The centurion answered, "Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
I. IT IS INSPIRED BY KINDNESS OF HEART. The centurion seeks no favour for himself. He is troubled about his valet, his "boy." The distress of the poor lad so touches the master's heart that he goes out to seek for the Healer. We may have faith for the sake of others as well as for our own benefit. Kindness is a good preparation for faith. Selfishness is often cynical, and cynicism is always sceptical. We may learn faith in the school of love. As we feel kindly to others we shall discover how to trust in Christ, for we shall thus come to understand Christ by sharing the spirit that is in him.
II. IT IS TRIED BY HUMILITY. Christ belonged to the despised race of the subject Jews; the centurion was an officer in the proud army of the imperial government. It was difficult for a Roman not to despise a Jew. There must have been something very fine in the nature of this man to allow of his having emancipated himself from the prejudices of his caste, so as to be able to perceive the greatness of Christ and to feel lowly and bumble by the side of him. A low estimate of one's self helps one to look up to the greatness of Christ; at the same time,.it tries faith by creating a sense of utter unworthiness.
III. IT IS ENLIGHTENED BY EXPERIENCE. The centurion knew power. He exercised it on those beneath him; he felt it from those above him. The whole of the iron structure of the Roman empire was knit together by means of authority and absolute obedience. In this stern school the centurion had learnt lessons that enabled him to believe in the irresistible power of Christ's word of command. We can best understand religion if we interpret it in terms of our own experience. It will then take different forms from those of established usage. But it will not suffer on that account. On the contrary, it will become wonderfully fresh and vivid.
IV. IT IS LED TO SEE RIGHTFUL POWER. This is the special advantage of a Roman training. The Jew would look for legal fitness, the Greek for truth and beauty, the Roman for authority. Thus the man trained in the discipline of an imperial army is able to interpret to us an aspect of the character and life of our Lord which but for him we might have missed. It is important to recognize the authority of Christ, his command over nature, his power over man. He saves by his strong arm.
V. IT IS REWARDED WITH ADMIRING RECOGNITION. Here is a man of heathen birth showing greater faith than Jews possess. The New Testament always gives us favourable portraits of Roman centurions, and thus lets us see that there was good in the Gentile world. Christ was the first to recognize this. No eye was so keen for goodness in unexpected quarters as his. He is no respecter of persons. He is generous to recognize all hopeful signs. And when he recognizes them he responds. The lad is healed by a word from a distance - a most exceptional action. But the centurion's faith is exceptional, and the Divine blessing is always according to our faith. - W.F.A.
There came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him.
I. Look at this soldier's FAITH. It Was the faith of a man; no sign of weakness or effeminacy.
II. Look at this soldier's HUMILITY. It was the humility of a man; not mere subservience, which bends before title, wealth, and perhaps not before God. It is an elevating thing to bend before such a God as ours.
III. Look at this soldier's AFFECTION. Human affections not to be sneered at. These are the qualities of true manhood.
(A. G. Bowman, M. A.)
1. The duty of masters in relation to their servants.
2. The duty of making intercession on behalf of others at the throne of grace, and the encouragement given thereto.
3. The intimate connection between great faith and great humility.
(A. Peebles.)I. In the centurion we have AN INSTRUCTIVE EXAMPLE TO PETITIONERS.
1. His benevolence in applying to Christ on behalf of the sick servant. He had not been hardened by scenes of war. The prudence and diligence of the servant won his esteem. Providence compensates cruelty or attention towards servants; this sickness brought the centurion into contact with Our Lord.
2. The humility that declined the Saviour's offer — "I will come and heal him." What conscious power; prompt kindness; unwearied benevolence! The military spirit often haughty.
3. The faith that asked only a word from the Saviour's lips. He was convinced of Christ's supremacy.
II. In the Saviour we have AN EDIFYING PATTERN TO BENEFACTORS.
1. His admiration of the centurion's faith. Christ, who saw all the glory of the world — wealth, valour, culture — admires faith more than all.
2. Christ's warning to the Jewish nation — "Many shall come," etc. (ver. 11).
3. The miracle of healing on the servant.
(J. Bennett, D. D.)I. IN ALL THE SICK THE HIGHEST HONOUR GIVEN TO A DYING SLAVE.
1. He is honoured by his master because he is faithful and obedient. Also because he was probably a believer in the God of Israel. How anxious ought we to be for the spiritual good of our friends, if centurion so anxious for bodily healing.
2. The whole city is moved on behalf of this poor, dying stranger; it is this which exalts his case above all the other sick in the gospel narratives.
3. The Lord Himself honours this dying stranger, saying, "I will come and heal him." Jesus had a hard day's work, and might have spared Himself this visit to the sick bed.
II. THE DEEPEST HUMILITY HID IN THE HEART OF A ROMAN COMMANDER.
1. The centurion is the only example of a man who thought himself unworthy to come to Christ, to speak to Jesus personally. How unworthy are we to address God!
2. He is the only man who thinks his house unworthy of Christ. Probably he had a good official residence.
III. THE STRONGEST FAITH FOUND IN A GENTILE SOLDIER. The strength of his faith is connected with the depth of his humility; faith the root of every grace.
1. His faith discerns in the Son of Mary the unseen arm of the Lord.
2. His faith so discerns Christ as to make his own unworthiness no barrier to Christ's work.
(A. M. Stuart.)I. WHAT DISEASE IS; WHAT PLACE IT HOLDS WITH REFERENCE TO THE OFFICE AND WORK OF THE REDEEMER. An important place from the numerous cases of cure. Disease is the beginning of death. Christ came to abolish death; by healing confirmed His mission. He showed the great restoration He came to effect in our whole nature.
1. The Son of Man came to save men's lives, not to destroy them.
2. The importance of these our bodies in the great process of redemption. Modern religion too spiritual: must better the body by civilization and art, as well as soul.
II. THE TYPICAL IMPORT OF THESE HEALING MIRACLES.
1. A type of man's great disease — sin.
2. The great command which Christ has over all diseases, as His servants, going and coming at His word.
(H. Alford, D. D.)
1. His faith must have been a thing of gradual growth, and it must have grown under no ordinary conditions. He was a heathen. Many a man in his position would have looked at the religion around him with lack of sympathy. But he had come to see that though the Romans were better than the Jews in courage, the Jews were in possession of a higher faith. One step leads to another. He took interest in the religion of Israel: then led to notice the fame of Jesus. No help came to him from the memories of youth. When adverse circumstances do not kill faith, they brace it.
2. His faith was marked by thoroughness. .No flaws in it at a critical hour.
3. His faith was characterized by humility. Alive to the awful majesty of God.The question has been asked, Why should such a disposition and effort as faith have this power?
1. One reason of the religious power of faith is that it implies knowledge of facts of the highest importance to man.
2. It is a test or criterion of the predominant disposition of the soul or character. The believer has moral affinities with the revelation. The habit of insincerity is fatal to faith.
3. The third reason for the religious power of faith is its leverage. It sets the soul in motion, it embodies the element of will. Here a caution is necessary. Faith does not create, but apprehends its object. The healing power of Jesus is not dependent upon the centurion's faith, although exerted as a token of approval of it. Let us pray for the faith of the centurion, persevering, thorough, humble.
(Canon Liddon.)I. THAT HE ATTAINED IT UNDER UNFAVOURABLE CIRCUMSTANCES.
II. THAT HIS APPLICATION WAS MADE, NOT FOR HIMSELF, BUT FOR HIS SERVANT. His faith was thus adorned by fervent charity. We should intercede for others.
III. THAT HE DOES NOT IN WORDS ASK ANYTHING. He merely stated to Jesus the fact that his servant was ill. His faith deemed this enough to ensure relief from Christ. Jesus says, "I will come and heal him." In these words He expresses His own gracious method in dealing with mankind.
IV. THAT IT WAS TEMPERED WITH HUMILITY. A false faith known by its pride.
V. How HE USES HIS OWN REASON FOR HELP IN ESTABLISHING THIS EXCELLENT FAITH. "For I am a man under authority," etc. To us the word only is spoken. We must be healed through the influence of the written Word, if healed at all. This is the condition of our trial. Some want sensible proof of the truths of religion.
(C. Girdlestone, M. A.)
I. OBSERVE HOW THIS PROPOSAL WAS CALCULATED TO TRY THE EARNESTNESS OF HIS FAITH. HOW far we really believe may be gathered from the fruits of our faith. Let us thus test our belief in Providence, revelation, the assistance of Divine grace, of the resurrection of the body. What portion have we by real faith in these? To the centurion Christ's words were words of comfort; to his servant, of healing. Are they to us? He was justified in the profession of his faith.
II. HENCE WE MAY ACCOUNT FOR THE SLIGHT DEGREE IN WHICH WE AT PRESENT DERIVE BENEFITS FROM THE PRIVILEGES OF THE GOSPEL. It is only by believing more heartily that we can be healed more fully.
III. FROM THESE WORDS WE MAY FORM A JUST APPREHENSION ALSO OF OUR FUTURE SENTENCE. Then it will be said, "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." We are graciously justified by faith.
(C. Girdlestone, M. A.)I. THE PERFECT READINESS OF CHRIST.
II. THE CONSCIOUS ABILITY OF CHRIST.
III. THE ABIDING METHOD OF CHRIST. He spake and it was done.
1. This coming back to the original form of working in creation.
2. This method suits true humility.
3. It pleases great faith.
4. It is perfectly reasonable.
5. It is sure to succeed.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. As AN ANSWER TO PRAYER.
1. Whose prayer was it that was here answered? A heathen's.
2. What was the prayer that was here answered'? Not personal, but relative, for another.
3. When was this prayer answered — immediately?
II. As AN INSTANCE OF CONDESCENSION.
III. As A DISPLAY OF POWER.
IV. AS AN EMBLEM OF HIS GRACE.
(W. Jay.)1. The care of this centurion for his servant was commendable.
2. A beautiful instance of the conquest over prejudice. When prejudice shall be universally overcome, Turks and Hindoos will build Christian temples, and bigots of every sect will unite in seeking the Saviour's mercy for the wretched of our race.
3. An example of great humility. His situation was calculated to foster pride.
4. The power of grace to overcome all the obstacles of rank and condition.
5. His faith.
(W. H. Lewis.)
(R. Newton, D. D.)
I. WHAT COMPOSED THE GREATNESS OF HIS FAITH?
1. With few advantages the centurion had gone far in advance of the age.
2. Seizing the first opportunity with personal exertion, and on a loving purpose, he came to Christ.
3. Arrived in His presence, he was earnest, simple, devout.
4. At Christ's favour to him his faith rose higher, and his heart went lower.
II. How DID THAT FAITH COME? By the ways you cannot see — a grace — a creation. What makes faith grow larger?
1. Look into the constitution of faith. First, it is a clear understanding of the truth; secondly, it is a converting of the abstract truth into a thing real in the mind; thirdly, it is an appropriation, a making your own the truth understood. To increase faith these three points must he cultivated.
1. Keep pure the affections; avoid sin. Faith grows by its own actings.
2. He who would enlarge faith must feed upon promises.
3. To have found Christ as a Saviour gives faith its best impulse.
4. The measurement of everything to a Christian is the falling and rising of his faith.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)It is evident that our religious attainments may not be equal to our opportunities of spiritual growth, and that we may be surpassed in moral excellence by those who have not enjoyed our mercies.
I. OUR ADVANTAGES AS THE PROFESSED DISCIPLES OF CHRIST. "In Judah is God known; His Name is great in Israel." Our advantages may be considered as great.
1. In our birth and education.
2. That we have the inspired volume in our own language.
3. The ordinances of the Lord are with us.
4. That we enjoy religious liberty.
II. CONSIDER THE ATTAINMENTS IN THE WAYS OF GOD. "What do we more than others?"
1. Encouragement. If we have a little faith, it is a great mercy.
2. Reproof. Have we not loitered in the ways of God?
3. Instruction. Learn to do better.
I. THAT THERE WAS SUCH FAITH FOUND IN SUCH A PERSON. Did not expect to find it in a Gentile — a Roman — a soldier, etc. The most astonishing and acceptable faith may be exercised by the most unlikely persons.
II. THE SUBJECT OF THE CENTURION'S CONFIDENCE — his servant struck with the palsy. His was a faith which took an impossibility into its hand and threw it aside, etc. There is no sin too black for His blood to wash out the stain.
III. THE REALIZING ENERGY OF THIS MAN'S FAITH which led him to deal with the case in such a business-like way. So should we.
IV. HE DID NOT ASK FOR A SIGN. Some want to feel "strong convictions," "extraordinary sensations," etc. We must accept the bare word of God in Christ Jesus as the basis of faith, for no other foundation is to be depended on for a moment.
V. His CONVICTION THAT CHRIST COULD CURE HIS SERVANT AT ONCE. Usually, successful combat with disease requires time. Pardon, a present blessing — not the result of weeks of fasting, etc.
VI. His DEEP HUMILITY, which instead of weakening his faith only strengthened it. How often the sense of unworthiness keeps from Christ — "I cannot believe, I am so great a sinner," etc. The simplicity of faith often makes it difficult.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. GREAT IN ITSELF. The centurion believed —
1. That Christ had absolute power over disease.
2. That He could heal his servant at a distance.
3. By His word.
II. GREAT AS COMPARED WITH THAT OF THE JEWS. They were favoured with many aids to faith, while the centurion had many obstacles, etc.; yet the faith of the latter far transcended that of the former. In this we have —
1. Warning for privileged people.
2. Encouragement for those who labour under disadvantages.
III. JOINED WITH GREAT HUMILITY. "Humility is both the fruit of faith and the companion of faith; an humble soul has a high esteem of Christ, and a low esteem of himself." The faith of the centurion was —
IV. GLORIOUSLY REWARDED.
1. His servant was healed.
2. He himself was received as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
1. He was a good neighbour.
2. He was a kind master.
I. Look at the CENTURION'S ADDRESS to the Saviour.
1. His humility. What words for a proud Roman to address to a poor Jew.
2. His faith. It took its colour from his soldier-life.
II. The SAVIOUR'S COMMENT on the conduct of this noble-minded soldier, and reflection to which it leads.
1. He announces, in connection with this remarkable display of faith, the inbringing of the Gentile nations. The Roman soldier was the earnest-sheaf of u mighty harvest yet to he reaped in heathen lands, o. That in every profession and occupation of life a man may serve God. His military habits fed his faith.
3. Great faith is fostered in the midst of difficulties.
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.).1. The value of faith.
2. The value of intercession.
3. The value of Christ's intercession.
(T. R. Stevenson.)
1. But this humility, if really what it ought to be, should lead us directly to the performance of this sacred duty. Our humility should take the form of that in our text. The communicant can't be worthy as far as real worthiness is concerned.
2. But it is at this point that our humility should he met, limited, and directed by our faith. The centurion's sense of unworthiness did not turn him aside from duty, from beseeching our Lord to help him; it delicately gave greater force to his request.
3. Our humility, if sincere, will issue in our greater confidence in God's mercy.
(J. Puckle, M. A.)
(T. R. Stevenson.)
I. was reviewing his troops in Paris, he let fall the reins of his horse upon the animal's neck, when the proud charger galloped away. Before the rider could recover the bridle, a common soldier ran out from the ranks, caught the reins, stopped the horse, and placed the bridle again in the hands of the Emperor. "Much obliged to you, captain," said Napoleon. The man immediately believed the chief and said, 'Of what regiment, sir? Napoleon, delighted with his quick perception and manly trust in his word, replied, "Of my guards," and rode away, As soon as the Emperor left the soldier laid down his gun, saying, "He may take it who will," and started for the Company of Staff Officers... and so the soldier came duly to his post as Captain of Napoleon's Guard.
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