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12. Healing of the Centurion’s Servant

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A. Passage Selected: Luke 7:1-10

Also in Matt 8:5-13. Read both accounts and notice differences.

B. Progression Stated: Ideological or Biographical

The main idea is faith, but the miracle could also be outlined around the centurion.

C. Presentation Summarized:

There are differences in the gospel accounts of this miracle. Some think these are two different miracles. But I think they refer to the same miracle because:

  • They are both about a Centurion and his slave.
  • They both follow the Sermon on the Mount
  • They both follow the discourse on calling Jesus Lord, Lord and not doing what He says and building one’s house on the rock/sand.

    The main reason some think these are two different miracles is because Matthew says that the Centurion himself went to see Jesus. Luke says that the centurion sent subordinates. Did the centurion go himself or send others? It is passages like this that the critics hold up to show that the Bible is full of mistakes. It is the epitome of arrogance for a man to come along and say that the Bible is wrong. Through the years men have made many claims that the Bible is wrong. Then, archaeologists come along and prove that the Bible is right after all. One of my favorite examples is that for years critics denied the truth of Jonah, because Ninevah didn’t exist, but archaeologists discovered it about 100 years ago.

    So, we need to assume that the Bible is inerrant, and just ask, “For now, until I know all the facts, what possible explanation is there for this difference?”

    Who wrote Romans? Paul? or Tertius? Paul was the author but someone else wrote it for him. Good secretaries can write letters for their bosses that only need to be signed. Are the letters from the secretary or the boss? Nixon was not at the Watergate hotel. Why was he impeached? Because he was responsible.

    The answer to the differences between the two passages is -- The official was a man in authority and he sent representatives, but it is the same thing as him going as far as his faith is concerned. Matthew’s style is to give summations of the miracles. For his purposes, it was easier, but still accurate, to just say it was the centurion.

    1. Context 7:1

    Luke says, “When He had completed all His discourse…” In the preceding passage (Luk 6:46) Jesus has just asked them, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and then do not do what I say.” One issue that He is dealing with is not recognizing His authority. Now we will have a miracle in which a Gentile recognizes Jesus’ authority.

    2. Content 7:2-10
    a. The Testimony to the Centurion (2-3)

    The Centurion believes in Jesus’ power. He approaches Jesus through Jews. That was the proper way for a Gentile to come to God in OT economy. Here is a Gentile who really understands and recognizes Jesus for who he is.

    He also was very concerned for a servant and that was very untypical. His knowledge of God and love for God is shown by his love for his fellow man.

    He was a generous man and had built a synagogue so that he could worship the one true God with the Jews. He couldn’t go into the temple, since he was a Gentile.

    b. The Testimony of the Centurion (6-8)11

    (1) His humility

    The centurion, a man in authority is placing himself under the authority of Jesus. He feels he is not worthy. Again, we see the extraordinary godliness of this man. This is in stark contrast to the Jewish leaders who think that they are worthy of and deserving of God’s blessings. They are self-righteous. That is the hurdle that keeps them from experiencing the grace of God. This is the same point of Luke’s account of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.

    (2) His faith

    He knew the word of Christ and His authority were enough. This miracle is an illustration of the final statement in the sermon on the mount that the crowds were amazed that Jesus spoke with such authority (Mat 7:28-29). Most people didn’t do anything with that amazement. Here is one man who did. Perhaps he heard the sermon on the mount.

    He believed Christ’s words before He saw the works.

    c. The Testimony to the Nation of Israel (9-10)

    Jesus is amazed at the man’s faith. He doesn’t need to see the signs. This Gentile really does understand a lot, believes it and acts on it. This is an indictment against the Jewish nation which insists on seeing signs as proof and then still doesn’t believe even after they see the signs.

    Matthew includes Jesus’ comment about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob eating with Gentiles in the kingdom (Matt 8:11). Luke leaves this out because he is writing to a Gentile audience. There are a couple of things we can learn from this:

  • This requires a literal future millennium.
  • There is a warning. Some Jews won’t be there.

    See Weeping and gnashing of teeth discussion: Appendix B.


  • Commendation of the Centurion’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah who has authority over disease.
  • Condemnation of Israel for rejecting Messiah and they are in danger of losing their expected place in the kingdom of heaven. What gets you in and keeps you out? Accepting Jesus as the Messiah.
  • In Matt 8: there is a discussion about “the sons of the kingdom being thrown out into the outer darkness.” This is a figure of speech. They were not in and then thrown out. It is like being beat out of a job. You didn’t get the job and then lose it. You never got it. Who are the sons of the kingdom? They are Jews. This does not mean “Christians” or “believers.”
  • The centurion is a man with authority but also under authority, and he submits to the authority of Christ. That is what Jesus calls great faith. His underlying character trait is humility.
  • If you don’t have faith, then what is your problem? Pride. You think you can earn God’s approval on your own. Israel refused to subject itself to the Messiah. They were self-righteous.
  • Where is the healing? It is back at the house and almost not a part of the miracle story. It certainly doesn’t get center stage. The truth surrounding the miracles is overwhelming. The miracle is still important because it verifies the truth, but it is not what gets the emphasis. In our day, those who believe that tongues and healing are still happening put their emphasis on the tongues and miracles. Those who emphasize these gifts prove that they are not legitimate.
  • The man built their synagogue. This man knew and applied the OT scriptures and recognized the Messiah when he arrived.


  • Belief in the authority of God’s Word and the sovereignty of God brings results.
  • Don’t be critical of a man because of his job. You wouldn’t normally think that a Roman centurion would be a believer in the true God. Jews didn’t usually think too much of centurions, but here’s one with great faith.
  • True faith is demonstrated in a humble approach to God.
  • Rejection of God’s truth may bring replacement in God’s service. The Jews rejected Christ and were replaced - Rom 9-11.
  • A man is a good leader when he is a good follower. “I too am a man under authority...”
  • Jesus doesn’t have to be present for the healing to take place.

    11 This section outline is from Ryrie’s The Miracles of our Lord, p. 56-58.

  • Related Topics: Miracles