Phil Cox

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The Centurion and the Servant

4th June 2011

I expect sure you're familiar with the story of the centurion with the sick servant:

Matthew 8v5
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralysed and in terrible suffering."

This was an unusual centurion (a centurion was bit like a captain in the Roman army). He showed unusual love for his fellow man, in caring so much for his servant. Although he was a captain in the occupying army in Judea, he went to Jesus, a Judean, to ask for help. And despite his allegiance to Caesar, he called Jesus "Lord".

Matthew 8v6-9
Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."
The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it."

Again, this was a remarkable centurion. He understood, as few understand, that Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth. That Jesus is Lord of all. Jesus is not merely lord of men, women and children; He's Lord of everything including, as this centurion understood, disease. We read in Genesis Chapter 1 that God said "Let there be light" and there was light. God's word is authoritative and creative. And, as the centurion understood, Jesus is God.

Matthew 8v10-12
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Jesus found a greater understanding of his authority - a greater faith - in this Roman centurion than in any member of the covenant race. Jesus said many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven and, in the 2000 years that have followed, many Gentiles have put their faith in Jesus, and are now enjoying relationship with God and are guaranteed a place at the great feast in heaven. It's not where you come from, or what race you belong to, it's not who your parents are, or what they believe, that matters. The question is: Do you have faith in Jesus Christ?

Jesus also said "But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". Many Jews have put their faith in Jesus, and will share in Abraham's feast but, sadly, many others - and many Gentiles - have not. Those who believe in Jesus and accept the forgiveness that is offered through His blood sacrifice will be saved, and those who do not will be cast out for all eternity. Faith is the determining factor.

Matthew 8v10-12
Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Jesus demonstrated his power by speaking the word, and the centurion's servant was instantly healed.

Wonderful!

But I get a sense of sadness when I read this story. The centurion got what he asked for; his servant was healed. But the centurion did not accept what Jesus offered.

Jesus offered to come to the centurion's house, and the centurion said, "no thanks".

I understand that it was culturally difficult for a Jew to enter a Gentile's home a that time. Perhaps the centurion was just being sensitive to that. But Jesus offered to come to his house! (Being "culturally sensitive" was not important to Jesus) What a wonderful thing it would be to have Jesus visit your home! And he said no.

He could have experienced Jesus in his home, in his family, in his life. But all he wanted (it would seem) was the healing.

Of course, we don't know what happened to him afterwards. I hope that he and his household came to faith and that one day we'll meet them in Heaven. All we know is what is written down for us.

And it makes me think: How many times have you or I come to Jesus for healing, or for help, or for guidance, or for a thousand other things, but have not come to Jesus to ask Him to come to our homes and lives?

That's what He offers us: real relationship.