Jesus and the Centurion (Lost Sheep Series)

Jul 28, 2015 | Uncategorized

By Mari Kaimo, co-host, The 700 Club Asia

Did Jesus come only for the lost sheep of Israel?

Let us continue with more proof that Muslims ignore the context of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 15 to support their claim for the universal prophethood of their leader, Muhammad.

In all four Gospels, Jesus complements only two people for their great faith. Both of them were Gentiles. The story of one of these exemplars of faith is found in Matthew 8, where we read about a Roman Centurion who has come humbly to Jesus to seek His help:

5 When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,

6 “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!”

Centurion and Servant

7 “I will come and heal him,” He told him.

8 “Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured.

9 For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. 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.”

10 Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith!

11 I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

12 But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus and a Centurion Cropped

13 Then Jesus told the centurion, “Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you.” And his servant was cured that very moment.

The man’s declaration of faith that Jesus could heal his servant was not just surprising coming from a Gentile, but Jesus even calls it extraordinary faith. And with good reason. The man understood that Jesus’ power was such that His Presence was not even required for the healing to take place.

Somehow he knew that Jesus would not have to touch the man, or even be in the same room with him. The Roman knew that all Jesus had to do was speak the word, and his servant would be healed.

Read those words again slowly: he knew that Jesus had only to speak a word, and his servant would be well again. Only One has that kind of power over disease, the very same One Who could walk on water and calm the storm again, simply by speaking it into stillness.

In his commentary on this passage, Bible scholar John Gill writes that Jesus’ response to the man…
“… is a clear proof of our Lord’s divinity: for had he not been truly God, he would have rebuked, and not have commended this man’s faith in him: who ascribed that power to him, which is peculiar to God…”
Note as well that Jesus was fully aware that the man was a Gentile and that, therefore, Jesus would be making Himself ritually unclean by entering the man’s home, yet the Lord was untroubled by this. To make things even worse in the eyes of legalists like the Pharisees, the centurion was a Gentile who was an officer in the military force that had been oppressing the Jewish nation for almost a century (and who would continue to do so for another 300 years). And yet Jesus had no qualms about coming to his aid.

So why didn’t Jesus tell this man, “I was sent only to the Lost Sheep of Israel?”

As we have shown in our two previous posts, Jesus came for all mankind: to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. But Jesus had a knack for turning what might have been ordinary events in His life into moments which would teach generations of His followers not just Who He was, but who we can be when we are around Him. And that was wonderfully demonstrated by the centurion who showed us humility, great love and compassion for others and, most importantly, God-honoring faith.

But our lesson doesn’t end there.

After commending the centurion’s great faith, Jesus delivered a stinging rebuke to His Lost Sheep, lamenting the fact that no one in Israel — in short, no Jew — had shown greater faith than this Gentile. The Christ then went on to address the Muslim contention head on as He said:

11 I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus announced quite clearly that many would come from outside of Israel, outside of the Lost Sheep, people from among the Gentiles who would join the Jewish patriarchs in heaven, while some from among the Jews would be cast out of the Kingdom because of their lack of faith.

So does God play favorites and save only Jews?

Absolutely not. He sent us Jesus to demonstrate that He came to save all who will believe in Him.

Jesus had this to say to some hard-hearted Jews He was speaking with:

24 “Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8

What about you, dear reader? Do you believe that Jesus is Who He says He is?

Jesus is Lord!

Help us REFRESH others with the life-giving Word of God today!

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