fearing Gentiles in the back row! And maybe, just maybe, it was meant as a slam to the Jews who no longer FEARED GOD. They were more men of Israel than they were men of Godly fear. I mean, think of how you would feel if you were sitting up front at a AMERICAN FREEDOM RALLY and the speaker said, “You Americans in the front rows here, and you who reverence the Lord back there.”
7. And don’t make a terrible mistake here, and that is that only the Gentiles have to fear God, while the true people God do not have to fear God. Wrong, big time wrong. The entire summary of the Christian life is this one great phrase – THE FEAR OF GOD. Jesus in Luke 12:5 enforces those same words by saying:
“Fear the One Who after He has killed has authority to
cast into Hell; yes, I tell you, FEAR HIM.”
“HE WHO FEARS GOD AS HE SHOULD IN THIS WORLD,
WILL HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR ABOUT
THE NEXT WORLD.”
-Not only a lover of the Jewish nation. Not only converted to God!
–He was committed, sold out, completely devoted!
-He was obviously a wealthy man to be able to build a synagogue! This was not just an addition that he built. This was not just new bathrooms. THIS WAS THE WHOLE ENCHILADA – A COMPLETELY NEW SYNAGOGUE. Amazing! I would say that this is more than just a statement of favor. He was committed enough, that he threw his faith in God into the offering bucket!
-I mean, he puts his faith all on the line – that’s commitment! You can tell commitment to the Lord on the basis of three major realities given to Him – TIME – ENERGY – MONEY. Anything beside or less than that is just blowing smoke.
-Notice that beautiful 5th verse,
“HE LOVES OUR NATION AND BUILT US
1.) You can tell love by commitment, not by lots of talk and promises!
2.) Love is not a four letter word, love is a life laid down! Boom!!!
3.) Hear it:
“THE ONLY PEOPLE UPON WHOM JESUS WILL BUILD
HIS CHURCH ARE THOSE WHO ARE TOTALLY
SOLD OUT TO HIM.”
It is instructive to drive through ritzy developments and notice that everything a person could possibly want was thought of by the real estate developers. Like driving through a Michigan town that has recently seen an explosion of multi-million dollar homes on the choicest lakefront lots.
As that area has seen a sharp spike in wealthy residents, lots of things expanded accordingly. Malls needed to be built or upgraded, more movie screens and golf courses were required, lush horse stables were erected, world-class restaurants opened and flourished, and even supermarkets needed to add gourmet sections so that all the ingredients for truly high-end cooking could be found.
About the only thing in this town that did not change was worship space. Despite a huge influx of new wealthy residents, somehow or another the same old white clapboard country church that has been there for years continues to suffice. Curious, isn’t it?
The wealthy Roman Centurion had a God-Change, a Heart-Change, and one of the first evidences was that he had a Value-Change. So he put his wealth to God’s use, and built a SYNAGOGUE which is an unheard of thing for a Gentile to do, let alone a Roman Gentile.
This means in short:
1.) With all of his wealth, he is dedicated to that which he has now come to believe!
2.) To the extent, that he puts it all on the line!
3.) Like the praying Korean warriors:
In the Young Nak church, giving 50% of their income to the church and sending missionaries into the surrounding countries, while they pray without ceasing! That’s where the dead are being raised in the 21st century!
-He was a amazingly loving, caring man, considering the Roman Culture that he had been brought up trained in!
-Highly unusual for a Roman of stature and wealth, to give a flip about their servants!
-You probably would be interested in this:
1.) Seeing the time of year we’re in, namely, entering spring!
2.) This comes down to us in old archives of Roman History, in a letter to Roman business men:
-They suggest that at the end of every year, they should go through all of their slaves.
-And any sick, old, malfunctioning, get rid of them.
-Like going through house and dumping all that which we don’t need – Spring Cleaning.
-After all, what good are sick slaves, old slaves? Get rid of them before the New Year and start fresh!
3.) In fact, servants – slaves to them, weren’t even human:
–Aristotle wrote that a slave is a living tool, but a tool, no more, no less!
-Just as a tool is an inanimate slave, so too, a slave is an animate tool!
-Just that it breathes and talks, but after that, no difference!! That is the climate of that day!
4. But here is a man:
-Who not only cares for his slave, but loves him, and cries out to Jesus for him!
-It speaks of the conversion of his life to God, in that he wanted his servant relieved of pain!
-Usually, they could care less! But this man was a man of God!
When a man meets God, he finally meets what really matters in life. Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary family in China who was forced to leave the country sometime after the communists took over. One day a band of soldiers knocked on the door and told this missionary, his wife, and children that they had two hours to pack up before these troops would escort them to the train station. They would be permitted to take with them only two hundred pounds of stuff.
Thus began two hours of family wrangling and bickering–what should they take? What about this vase? It’s a family heirloom, so we’ve got to take the vase. Well, maybe so, but this typewriter is brand new and we’re not about to leave that behind. What about some books? Got to take a few of them along! On and on it went, putting stuff on the bathroom scale and taking it off until finally they had a pile of possessions that totaled two hundred pounds on the dot.
At the appointed hour the soldiers returned.
“Are you ready?” they asked.
“Did you weigh your stuff?”
“Yes, we did.”
“Two hundred pounds?”
“Yes, two hundred pounds on the dot.”
“Did you weigh the kids?”
“Um, . . . no.”
“Weigh the kids!”
And in an instant the vase, the typewriter, and the books all became trash. Trash! None of it meant anything compared to the surpassing value of the children. Sometimes we all face “the moment of truth.” Sometimes events crash into our lives in so shocking a way that we are instantly forced to view all of life in a new light. Suddenly what had previously been of value to us comes to mean absolutely nothing–we’re only too happy to leave it behind.
The Roman Centurion could part with a goodly amount of his money, but he could not stand to part with his sick-and-dying servant. It was his MOMENT OF TRUTH when his servant’s pain became his pain, and his servant’s life became his life. Frankly, it is the ONLY MOMENT OF TRUTH FOR ALL OF US ETERNALLY, as the issues that Jesus will confront us with in the judgment are not tongues, miracles, and prophecies, BUT RATHER, HOW DID WE TREAT THE HUNGRY, THIRSTY, SICK, IMPRISONED, and NAKED. Those my friends will be the DEFINING MOMENTS OF ETERNAL TRUTH that separate the sheep from the goats.
-He was a protected man!
-You just don’t build a synagogue for Jahweh, as a Roman Centurion under God – Caesar!
-And live to tell about it, unless you are under a special dispensation of God’s sheltering love! Amazing protection!
-You know, God really does care for His own, doesn’t He?
-Don’t you just love the words of Psalms 91:15,
“HE SHALL CALL UPON ME, SAYS THE LORD, AND I
WILL ANSWER HIM: I WILL
BE WITH HIM IN TROUBLE: I WILL DELIVER HIM,
AND HONOR HIM!”
-Some time ago:
“One of our black pastors in Zimbabwe was surrounded by 3 men from an extremist group; armed revolutionaries, who were going to kill him!! The Pastor said calmly; ‘My life is hidden in Christ; I can’t stop you from killing me; but I’ll be glad to pray for you!’ They looked at him in silence for a bit; and then they all said, ‘Yes, we would like you to pray for us if that’s what you want to do!’ So they dropped their guns, and he prayed for them, and they stood there together with their heads bowed! And, after the prayer was over, they simply left quietly, without harming a hair on his head!”
-He was an amazingly humble and self-effacing man considering his position and status militarily! One would expect a ROMAN CENTURION to be anything but self-negating and CHRIST EXALTING! We read of it in Luke 7:6-7,
“Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy
for You to come under my roof;”
“for this reason I do not even consider myself worthy to
come to you, but just say the word, and my servant
will be healed.”
-This man was so filled with holy and exalted thoughts about Jesus, and so filled with the grace of humility, that He both felt unworthy of Christ comig to his house, as well as unworhty of his coming to Christ period. Centurions were accustomed to giving orders and striking fear in the hearts of those beneath and around them. Not this one! Jesus saw this as one of the greatest qualities of this one-in-a-million military types.
-Most other MILITARY-MINDED would probably have GIVEN JESUS AN ORDER TO HEAL THEIR SERVANT. Or at the least, commanded Jesus to come to their house. That is what we are living in the midst of in the church today. Not great humility and tearful petition, but rather GREAT FOLLY AND PERSUMPTION, telling the Lord what He ought to do, and sending instructions to Heaven. In essence:
“POMPOUS FOOLS WHO DO NOT PRAY BUT PRESCRIBE
Much of the modern religious scene has lost all REVERENCE FOR DIVINITY, as well as the SENSE OF UNWORTHINESS BEFORE THE HOLY MAJESTY OF GOD.
Recently the American Film Institute conducted a big survey to determine the top 100 heroes in the cinematic industry. Happily, and somewhat surprisingly, the number-one movie was not some gun-toting, violent figure, but instead the character of ATTICUS FINCH from the film “TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.” Gregory Peck played the role of Finch, and he did so with a kind of simplicity that managed to convey a tremendous amount of moral heft, gravity, and power.
In the story, ATTICUS FINCH is an attorney who defends a black man against a false rape charge made by a white woman. Although he ultimately lost the case, Finch throws himself into that trial with such ardor, compassion, and conviction that he wins the reverential respect of the entire black community.
The one scene in that movie that brings tears to many eyes comes after the unjust guilty verdict is handed down by the ALL-WHITE JURY. The trial is over, and so the main floor of the courtroom has emptied out. But the balcony, where the black people of the segregated community had to sit, is still packed. The ONLY WHITE PERSON up there is FINCH’S DAUGHTER – SCOUT. While Atticus silently packs up his briefcase at the defense table, one man nudges Scout and says, “STAND UP, MISS SCOUT, STAND UP.” The child asks, “How come?” And the answer comes back,
“YOUR FATHER IS PASSING BY.”
And as ATTICUS FINCH exits the courtroom, every black person in the balcony stands at attention, both silent and reverent before this white man whom they had come to respect and adore.
Reverence and homage like that is something we see little of anymore, either for God the Father or for human fathers. Ours is a society that will lampoon, satirize, and poke fun of even God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In fact, the GODHEAD has become the target of irreverent humor that has become the staple of late-night comedians. Often you will hear these days someone blurt out, “Is nothing sacred anymore?” And the answer is clearly, “No!”
“ONCE YOU LOSE THE SENSE OF THE SACRED, YOU
LOSE ALL FEAR OF MOCKING AND POLLUTING
THE HOLY GOD.”
And so, REVERENCE FOR GOD HAS WITHERED AWAY, and the sense of OUR UNWORTHINESS IN HIS HOLY PRESENCE HAS COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED IN SOCIETY AND IN MUCH OF THE MODERN CHURCH. Are you kidding Mr. Centurion, that you feel unworthy for Christ to even enter your house, and for you to enter His persense? What kind of nut are you? Why, WE HAVE SCHEDULED THE HEALER TO SHOW UP ‘IN THE HOUSE’ tonight at 6:00 p.m. I mean, we are coming to the healing service with great expectation that He will give us what we claim and command Him as ours. Frankly, I think that this Roman Centurion would kick our cocky, civilian, religious butts so hard that his Roman boot would have to be surgically removed from our hind parts.
“WHEN IS THE LAST TIME WE HAVE BEEN STUNNED
INTO BENDED-KNEE SILENCE, OR COVERED OUR
FACES IN UNWORTHINESS OF BEING IN THE
PRESENCE OF THE ONE WHO IS TOO
BEAUTIFUL AND HOLY TO
Conclusion to #2:
1.) A very unusual centurion here indeed and here in the beginnings of life in his spirit!
2.) Here, he is worshiping God the best way he knows how!
3.) A centurion, who is waiting for the Messiah to come:
-And, no doubt, this Centurion had heard about Jesus Christ already!
-Impossible to think that anyone who lived in that area, did not hear of Jesus in those days!
-I mean, in Jesus’ home town, where some of His greatest miracles took place!
-And, he had no doubt, heard the speculations of Jesus being Messiah, the Anointed One!
-I dare say he had probably heard Jesus Himself, and therefore comes to Jesus.
III. THE CENTURION’S SERVANT
-This servant, from the harmony of the gospels, and from analysis of the Greek words:
1.) Was extremely ill!! According to Matthew 8:6,
“WAS PARALYZED, AND IN GREAT, GREAT PAIN!”
2.) His death is imminent, and the Greek words suggest terrible, terrible suffering!!
3.) One translation of Matthew 8:6,
“GRIEVOUSLY TORMENTED”, says, “FEARFULLY TORTURED!”
4.) It gives the idea of a progressed paralysis, with now painful convulsions in the muscles.
5.) Perhaps it has gone into the respiratory system, and he was choking to death! Luke 7:2 says,
“READY TO DIE!”
-In this Roman master’s house, is this suffering, dying, servant, ready to die!
-And now, in desperation, he according to Luke 7:3,
“SEND SOME JEWISH ELDERS TO HIM – JESUS.”
-As a person, he probably felt unworthy himself to have this King of Jews listen to him! Hence, his friends patronize Jesus somewhat and tell him that the centurion loves God’s people and built them a synagogue!
-Some of you may feel unworthy too! Certainly, we can’t expect this Jesus to come to our house! I mean, Gentiles there who were sick and dying, from the Jews it would not elicit a compassionate response!
-In the writing of the Pharisees of that day, we read, “Concerning a dying Gentile, let him die in pain, and when he dies, and drops into hell, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God in heaven.”
-Isn’t that sweet? Talk about feeling unworthy!! In fact, another actual quote from the Pharisees’ writings was, “When a Gentile sinner dies, there is rejoicing in heaven!” That was their tradition!
-Jesus Christ absolutely contrasted that statement, and He literally misquoted on purpose their traditions and said in Luke 15:7,
“I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT THERE WILL BE MORE JOY
IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTS….”
-Jesus turned it around right in the faces of the Pharisees!
-You who are feeling unworthy, there is a word for you tonight. Listen carefully, for Jesus Christ is in our midst!
-How did the Centurion react?
-The centurion doesn’t really ask for anything:
1. He simply said to Jesus in Matthew 8:6,
“MY SERVANT LIETH AT HOME, PALSIED,
2. He simply lays out the problem before Jesus:
-And Jesus leaps at the opportunity, even before he or they had a chance to ask!
-Jesus simply says in Matthew 8:7,
“I WILL COME AND HEAL HIM!”
-Praise the Lord! Oh, the incredible desire and willingness of Jesus to heal:
1. That desire jumps all social and cultural barriers – Jews blessing Romans or whatever.
2. The Love of God in Jesus Christ cannot be bound by traditions or walls!
3. Hear me:
-It is emphatic, some of you must hear this. You have doubts about God’s will to heal.
-Jesus is more than willing, and emphatically grasps the opportunity to heal the sick slave,
“I WILL COME AND HEAL HIM!”
And note the strong certainty of Jesus:
1.) If you will,
“I WILL COME, AND I WILL HEAL HIM!”
2.) Powerful, powerful certainty on Jesus’ part, not presumption, not just a word.
3.) Don’t try to mimic that, and think that it is some kind of formula!
4.) Jesus knew the love of the Father, and the mind of the Father for this servant:
-“I WILL COME”, and when I get there, “I WILL
-Didn’t even say, “I will come and pray for him,” rather, “I will heal him!”
-Nothing wrong with prayer, that is not the point! Point is Jesus’ confidence and expectancy!
-In fact, Jesus would pray all night long, and Jesus would pray early in morning!
-Wanting to discover the will of the Father, to know the heart of the Father!
a. Having prayed up, He went up to that or that situation, and didn’t pray anymore. Hear it:
“JESUS LIVED PRAYED THROUGH, AND THEREFORE
THE POWER OF GOD GOT THROUGH IN
b. In fact, when He got there, never did Jesus pray for the sick as such!
-It already had been done, and Jesus was prayerfully empowered – PRAYED UP AND POWERED UP.
-Shattering thing to discover that Jesus never actually prayed for the sick on location. Rather, Jesus simply healed them! We would tend to soften faith, by saying, “I will come and pray!” Jesus says, “I WILL COME AND HEAL!”
-It was all rooted in knowing the heart of the Father! And Jesus knew the eager desire of the Father to bless, and representing the Father, He said,
“I WILL COME, AND I WILL HEAL HIM!”
-There! No formulas! But only oneness with God!
IV. THE CENTURION’S FAITH
-When Jesus approached the house, the centurion sent this word to Jesus, Luke 7:6-7,
”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!”
-Jesus in turn marveled at him (verse 9):
1. There are really only two instances in Scripture where Jesus was amazed!
2. We read in Mark 6:6,
“IN NAZARETH JESUS MARVELED AT
3. And Jesus in Luke 7:9,
“HE MARVELS AT THIS MAN’S AMAZING FAITH FOR
HIS SERVANT! JESUS HAS FOUND NO SUCH
FAITH IN ALL OF ISRAEL.”
4. Seems like Jesus reacted exaggeratedly to either small faith or great faith!
5. Seems like Jesus was stirred either by “faith positively” or by “unbelief negatively.”
What was this man’s amazing faith greater than all the Hebrew people?
-Simply because this Centurion told Jesus that He didn’t have to come all the way to his house. Rather, he said that Jesus was able to heal his servant RIGHT THERE MILES AWAY BY SIMPLY SPEAKING HIS AUTHORITATIVE and POWERFUL WORD.
-Long distance healing based upon ONLY A WORD from the lips of Jesus Christ would be more than enough. The Centurion saw it right:
a. Jesus was perfectly submitted under HIS FATHER’S AUTHORITY, and because He was, THE FATHER’S POWER ATTENDED HIM WHEREVER HE WENT AND TO WHOM EVER HE MINISTERED.
b. Now for us, ALL AUTHORITY HAS BEEN INVESTED BY THE FATHER IN HIS SON (Matthew 28:18). No one but Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and on Earth. NO ONE! Whatever authority we need is given to us the moment we need it. In Jesus Christ we have the authority and the power to kick demons out of the possessed from here to the gates of hell.
c.. When WE ARE TOTALLY SUBMITTED TO JESUS CHRIST’S ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY, THE POWER OF JESUS ATTENDS US WHEREVER WE GO AND TO WHOM EVER WE MINISTER.
d. Jesus came into the world with ONE ALL-CONSUMING SPIRIT, and that was TO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER WHO SENT HIM, and the Father anointed HIM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WITH POWER. And when we go into the world with ONE ALL-CONSUMING SPIRIT, AND THAT IS TO DO THE WILL OF CHRIST WHO SENDS US, JESUS WILL ANOINT US WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WITH POWER.
e. And then like Jesus, when we PRAY, WITNESS, LAY HANDS ON THE SICK, and CAST OUT DEVILS in the authority of Jesus’ name, the power of the Holy Spirit is there to save, heal, and deliver.
-Accepted the vision and goal of the Roman Empire as common to himself! Deep in his very heart! He was submitted to that vision and the authority above it:
1. So that when those above him sent a word, he is totally willing to follow through!
2. And, he turns with that word to Capernaum, where he was sent by the Power of Rome!
3. And, in submission, he says to those under him, “Based on the word I give, you do this or that!”
4. And, he is in harmony with that word, in harmony with that vision:
-And, when he gives that word, they click their heals, and they do it!
a. Because the soldiers know that he represents the “Powers That Be!”
b. If they didn’t, they would be defying the chain of command!
c. Not just defying him, but all the way up, defying the General who sent the centurion!
d. And, defying the General’s General, right to the throne of Caesar!
And says the centurion, with that understanding:
1. I see too, that you are also a man under authority! (John’s Gospel)
2. I see that you, Lord Jesus, are in a chain of command, a chain that goes all the way to the throne of God!
3. I see that you are harmoniously submitted, and given to the goals and visions of the One over You!
4. And, how do I know you’re submitted to authority?
-Simply because I’ve been watching you, and you transmit authority!
–You SAY to Satan, go, and he goes; and to the Holy Spirit, come, and He comes!
–You SAY to disease, go, and it goes; and to health, come, and it comes!
-I’ve been watching you, and I know the secret:
“You transmit authority, because you are
5. Jesus alone IS THE WORD! He alone is THE DIVINE WORD. He alone is the CREATIVE WORD. He alone is the REDEMPTIVE WORD. He alone is the HEALING WORD. He alone is the DELIVERANCE WORD. He alone is the FIRST AND THE LAST WORD. He alone is the AUTHORITATIVE WORD. He alone is the ALL-POWERFUL WORD. Nowhere are Christians called THE WORD. We may not, must not, and in fact cannot replace HIM AS THE WORD FOR ANY OR ALL SITUATIONS. Hear it:
“EVEN AS THE CENTURION’S AUTHORITATIVE WORD
EMPOWERED HIS SOLDIERS, SO CHRIST’S
AUTHORITATIVE WORD EMPOWERERS
-And when we cry out to the Father as Jesus did, and we witness for Christ, lay hands on and pray for the sick, and cast out demons in His name, JESUS SPEAKS THE WORD OF HIS ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY AND POWER TO MAKE IT SO.
V. THE CENTURION’S KINGDOM TRANSFER
But the ROMAN CENTURION is under a totally different authority you see:
-The ROMAN EAGLE IN ITS STRENGTH AND QUICKNESS stood for OPPRESSION, SUPPRESSION, and WORLD DOMINATION.
-In Jesus, he saw authority and power to DELIVER, RELEASE, AND TOTALLY SET PEOPLE FREE from those realities which neither Rome nor he could do anything about.
-When the Romans conquered an enemy, it was indeed the general himself only who was said to triumph. Here is a Centurion who is rejoicing over General Jesus and the far greater victories that He is winning to bless people and not to destroy them.
-The Centurion was beginning to see that THE ROMAN POWER AND AUTHORITY BEHIND HIM was nothing compared to THE POWER AND AUTHORITY THAT WAS BEHIND JESUS.
-If you will:
“THE ROMAN CENTURION WAS BEING DRAWN AWAY
FROM THE SUPPRESSING POWER OF ROME TO THE
SURPASSING POWER OF GOD – FROM A POWER
THAT INFLICTED DEATH TO A POWER THAT
-It must be the same today, that the Islamic peoples of the world be delivered from a demon god who specializes in hatred and death, to the TRUE GOD – JESUS CHRIST Who specializes in LOVE AND LIFE. From the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of the Son of God’s love.
“You submit to authority ordained by God, and God will
invest in you authority over Satan’s powers!”
-For the Lord Jesus, He spoke the word, and the authority was transmitted:
1. We read in Matthew 8:13 Jesus spoke the word.
“AS THOU HAST BELIEVED, BE IT DONE UNTO THEE!”
2. We read in Matthew 8:13 the authority was transmitted,
“HIS SERVANT WAS HEALED THAT VERY HOUR!”
3. Why? Because as the Centurion said,
“YOU, LIKE ME, ARE A MAN UNDER AUTHORITY!”
“A preacher, a humble servant of God, was riding in his car, and picked up a male hitchiker! Rode with the hitchiker 2 – 3 hours, then came to the edge of town! He felt something in his side that he thought he recognized! Sure enough, the hitchiker had a pistol on him, and told Pastor Daly to pull over to the curb! And the man said, “Give me all the money you have!!” And the Pastor said “All the money I have on me belongs to Jesus!! And if Jesus wants you to have it, you don’t need a gun to get it!! And if Jesus doesn’t want you to have it, a gun won’t get it!! Shall we pray?”
“When asked what kind of prayer he prayed, he said a prayer of repentance! But Pastor Daly, you weren’t the sinner! And he said, ‘Yes I was the sinner! When I knelt to pray, I was ashamed that that young man had ridden with me for 3 hours, and did not feel anymore love than to make him feel he had to have a gun to get my money! I realized I had sinned against God, and against him!’”
“And I repented, and when I finished my prayer of repentance, the gun was lying on the seat, the man was crying, and he said, go ahead and take me to the law! And Pastor Daly said, ‘You have already been before the Judge of the universe, and I believe He’s setting you free!’ He said, ‘Let me out of this car!’ And he started to get out of the car, and as he did, the Pastor said, ‘Wait a minute young man, God’s about to answer your prayer! God wants you to have some of His money, so let me share with you what I’ve got!’ And he had to force the young man to take even some money! It’s authority in love! Compassion in submission!”
God bless you! Amen!!!