THE CENTURION


Christ had said to the nobleman whose son He healed, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” John 4:48.. He was grieved that His own nation should require these outward signs of His Messiahship.


Again and again He had marveled at their unbelief. But He marveled at the faith of the centurion who came to Him. The centurion did not question the Saviour’s power. He did not even ask Him to come in person to perform the miracle. “Speak the word only,” he said, “and my servant shal l be healed.”


The centurion’s servant had been stricken with palsy, and lay at the point of death. Among the Romans the servants were slaves, bought and sold in the market places, and treated with abuse and cruelty; but the centurion was tenderly attached to his servant, and greatly desired his recovery. He believed that Jesus could heal him.


He had not seen the Saviour, but the reports he heard had inspired him with faith. Notwithstanding the formalism of the Jews, this Roman was coiivinced that their religion was superior to his own. Already he had broken through the harriers of national prejudice and hatred that separated the conquerors from the conquered people. He had manifested respect for the service of God, and had shown kindness to the Jews as His worshipers . In the teaching of Christ, as it had been reported to him, he found that which met the need of the soul. All that was spiritual within him responded to the Saviour’s words . But he felt unworthy to come into the presence of Jesus, and he appealed to the Jewish elders to make request for the healing of his servant. They were acquainted with the Great Teacher, and would, he thought, know how to approach Him so as to win His favor.


As Jesus entered Capernaum, He was met by a delegation of the elders, who told Him of the centurion’s desire. They urged “that he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he bath built us a synagogue.”


Jesus immediately set out for the officer’s home; but, pressed by the multitude, He advanced slowly. The news of His coming preceded Him, and the centurion, in his self-distrust, sent Him the message, “Lord, trouble not Thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof.” But the Saviour kept on His way, and the centurion venturing at last to approach Him, completed the message, saying,

“Neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee;” “but speak the word only, and my servant shall he healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant Do this, and he doeth it.” As I represent the power of Rome, and my soldiers recognize my authority as supreme, so dost Thou represent the power of the Infinite God, and all created things obey Thy word. Thou canst command the disease to depart, and it shall obey Thee. Thou canst summon Thy heavenly messelIgers, and they shall impart healing virtue. Speak but the word, and my servant shall be healed.


“When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turuied Him about, and said unto the people that followed Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” And to the centurion He said, “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.”


The Jewish elders who recommended the centurion to Christ had shown how far they were from possessing the spirit of the gospel. They did not recognize that our great need is our only claim on God’s mercy In their self-righteousness they commended the centurion because of the favor he had shown to “our nation.” But the cemiturion said of him self, “I am not worthy.” His heart had been touched by the grace of Christ . He saw his own unworthiness; yet he feared not to ask help He trusted not to his own goodness; his argument was his great need. His faith took hold upon Christ in His true character. He did not believe in Him merely as a worker of miracles, but as the Friend and Saviour of mankind.


SOURCE:

The DESIRE of AGES.

Pacific Press Publishing Association

Mountain View, California



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