Sabbath, December 20, 2014
“Faith and works go hand in hand; they act harmoniously in the work of overcoming. Works without faith are dead, and faith without works is dead. Works will never save us; it is the merit of Christ that will avail in our behalf. Through faith in Him, Christ will make all our imperfect efforts acceptable to God. The faith we are required to have is not a do-nothing faith; saving faith is that which works by love and purifies the soul.” –Faith and Works, pp. 48, 49.
A caring centurion
1. What prominent man requested Jesus to heal his servant? How serious was the man’s illness?
Luke 7:1, 2 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
“The centurion’s servant had been stricken with palsy, and lay at the point of death. Among the Romans the servants were slaves, bought and sold in the market places, and treated with abuse and cruelty; but the centurion was tenderly attached to his servant, and greatly desired his recovery.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 315.
Request for healing in faith
2. Having heard about the Saviour, why did the centurion from Capernaum send a deputation to Jesus? If he had not had faith in Jesus’ power to heal, would the man have sent such people with the request for help?
Luke 7:3, 4 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this.
“He believed that Jesus could heal him. He had not seen the Saviour, but the reports he heard had inspired him with faith. Notwithstanding the formalism of the Jews, this Roman was convinced that their religion was superior to his own. Already he had broken through the barriers of national prejudice and hatred that separated the conquerors from the conquered people. He had manifested respect for the service of God, and had shown kindness to the Jews as His worshipers. In the teaching of Christ, as it had been reported to him, he found that which met the need of the soul. All that was spiritual within him responded to the Saviour’s words.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 315.
Conscious of his unworthiness
3. What second message did the man send to the Master just before He arrived at his house? What strong faith was expressed in this message?
Luke 7:6, 7 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
“In faith we are only like little children learning to walk. As a child takes its first steps, it often totters and falls; but it gets up again, and finally learns that it can walk alone. We must learn how to believe in God. We are not to look at our feelings, but to know God by living faith. Look at the centurion who came to Christ for an example of genuine faith. He came to Christ beseeching him, and saying, ‘Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only,…’ Matthew 8:6-8.
“What kind of power did this centurion think was vested in Jesus? He knew it was the power of God.” –Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.
A brief command is enough
4. Did the centurion believe that the healing power was only in Jesus’ presence or also in His word?
Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
Luke 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
“As I represent the power of Rome, and my soldiers recognize my authority as supreme, so dost Thou represent the power of the Infinite God, and all created things obey Thy word. Thou canst command the disease to depart, and it shall obey Thee. Thou canst summon Thy heavenly messengers, and they shall impart healing virtue. Speak but the word, and my servant shall be healed.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 316.
An amazing faith
5. Amazed at such great faith, what did Jesus say to those around Him?
Luke 7:9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
“… The centurion, born in heathenism, educated in the idolatry of imperial Rome, trained as a soldier, seemingly cut off from spiritual life by his education and surroundings, and still further shut out by the bigotry of the Jews, and by the contempt of his own countrymen for the people of Israel–this man perceived the truth to which the children of Abraham were blinded. He did not wait to see whether the Jews themselves would receive the One who claimed to be their Messiah. As the ‘light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (John 1:9) had shone upon him, he had, though afar off, discerned the glory of the Son of God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 317.
“The centurion saw with the eye of faith that the angels of God were all around Jesus, and that His word would commission an angel to go to the sufferer. He knew that His word would enter the chamber, and that his servant would be healed. And how Christ commended this man’s faith! He exclaimed, ‘I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.’ Luke 7:9.” –Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.
Request and immediate answer
6. How long did it take for the Saviour to grant the man’s request? What did the centurion and his servants find out when they returned home?
Matthew 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
Luke 7:10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
“The centurion who desired Christ to come and heal his servant felt unworthy to have Jesus come under his roof; his faith was so strong in the power of Christ that he entreated Him just to say the word and the work would be done.
“Here Jesus exalted faith in contrast with doubt. He showed that the children of Israel would stumble because of their unbelief, which would lead to the rejection of great light and would result in their condemnation and overthrow. Thomas declared that he would not believe unless he put his finger into the prints of the nails and thrust his hand into the side of his Lord. Christ gave him the evidence he desired and then reproved his unbelief: ‘Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’ John 20:29.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 233.
Men and women of faith
7. What makes the difference to the Lord–one’s race, nationality, position, and ancestors, or one’s faith? Where will Abraham’s spiritual children–men and women of faith–sit one day?
Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
“The centurion who desired Christ to come and heal his servant felt unworthy to have Jesus come under his roof; but his faith was so strong that he entreated him just to say the word, and the work of healing would be done. ‘When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.’ Matthew 8:10-13.
“Jesus here exalts faith in contrast with doubt. He shows the cause of stumbling on the part of the children of Israel. Their unbelief would lead to the rejection of light and would result in their condemnation and overthrow.” –Signs of the Times, December 30, 1886.
- Would one naturally expect such faith from one who had little light and did not belong to God’s people?
- Why did so many Jews oppose and reject Jesus while a pagan like this centurion readily believed in Him?
- When we read a promise in God’s word, are we willing to believe it immediately, as this centurion believed Jesus’ word?
For further study
“Many hold faith as an opinion. Saving faith is a transaction by which those who receive Christ join themselves in covenant relation with God. Genuine faith is life. A living faith means an increase of vigor, a confiding trust, by which the soul becomes a conquering power.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 347.
“Faith and works will keep us evenly balanced and make us successful in the work of perfecting Christian character. Jesus says, ‘Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.’ Matthew 7:21.” –Faith and Works, p. 49.
“… Men who profess to be followers of Christ seem to think that they are at liberty to receive or reject the servants of the Lord at pleasure and that they will not be called to an account for so doing. Unbelief and darkness lead them to this. Their sensibilities are blunted by their unbelief. They violate their consciences and become untrue to their own convictions and weaken themselves in moral power. They view others in the same light with themselves.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 233, 234.