And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him,…
We take this to be the centurion also mentioned by Luke (7.). The points of agreement in the narratives are too remarkable and too numerous to be taken to apply to separate persons. The narratives are harmonized upon the principle of personation common in the sacred writings (see e.g. 2 Samuel 1:15 compared with 2 Samuel 4:10, and Acts 9:23, 24 with 2 Corinthians 11:32). Let us consider the centurion's faith and its reward.
I. HIS FAITH,
1. It was reverent and humble.
(1) He did not presume to come to Jesus in person. According to Luke, he approached him through the elders of the Jews. He thus forestalled the objection that he was a stranger.
(2) He had enlightened views of the majesty of Jesus. For, though Jesus had appeared in humiliation amongst. men, this Roman said (still by representation), "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof." Note: We should value and venerate what we can see of Christ in the humbled saint. Had we juster views of the majesty of Jesus we should have humbler views of ourselves. We judge by contrasts.
(3) There are some whose reverence would not restrain them from touching the Lord (see Matthew 9:18-20). The same inward feelings may be variously displayed.
(4) A sense of unworthiness is a sign of worth. He that is furthest from self is nearest to the Lord. This centurion, as Augustine says, while owning himself unworthy that the Lord should, enter his house, was accounted worthy that that Lord should enter his heart. Though corporeally distant, the centurion was through faith enabled to converse in spirit with Jesus.
2. It was strong, and earnest.
(1) He came with entreaty. "Beseeching him." The earnestness of entreaty is a sign of faith; for it grows out of the conviction of the ability of the person supplicated to grant the petition.
(2) So strong was the faith of this centurion that it saw no need for the presence of the Miracle-worker. It recognized the omnipresence of Omnipotence. This faith is the more remarkable since up to this time no example of a miracle wrought by Jesus at a distance is on record.
(3) The centurion's apprehension of the Divinity of Christ is also recognized in his argument. It proceeded upon the principle that the forces of nature were absolutely under the control of Jesus. The obedience of the soldiers and servants of the centurion were rendered to one under the authority of superiors; but Jesus was absolute Ruler in nature.
3. It was large and generous.
(1) It was exercised on behalf of his servant. Many came to Christ on behalf of their children; this is the only example we have of one so interested in a servant. Many, like the Amalekite, forsake their servants when they are forsaken by health (1 Samuel 30:13). The good master studies the welfare of his servants.
(2) The centurion was touched by the suffering of his servant. Great agony is experienced in palsy when it passes into apoplexy. Faith is nourished in the sympathies of goodness.
(3) The elders who represented the centurion's case to Jesus were moved by admiration of his nobleness. They pleaded, "He is worthy; for he loveth our nation, and hath built us a synagogue." Faith is strong in the heart of the generous.
II. ITS REWARD.
1. It gained for him his suit.
(1) Before the elders had fully opened the case, Jesus said, "I will come and heal him." His coming is healing. "Unto you that fear my Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings."
(2) Before the elders returned to communicate the answer, the centurion had the answer in his house. "His servant was healed in that hour." "Before you call, I will answer; and while you are yet speaking, I will hear."
(3) The centurion gained more than his suit. He received healing also in his own soul. "As thou hast believed, so shall it be done unto thee. In blessing we are blessed.
2. He had the highest commendation.
(1) Jesus marvelled at the greatness of his faith. For he was a Roman. Conversely, Jesus marvelled at the unbelief of certain Jews (see Mark 6:6). All circumstances are surveyed in the judgments of Jesus.
(2) His faith was honoured with the promise of the kingdom. The Gentile by faith becomes the child of the covenant. Shall sit down with Abraham," etc. (cf. Genesis 12:3; Genesis 17:4; Galatians 3:7, 9, 14, 29).
(3) This means the friendship of the King. Sitting with Abraham, etc., is enjoying the company of the aristocracy of virtue. Reclining with Abraham, etc., viz. on the bosom of the King. That last supper at which the disciples reclined on the bosom of Jesus was the anticipation of a fulfilment in the kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 26:29; Luke 14:15; Luke 22:15, 16, 29, 30).
(4) Jesus handsomely commends his friends (see Matthew 11:6; Matthew 15:28; Matthew 25:34-36; Matthew 26:10; Luke 7:44; Luke 21:3).
3. He was made a specimen of the conversion of the Gentiles.
(1) "And I say unto you [Jews], That many shall come from the east," etc. By faith the Gentiles shall cuter the kingdom of grace. By faith also shall they enter the kingdom of glory.
(2) To the Jews Jesus came in person; to the Gentiles he sends his healing Word. "Only say the word." Grace triumphs in unlikely places. So in unlikely persons. A devout soldier! No man's calling can excuse his unbelief.
4. The reception of faithful Gentiles is condemnation to unfaithful Jews.
(1) Jesus had not found such faith, no, not in Israel. He sought faith. He seeks it still.
(2) He sought it first among the children of the kingdom. The gospel as well as the Law came first to the Jews (see Romans 9:4). Privileges bring responsibilities. So the last become first by their faith. The first become last through their unbelief.
(3) How fearful is the condition of the rejected! Shut out from the light of the banquet of glory. In the cold and hunger of an endless night. The weeping. The gnashing of teeth. No such sorrow and misery as those of the lost. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,