Study 1 THE CENTURION, WHEN HE CAUSED OUR LORD TO MARVEL
OUR LORD’S COMMENDATIONS
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Matthew 8:5-13; Commendation: Verse 10)
In this series of studies we are to link together ten instances where our Lord highly commended individuals or groups of people. The first one we shall consider is the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. This man was a captain in the Roman army with one hundred men under him. He had evidently heard of Jesus. Possibly he had witnessed some of His miracles and had become convinced that Christ was the one sent by God and the Saviour of men. This centurion had a servant whom he loved very much, who was very ill and who, Luke tells us, was “about to die” (Luke 7:2). The need was so great that he came to plead with the Lord Jesus to heal his friend. So notice to begin with:
1. THE REQUEST HE MADE
See verses 5 and 6. Here was a situation where only Jesus could help. The case was desperate, the matter was urgent, so he came to plead with the Lord. Maybe you have some great need? Perhaps you have a loved one who is ill, a problem in business, a domestic crisis, a financial or a spiritual need? Are you, with all your knowledge of the Lord and of His willingness to help and bless, as wise as this Roman soldier was? Have you brought your need to the Lord Jesus? He gives us one comprehensive invitation to cover all our needs - look up Matthew 11:28. How wise the centurion was that in his extremity he came to the Saviour for help! But what happened then?
2. THE ANSWER HE RECEIVED
This is given to us in verse 7. Without any hesitation, the Lord said, “All right! I will go and heal him!” The truth is that this is His attitude towards all who come to Him with their needs. The Bible shows us there are certain needs which we may be confident He will meet, because we have His promises. For example:
- If we need SALVATION, we have His promise in John 10:9. All we have to do is to come to Him and enter into the kingdom by faith in Him. He says so, and faith takes Him at His word and enters in.
- If we need CLEANSING, we may come as the leper came (Mark 1:40-41), saying, “If you are willing, you can make me clean…” - and at once Jesus will say to us, “I am willing; be clean!” Just as the man received cleansing from his leprosy, so we are promised cleansing from our sin - see 1 John 1:7.
- If we need GUIDANCE, let us take hold of the special promise the Lord gives in Psalm 32:8 - one of many assurances in scripture that He will guide us if we will trust Him.
- If we need DELIVERANCE, we may take Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:18 as an assurance that He will put forth His delivering power on our behalf.
- If we need FRUITFULNESS, His promise is that as we come to Him, putting our whole trust in Him, His blessing will flow through us like rivers - look up John 7:37-38.
- If we need ILLUMINATION, He tells us that by keeping close to Him we shall walk in the light and all darkness will be banished - look up John 8:12.
- If we need VICTORY, see the gracious promise He gives in John 16:33 to all who trust in Him.
Whatever our need may be, then the Lord Jesus waits to say to us, “I will …!” - verse 7, and to meet that need by His mighty power. But look again at the centurion and see:
3. THE FAITH HE DISPLAYED
In verses 8 and 9 we note three significant things:
- First: the man’s admission of his unworthiness. Luke gives a very interesting sidelight - look up Luke 7:6-7. This is the right way to come before the Lord - fully aware that we have no merit of our own. We must come as Peter came – look up Luke 5:8; and as the Prodigal Son came - look up Luke 15:18-19.
- Second: the man’s great faith. He said, “Lord, say the word, and the miracle will take place… You needn’t come, for You can heal with a word, even from a distance” - look up Psalm 107:20, and compare Ecclesiastes 8:4; John 6:63.
- Third: the man’s intelligent reasoning. This is recorded in verse 9. As a centurion he not only had authority over a hundred soldiers, but he was under authority himself. He recognised that Jesus was in that same position: that as the Son of Man upon the earth He was under the authority of His Father in Heaven, who had given Him all authority. When the Lord saw this man’s great faith, He spoke a gracious word of commendation. Consider this:
4. THE COMMENDATION HE HEARD
Verses 10-12. This Roman soldier, a Gentile, had greater faith than many of the Jews; and directly Jesus began to commend him for this the centurion knew his prayer was answered for his friend. Why do we not trust Him more? We have far more to encourage us than the centurion had. We have the Bible in our own language, the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, and the testimony of God’s people who have proved the Lord is able and willing to answer prayer! Sadly, we often doubt Him, and He has to say, ”Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). Now we come to the last chapter of the incident:
5. THE MIRACLE HE WITNESSED
Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would” (verse 13). He was saying, “According to your faith will it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29). The measure of our faith determines the measure of blessing God will be able to pour upon our lives. Little faith, little blessing; more faith, more blessing; great faith, great blessing!
The centurion had great faith. Arriving home, he found his servant had been “healed at that very hour” - at the very time when the Lord had spoken the word of healing. Now look up Mark 11:22. Surely you will want to pray the prayer contained in Luke 17:5!