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When we come to Jesus as little children in humility and complete dependence, we see the simplicity of trusting Him to deliver us. Here you have a very powerful man who understood authority and submission as well as his own sinfulness in the presence of a holy God. He knew his own unworthiness and yet he also had confidence in the love and compassion of Jesus. So he reached out to make this plea for salvation on behalf of his dying and beloved slave. His great faith was commended by Jesus because He did not even require Jesus to be physically present to still believe that His Word alone was powerful enough to effect the required miracle of healing.

This passage offers up a series of 3 Testimonies to important spiritual realities that relate both to this physical healing as well as to our spiritual salvation.


“When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.”


A. (:2-3) The Worthiness of the Dying Slave Motivates the Petition for Healing

1. (:2) The Plight of the Worthy Slave

“And a certain centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die.”

Matthew’s gospel categorizes the disease as paralysis.

Lenski: In times of peace the Romans quartered no troops in Capernaum. This officer was in the pay of Herod Antipas, whose troops were made up of foreigners of various nationalities. In the narrative, too, this man appears as a Gentile. A centurion commanded a hundred men or less.

Tremendous faith to have the expectation of healing when the person was at the point of death.

2. (:3) The Petition to Heal the Slave

“And when he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave.”

  • Great love evidenced by the centurion

MacArthur: Now normally the Jewish elders wouldn’t respond to a request by a Roman soldier of the conquering army, the occupation army. But these elders are asked to be his representatives, his intercessors, his advocates, his intermediaries to go to Jesus because the soldier doesn’t feel worthy. So he knows more about Jesus than that Jesus is a healer. He knows himself to be a sinner and he has received the information that Jesus is not and therefore it is that sense of shame and unworthiness that restrains him from going himself.

B. (:4-5) The Worthiness of the Centurion Commended to Jesus as the Basis for Granting the Petition

1. (:4) Rationale for Granting the Request = Worthiness of the Centurion

“And when they had come to Jesus, they earnestly entreated Him, saying, ‘He is worthy for You to grant this to him;’”

2. (:5) Reasons Supporting This Rationale – 2 mentioned specifically

a. (:5a) Favorable Disposition Towards the Jewish Nation

“for he loves our nation,”

b. (:5b) Facilitation of Jewish Worship by Building Their Synagogue

“and it was he who built us our synagogue.”

  • Great Generosity evidenced by the centurion

Application: What Do Others Testify About You?


A. (:6-7) Recognition of the Power and Authority of Jesus

1. (:6-7a) Centurion Testifies to His Own Unworthiness Compared to Jesus

“Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, ‘Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You,’”

  • Great Humility evidenced by the centurion

Donald Miller: Humility and a sense of unworthiness led him to send friends to Jesus to tell him that he need not bother coming to his house. If Jesus would only speak the word of healing, his servant would recover.

MacArthur: Now some have suggested he didn’t want Jesus to come into his house because he knew Jewish prohibition because they had a prohibition about ever going into a Gentile house. You can read about that in Acts 10, Acts 11. That wasn’t it. This is not some kind of ceremonial issue with him. This is personal. There was just an overwhelming sense of shame. He was a true penitent. He was truly a broken and a contrite heart whom the Lord will not despise. He had a beatitude attitude.

Steven Cole: These accounts can be harmonized by recognizing that Matthew and Luke had different purposes in writing. Matthew wrote primarily for a Jewish audience, to explain why the Jews rejected the gospel and why it was open to the Gentiles. To make his point, as he often does, Matthew condenses the narrative. It would be extraneous to his purpose to go into the detail about the centurion approaching Jesus through messengers. Besides, it is true to say that what a man does through his agents, he does himself. We see this in the story itself: “he built our synagogue” (7:5). They do not mean that he personally did the work, but rather that he built it through workers. Thus Matthew eliminates unnecessary details to show that this Gentile centurion had faith in Jesus.

But Luke’s purpose was different. He was writing to a Gentile audience, most of whom had not seen Jesus. For him, the greater detail about this centurion who believed in Jesus, although he did not see Him, was quite to the point, so he included it. The two accounts do not contradict each other.

2. (:7b) Centurion Recognizes the Power and Authority of Jesus to Speak a Miracle Without Even Being Present

“but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

  • Great Faith evidenced by the centurion

Lenski: Others thought that Jesus would have to touch the sufferers before he could heal them, but this man was sure that Jesus needs to speak only “a word.”

Steven Cole: How do we grow in humility? True humility stems from seeing my insufficiency and Christ’s all-sufficiency. The centurion’s servant was about to die (7:2). He was helpless to deal with this irreversible illness and imminent death. What a picture of the human race, impotent to deal with the ravages of sin and its ultimate result, spiritual death! The centurion saw his own insufficiency to deal with the problem, but he also saw Christ’s all-sufficiency.

B. (:8) Appreciation of the Response to Authority

1. Experience Personally With Authority

“For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me;”

  • Great Submission evidenced by the centurion

2. Efficacious Nature of Authority – It Commands Instant Obedience

“and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes;

and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes;

and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

Lenski: The argument is from the less to the greater. If even a man who is under authority is instantly obeyed by those under him, how much more will Jesus be obeyed, who has all powers and all agencies under his command!

Application: What Do You Testify About Jesus?


A. (:9) Jesus Proclaims the Special Greatness of This Gentile’s Faith

“Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.’”

What type of man amazes Jesus?

MacArthur: Wouldn’t I like to be a man who amazed Jesus, whose love, whose generosity, whose mercy, whose devotion, whose love of the truth, whose love of the people of God, whose love of God, whose humility, whose penitence and whose great faith and whose submission to the power and authority of Christ would amaze Him. You don’t want to settle for anything less.

Morris: Twice only is Jesus recorded as marveling at people, here on account of faith and in Nazareth because of unbelief (Mk. 6:6).

Lenski: Only twice did Jesus praise faith as being great, here and in the case of the Canaanite woman. This makes his doing so the more noteworthy.

B. (:10) Jesus Performs the Healing

“And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.”

Application: What Does Jesus Testify About You?