A Centurion’s Faith (Mt. 8:5-13 & Lk. 7:1-10)
What do you notice different between these two texts? Is it OK for scripture to say two different things? Does two different accounts mean that one author was wrong? We know that the Bible is without errors because it is the inspired work of God and God is perfect, so how could we justify the differences?
First, by knowing the differences between the two authors. Matthew has a tendency to condense and second, to write topically rather than chronologically. Therefore, we could say that Matthew left out the middlemen in this this story in order to condense it and to magnify the main point of the passage that even gentiles can come to Jesus. That race does not matter to Jesus. This passage shows us that racial differences should not be an obstacle, since Jews intercede for a Gentile here and Jesus responds to the quest.
Here once again, as we have seen in previous passages that although our natural inclination is to look at the miraculous wonders of Jesus, the main point is less concerned with the miracle and more concerned with the faith of the man who requests Jesus’ aid. Therefore, the story is more a pronouncement on commendable faith than it is concerned with Jesus’ power.
So remember this is the story right after the sermon on the mount, so what God is doing here is showing us what it looks like for a man to build his house on the rock, and how that man responds to Jesus with concrete faith. What is faith? Faith in this passage is defined as a plea to Jesus to offer his aid in the form of his power, even though one is unworthy to receive it. (Bock, 1994)
Jesus is a picture of power, a man in authority- authority that the centurion understands and describes in Matthew 8 verses 8 and 9. In verses 8 and 9 of Matthew, we see that the Centurion knows the power of God. He knows that although he is just a man, he can make things happen across the Roman Empire just by his words. How much more could Jesus heal someone, without having to be physically present? This passage reveals to us that Jesus needed neither ritual, magic, nor any other help; his authority was God’s authority, and His word was effective because it was God’s word. Just how the centurion’s commands were effective, because his words were under Caesar’s authority, so are Jesus’ command because they carry the authority of God. (Carson, 1995)
In conclusion, we see that the healing of the centurion’s slave foreshadows the expansion of Jesus’ ministry to the nations. The Centurion senses that he is unworthy of receiving Jesus’ help. Jesus commends his insight as unique and offers the faith of this foreign soldier as an example to all. His combination of humility, dependent request, and trusting awareness of God’s power is the essence of faith. (Bock, 1994)