Healing the centurion's servant
- "Matthew 8:5-13" redirects here.
- "Luke 7:1-10" redirects here.
According to the Gospels, a Roman centurion asked Jesus for help because his boy servant was ill. Jesus offered to go to the centurion's house to perform the healing, but the centurion suggested that Jesus perform the healing at a distance. When Jesus heard this, he said:
Truly I tell you, 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, whern there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.
And the boy was healed at that very hour.
Matthew 8:5-13 (TNVI)
|“||When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly." Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?" The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word. 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." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, 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." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.||”|
Luke 7:1-10 (TNVI)
|“||When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But 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." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.||”|
The centurion supported the Jewish community by building them a synagogue and showing love for the Israeli nation. Since Gentiles were considered unclean by Jews, the actions of the Jewish elders approaching Jesus to petition him to heal the centurion's servant who was critically ill and about to die provides evidence that this particular centurion was viewed in a different light than a typical Gentile. Out of humility and respect for Jewish custom regarding clean and unclean, the centurion did not want Jesus to come into his house and become unclean, so he sent out friends to meet Jesus as he was coming close to the house.
The faith of the centurion is highlighted by Jesus to the crowd that followed since he believed that Jesus only needed to speak the word, and his servant would be healed. This shows his absolute confidence in the power of Jesus's word over the power of sickness. Jesus could erase the sickness without even being physically present next to the servant child. The authority of Jesus is compared to that of a military commander that can command someone to go or to come and the instructions would be obeyed. Being a soldier, the centurion would be intimately familiar with the process of issuing and obeying commands. He had faith that Jesus could command and drive out evil powers because of his authority in the spirit world.
For the local Jewish population, a Roman centurion is the principal representative of the Roman Empire in the area, both militarily and administratively. He is Rome as far as they are concerned, so the recognition of the Lordship of Jesus by this principle Roman representative of military power provides strong affirmation of the supremacy of Christ.
Author John Clowes commented that the use of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob refers to the degree of blessedness by which people are admitted to the feast, in that Abraham signifies the celestial degree, Isaac the spiritual and Jacob the natural degree.
Only Luke 7:2 refers to the servant as doulos, unambiguously meaning "servant". Elsewhere the term translated from the Greek as "servant" is pais, which can be translated in a number of different ways including "child" (e.g., Matt 2:16; Luke 2:43,8:51-54 where it refers to a girl), "son" (John 4:51), "servant" (Luke 15:26, Acts 4:25), "male concubine", or be unclear. (this word is cognate to the root of the term "pederasty," which was already in widespread use at the time).
The Gospel of John narrates a similar account of Jesus healing the son of a royal official at Capernaum at a distance in John 4:46-54. Some, such as in Fred Craddock in his commentary on Luke, treats them as the same miracle. However, in his analysis of Matthew, R. T. France presents linguistic arguments against the equivalence of pais and son and considers these two separate miracles. Merrill C. Tenney in his commentary on John and Orville Daniel in his Gospel harmony also consider them two different incidents.
- Life of Jesus in the New Testament
- Ministry of Jesus
- Parables of Jesus
- Homosexuality in the New Testament: Pais
- Biblegateway Matthew 8:5-13
- Biblegateway Luke 7:1-10
- van der Loos, Dr. Hendrik (1965). The Miracles of Jesus. E.J. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 536–538.
- Kyrychenko, Alexander (January 31, 2014). The Roman Army and the Expansion of the Gospel. Walter de Gruyter. p. 182. ISBN 978-3-11-034402-8.
- John Clowes, 1817 The Miracles of Jesus Christ published by J. Gleave, Manchester, UK page 27
- Marston, Paul (2003). Christians, Gays and Gay Christians. Free Methodists. Archived from the original on 2006-04-27.
- Fred Craddock: Luke, 2009 ISBN 0-664-23435-6, page 94
- The Gospel according to Matthew: an introduction and commentary by R. T. France 1987 ISBN 0-8028-0063-7 page 154
- Merrill Tenney: John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 9, Zondervan.
- Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed, Baker Books Pub.