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LIFE OF CHRIST
A Harmony of the Gospels

LESSON NINE

   

THE  CENTURION'S  SERVANT  HEALED

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Matthew 8:5-13
(5)  Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum,
a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,  (6)  saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."
(7)  And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."
(8)  The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.  (9)  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
(10)  When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!  (11)  And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  (12)  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."  (13) 
Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.
NKJV
LUKE 7:1-10
(1)  Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. 
(2)  And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die.  (3)  So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant.  (4)  And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving,  (5)  "for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue."
(6)  Then Jesus went with them. 
And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.  (7)  Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. (8)  For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
(9)  When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" 
(10)  And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.
NKJV

Matthew's condensed report does not contradict Luke's fuller account.
In Matthew, he is represented as coming to Christ himself; but it is a usual form of speech in all nations, to attribute the act to a person which is done not by himself, but by his authority.

Centurion
A Roman military officer who had the command of 100 men.
Judea was a Roman province, and garrisons were kept there to preserve the people in subjection. This man was probably by birth a pagan.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

He was a Gentile, a Roman, an officer of the army;  probably commander-in-chief of that part of the Roman army which was quartered at Capernaum, and kept garrison there.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

He has built a synagogue
It was no unusual thing for one Jewish man to build a synagogue at his own expense.
If,  as in this case,  a Gentile built the sacred edifice,  the Jews had no scruples in receiving the gift,  even if he did not become a proselyte,  as some suppose this centurion to have been.  They held that the holiness of the place consisted,  not so much in the building,  as in its being set apart and dedicated to holy uses.

It would seem that everything about this man would prevent him from coming to Jesus.

He was a professional soldier Jesus was a Man of peace
He was a Gentile Jesus was a Jew

This centurion understood that Jesus, like himself, was under authority (John 8:28  I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me).
All Christ had to do was speak the word and the disease would obey Him the way a soldier obeyed his officer.
It is worth noting that only those who are under authority have the right to exercise authority.

Twice in the Gospels it is recorded that Jesus marveled:

Matt 8:10 At the great faith of the Gentile centurion
Mark 6:6 At the great unbelief of the Jews

Matthew recorded two "Gentile" miracles:

Matt 8:5-13 Healing the Roman Centurion's Servant
Matt 15:21-28 Healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman

In both "Gentile" miracles:

Jesus was impressed with their great faith
Jesus healed from a distance

This was a reminder of the spiritual position of the Gentiles "afar off' at that time (Eph 2:12).
It was also an early indication that the Jews would not believe, but the Gentiles would.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright (c) 1989 by SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.)

That he could cure him with a word,  not send him a medicine,  much less a charm;  but speak the word only,  and I do not question but my servant shall be healed.  Herein he owns him to have a divine power,  an authority to command all the creatures and powers of nature,  which enables him to do whatsoever he pleases in the kingdom of nature;  as at first he raised that kingdom by an almighty word,  when he said,  Let there be light.  With men, saying and doing are two things;  but not so with Christ,  who is therefore the Arm of the Lord, because He is the eternal Word.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Cast out into outer darkness
As the enjoyment of that salvation that Jesus calls the kingdom of heaven is here represented under the notion of a nuptial festival,  at which the guests sat down in a reclining posture,  with the master of the feast;  so the state of those who were excluded from the banquet is represented as Deep Darkness;  because the nuptial solemnities took place at night. 
Hence,  at those suppers,  the house of reception was filled with lights called torches,  lamps,  candles,  and lanterns so that;

They were admitted to the banquet had the benefit of the LIGHT
They that were  “shut out were in DARKNESS

The darkness called here “outer darkness,” i.e. the darkness on the outside of the house in which the guests were; which must appear more abundantly gloomy,  when compared with the profusion of  light within the guest-chamber. And because they who were shut out were not only exposed to shame,  but also to hunger and cold;  therefore it is added,  “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
How many of those who are called  “Christians”  suffer the kingdom,  the graces,  and the salvation that they had in their hands,  to be lost.  An ETERNITY of darkness,  fears,  and pains,  for comparatively a moment of sensual gratification - how terrible the thought!

RAISING  THE  WIDOW'S  SON  AT   NAIN

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Luke 7:11-17
(11)   Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.  (12)  And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.  (13)  When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."  (14)  Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."  (15)  So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
(16)  Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying,  "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and,  "God has visited His people."  (17)  And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.
NKJV

Nain
A small city of Galilee, in the tribe of Issachar.  According to Eusebius,  it was two miles from Mount Tabor, southward;  and near to Endor.
The situation is beautiful, on the northwest slope of the Hill of Moreh, known as Little Hermon. Eastward are ancient rock-hewn tombs. The view is wide, across plains northwest to Mt. Carmel, north to the hills behind Nazareth, six miles away, northeast past Mt. Tabor to the snowy heights of Mt. Hermon, and south is Mt. Gilboa.

A dead man carried out
It was customary, and still is, to bury the dead outside the limits of the limits of the city. Gentile nations as well as Jewish observed this usage.  Rare exceptions were sometimes made in the case of royal personages.

It was usual for all who knew the deceased to accompany the body to the grave. There were several relays of men to take turns in carrying the bier. This was considered a privilege. Thus we are told that  “much people of the city was with” the bereaved mother.

He had compassion

Compassion moves - one cannot be truly compassionate without being moved by compassion
Where there is true compassion, there is compassionate action

Jesus was moved with compassion for: Because: So He:
Matt 9:36 The Multitudes They were lost with no shepherd Asked for laborers
Matt 14:14 A great multitude They were sick Healed them
Matt 15:32 The multitude They were hungry Fed them
Matt 20:29-34 Two men They were blind Healed them
Mark 1:41 One man He was a Leper Healed him
Mark 6:34 Much people They were lost with no shepherd He taught them
Mark 8:2 The multitude They were hungry Fed them
Luke 7:13 A widow Her only son was dead Restored him to life

Weep not

For believers in Christ, death holds no fear:
1 Thess 4:13-18
(13) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
(15)  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. (16)  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (17)  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  (18)  Therefore comfort one another with these words.   (NKJV)

He touched the coffin

Jesus did not fear the ceremonial defilement from contact with the dead.

Three degrees of uncleanness

  How long Unclean How Cleansed
1. That lasting until evening Removable by bathing and washing the clothes; as contact with dead animals
2. That lasting seven days Removable by the "Water of separation," as defilement from a human corpse
3. From the diseased, or menstrual state Lasting as long as this continued; in the leper's case, for life
 

Jesus replaced death with life
He was not defiled  -   he made the defiled clean

Matt 8:2-3
And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.    (NKJV)

The Gospels record three miracles of resurrection:

  Who Died How Long Dead After Jesus Raised Them
(Luke 7:11-17) This young man No longer than a day Sat up and Spoke
(Matt 8:41-56) A twelve-year-old girl Had just died Walked and Ate
(John 11) Lazarus Had been in the tomb four days Shed the Grave Clothes

Four special meetings took place at the city gate that day.

1. Two Crowds Met The crowd that was following Jesus
Jesus and His disciples were rejoicing in the blessing of the Lord
Jesus was heading for the city
    The crowd following the widow and her dead son
The widow and her friends were lamenting the death of  her only son
The mourners were heading for the cemetery
2. Two Sufferers A widow who had lost  her only son
Not only was she in sorrow , but she was now left alone in a society that did not have resources to care for widows.
    Jesus, "the Man of Sorrows"
Jesus felt the pain that sin and death have brought into this world, and He did something about it
3. Two Enemies Death, "the last enemy"  (1 Cor 15:26)
The last enemy to be subdued and abolished is death.
    Jesus, who has the keys of death, hell, and the grave
Jesus had only to speak the word and the boy was raised to life and health.
4. Two evidences of  Life He sat up
Healing of the body
    He spoke
Healing of the mind & spirit

The response of the people was to glorify God and identify Jesus with the Prophet the Jews had been waiting for (Deut 18:15; John 1:21; Acts 3:22-23). 
It did not take long for the report of this miracle to spread.  People were even more enthusiastic to see Jesus,  and great crowds followed Him (Luke 8:4,19,42).

JOHN  THE  BAPTIST'S  DELEGATION

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Matthew 11:1-6
(1) Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
(2)  And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples  (3)  and said to Him, "Are You the Coming one, or do we look for another?"
(4)  Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:  (5)  The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  (6)  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
NKJV
Luke 7:18-23

 
(18) Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things.  (19)  And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming one, or do we look for another?"
(20)  When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming one, or do we look for another?'" 
(21)  And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.
(22)  Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  (23)  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
NKJV

Are you the One?
There has been some difficulty in what is here spoken of John:

Some have thought John was utterly ignorant of the Lord’s Divine mission, and that he sent merely for his own information
But this is certainly inconsistent with his own declaration in Luke 3, John 1 & 3.
Others suppose John sent the message merely for the instruction of his disciples; that, as he saw his end approaching, he wished them to have the fullest conviction that Jesus was the Messiah, that they might attach themselves to Him.
A third opinion Takes a middle course between the two former, and states that, though John was at first perfectly convinced that Jesus was the Christ, yet, entertaining some hopes that he would erect a secular kingdom in Judea, wished to know whether this was likely to take place speedily.

It has been suggested that John now began,  through the length of his confinement,  to entertain doubts,  relative to His kingdom,  that perplexed and harassed his mind.

It is not unusual for great spiritual leaders to have their days of doubt and uncertainty.

(Num 11:10-15) Moses was ready to quit on one occasion
(1 Kings 19) as was Elijah
(Jer 20:7-9,14-18) and Jeremiah
(2 Cor 1:8-9) and even Paul knew the meaning of despair

Go and tell John
Jesus would have men to judge only of Him and of others by their works. This is the only safe way of judging.

People that are without Christ are:

BLIND Their understanding is so darkened by sin that they see not the way of truth and salvation.
LAME Not able to walk in the path of righteousness.
LEPROUS Their souls are defiled with sin, the most loathsome and inveterate disease; deepening in themselves, and infecting others.
DEAF To the voice of God, His Word, and their own conscience.
DEAD In trespasses and sins; being separated from God, who is the life of the soul, by iniquity, .

Blessed is he who is not offended because of me

Offended skandalistheé scandalize

The Jews,  as has been mentioned,  expected a temporal deliverer.  Many would reject Him because of His low appearance,  and so lose the benefit of salvation through Him.
By His poverty and lowliness He condemns the pride and pomp of this world.
He who will not humble himself,  and become base,  and poor,  and vile in his own eyes,  cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
It is the poor,  in general,  who hear the Gospel;  the rich and the great are either too busy,  or too much gratified with temporal things,  to pay any attention to the voice of God.

JOHN  THE  BAPTIST  COMMENDED

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Matthew 11:7-19
(7)  As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?  (8)  But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 
(9)  But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.  (10)  For this is he of whom it is written:
"Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.'
(11)  "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 
(12)  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.  (13)  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  (14)  And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.  (15)  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
(16)  "But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,  (17)  and saying:

'We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not lament.'

(18)  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'  (19)  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children."
NKJV
Luke 7:24-28
(24)  When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?  (25)  But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts.
 (26)  But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.  (27)  This is he of whom it is written:
'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.'
(28)  For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
NKJV

What did you go out to see?
The purport of the Lord’s design,  in this and the following verses,  is to convince the scribes and Pharisees of the inconsistency of  their conduct in acknowledging John the Baptist for a divinely authorized teacher,  and not believing in the very Christ that he pointed out to them.

He also shows,  from the excellencies of John’s character,  that their confidence in him was not misplaced,  and that this was a farther argument why they should have believed in Him,  whom the Baptist proclaimed as being far superior to him.

A reed shaken by the wind
An emblem of an irresolute,  unsteady mind,  that believes and speaks one thing today,  and another tomorrow.

The FIRST EXCELLENCY in John was his STEADINESS

A man clothed in soft garments
He was a preacher of the Gospel who would have nothing about him that savors of effeminacy and worldly pomp.

The SECOND EXCELLENCY in John was his SOBER AND SURRENDERED LIFE

Are in kings' houses
He was contented to live in the desert, and to announce the solemn and severe truths of his doctrine to the simple inhabitants of the country.

The THIRD EXCELLENCY in John was that he DID NOT AFFECT HIGH THINGS

More than a prophet
Or, one more excellent than a prophet;  one greatly beyond all who had come before him,  being the immediate forerunner of Christ.

The FOURTH EXCELLENCY in John that he was DIVINELY COMMISSIONED TO POINT OUT JESUS AND HIS SALVATION

Behold, I send My messenger
This included preparing the people’s hearts to receive Him when He was pointed out.

The FIFTH EXCELLENCY in John was that he PREPARED THE WAY BEFORE HIM

Not one greater than John the Baptist

The SIXTH EXCELLENCY in John was that he WAS GREATER THAN ANY PREVIOUS PROPHET

But he who is least ... is greater
By the kingdom of heaven in this verse is meant,  the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace;  that fullness was not known till after Jesus had been crucified,  and had risen from the dead.

1. The former prophets had their greatness in foretelling Christ.
2. John the Baptist had his greatness in pointing out Christ.
3. We have our greatness in experiencing and sharing Christ.

He is Elijah

The prophet Malachi,  who predicted the coming of the Baptist in the spirit and power of Elijah,  gave the three following distinct characteristics of him:

1. Mal. 3:1 “Behold I send my messenger before me,”
2. Mal. 3:1 That he should appear BEFORE the destruction of the second temple:
“Even the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple.”
3. Mal. 4:5,6 That he should preach repentance to the Jews;
and that, some time after, the great and terrible day of the Lord should come,
and the Jewish land be smitten with a curse

Now these three agree perfectly with the conduct of the Baptist,  and what shortly followed his preaching,  and have not been found in anyone else;  that is a convincing proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

Like children

There is allusion here to the habits of children, who imitate in sport what they see performed in sober earnest by adults.  The public processions and rejoicings on Oriental wedding occasions,  and the great lamentations at funerals,  make such an impression on the young mind that children introduce imitations of them into their plays. Some of them play on imaginary pipes,  while others dance,  as at weddings.
Again,  some of them set up an imitation of a mournful wail,  to which others respond in doleful lamentations,  as at funerals.  Then at times there will be found some stubborn little ones,  of perverse spirit,  who will not consent to take part in any play that may be proposed.  They will not dance while others pipe,  neither will they lament when others mourn.

They are determined not to be pleased in any way; they will play neither wedding nor funeral.
Thus it was that the people would receive neither Jesus nor John;  but,  like perverse children,  they refused to be satisfied with any proposition made to them.
 

(End of Lesson Nine)

   

 


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