And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him,…
Use the introduction to advert to the apparent discrepancy between the account of St. Matthew and that of St. Luke, in that the latter informs us that it was by messengers and not by himself that the centurion's appeal to Christ was made. Plausible as the objection may justly be allowed to appear, one fact is sufficient to silence it, namely, that the apparent inconsistence appears quite sufficiently in the one selfsame account of St. Luke. Notice, for instance, and compare vers. 8-10 there. Also allude to the favour-able circumstances in which three other centurions are brought before our notice in Christian history, e.g. Matthew 27:54; Acts 10:1; Acts 27:3, 43; Acts 28:16. Notice -
I. THE CHARACTER THIS CENTURION HAD ACQUIRED, AND, THOUGH AN OUTSIDER, THE ESTEEM IN WHICH HE WAS HELD. Nor is the secret of this far to find.
1. He had a large heart and a sympathetic. He loved the nation of the Jews, and had built them a synagogue, no doubt because of the higher good he had gained from them. He had reaped their spiritual things, he had given his carnal things.
2. He loved his servant, and evidently was taking great pains, not felt as such, now to get help for him, as much as though he had been a son or a brother.
II. THE CORRECT AND HIGHLY ENLIGHTENED ESTIMATE THAT HE HAD ALREADY EVIDENTLY FIRMLY PLANTED WITHIN HIM OF THE CHARACTER AND THE JUST DIGNITY OF CHRIST. Whence, it may naturally be asked, did this come?
1. From the fact that he used aright his reason, upon his observation; i.e. upon the induction of things seen and heard by him, of Christ. Of how many things higher and deeper than those of which the apostle first used the question may not the same words be used, "Doth not even nature teach you?" And in what harmony with this do we find the argument of St. Paul in Romans 1., when he says, summing it up, "So that they are without excuse"!
2. How well it may be believed that the centurion was among the instances of those illuminated by that Spirit who was always omnipresent, and who as at this time worked often where least supposed! We are reminded of the illustration used by our Lord himself preceding the sentence, "So is every one that is born of the Spirit."
III. THE GENUINE HUMILITY WHICH PENETRATED HIM.
1. He genuinely pleads deep sense of his own unworthiness as the reason why he did not come in person to Jesus.
2. He with every witness of genuineness pleads the same as the ground of deprecating Jesus coming in person to him. It would appear from the account of St. Luke that the centurion in the first instance did ask Jesus "to come and heal his servant." But second thoughts, and the awe of the imminent advent of the great Sovereign of bodies and souls changed his prayer, took away the last remnant of mere human boldness, and superseded it by diviner humility.
IV. THE FAITH, SO SIMPLY CONSTRUCTED AND SO PERFECT, FROM THE FIRST AND IN ALL DETAIL, OF THE CENTURION. This was the "marvel" for Christ. It is "great" faith; it is "so great faith;" it is greater faith than the greatest Jesus had as yet "found in Israel" even, and this not in Israel! In conclusion, dwell on all the sweet, condescending grace of Jesus. "I will come and heal him;" "and he went with them;" "he marvelled at him;" and he praised his faith "to the people that followed him;" and "they who were sent returning to the house found the servant whole." What a parable in drama of the great grace of Jesus Christ! - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,