And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him,…
We pass at once from the miserable leper to the Roman officer. Both have faith in Christ, and in their faith they possess much in common. Yet the centurion has interesting traits of his own. Faith takes different forms according to the character and habit of mind of those in whom it shows itself. Something special is revealed in this soldier's faith.
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,