Luke 7:1-9 (2008)
Luke 7 records an incident that happened during Jesus’ life on earth.
The parallel record is found in Matt 8:5-13.
There are 3 lessons I want to point out from this passage.
First, if you have noticed, there appears to be a difference in the record of Luke 7:1-9 from Matt 8:5-13.
Matthew recorded the centurion talking directly with Jesus.
But Luke recorded the incident with people speaking to Jesus on behalf of the centurion.
Is there really a difference?
Is there a discrepancy in our bible?
Let us understand this matter and strengthen our faith in the bible.
Secondly, I want you to understand and learn from the faith of the Centurion.
I want you to see the characteristics of the centurion’s faith.
I want you to see how this faith is demonstrated in action.
Thirdly & finally, I want you to see the response of Jesus to the faith of the Centurion.
Jesus was delighted with the faith of the centurion.
I want you to know that Jesus delights in us exercising faith.
Let us now cover these 3 lessons one at a time, starting with the first one.
Earlier, we read the same incident as recorded in Matthew and Luke.
If you have been listening, you will notice the apparent difference I mentioned earlier in the 2 record.
Matthew apparently recorded the centurion speaking directly with Jesus.
Luke, on the other hand, recorded that some Jews approached Jesus on his behalf.
So, did the centurion talk to Jesus directly?
Is there a discrepancy in our bible?
Many skeptics like to point out situations like this and cast doubts on our faith.
What should we do?
How should we respond?
First and foremost, I want to tell you that you must always hold a biased view for the Bible.
Whenever you come across something that seems like a discrepancy, you must always believe that there is no error in the Bible.
You must always believe that there is an explanation for it.
You may not get an explanation now.
You may not understand the explanation that is given.
God may have chosen not to reveal the exact details.
But you must always believe that the Bible is true and contains no errors.
If you do not, Satan will use the opportunity to cast even more doubts in your mind.
And before you know it, you would have walked away from the faith.
The Bible is sufficient for instruction, correction, rebuke and instruction so that the man of God is equipped for every good work – 1 Tim 3:16.
The Bible is the word of God and there are no errors in the Bible.
But how then do we explain the apparent difference in the records we just read?
I will need to use 2 analogies to help illustrate my explanation.
Please listen carefully and bear with me.
First analogy – from a movie called “Vantage Point”.
I am not promoting watching movies, but there is something we can learn here.
I do not know if you have ever watched this movie; I watched it on a plane.
It is a story about the attempted assassination of the US President during a convention in Spain.
Now this movie showed the assassination incident 8 times.
But each time, it is showed from a different person’s view point as they saw it.
For example, the body guard of the US President.
His point of view commences from the time he travels with the President from the hotel to the convention location.
His view of the assassination is from where he stood on the platform with the President.
But the terrorist who executed the assassination sees a different view altogether.
His point of view commences when he and his accomplices planted the bomb and sniper weapon.
He does not see what the body guard saw.
And the body guard does not see what the terrorist saw.
Yet, their view of the assassination is an accurate account of what happened because they saw it.
Now, the 4 gospels in the NT were written by disciples who encountered Jesus 1st hand.
These disciples presented Jesus from 4 different view points.
Matthew presented Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Mark presented Jesus as a servant King.
Luke presented the humanity side of Jesus, as the Son of Man.
And John presented the divine side of Jesus, as the Son of God.
Each of them was inspired by the Holy Spirit to report the life of Jesus from their point of view.
So obviously, there will some differences in the way they describe incidents in Jesus’ life.
But their description is real and accurate.
It is their first hand report of what happened from their point of view.
Now, only Matthew and Luke reported about this incident regarding the centurion.
Because God decided that this incident should be recorded in these 2 books.
What are the key points behind the incident of the centurion?
It is about the faith of the centurion and the power of Jesus to heal.
Does the different reporting dilute the key points?
No. Both records hail the faith of the centurion and the power of Jesus to heal.
But, we still have to answer this question:
Did the centurion speak to Jesus directly or did the elders relay his message to Jesus?
We come to my second analogy.
One of my job responsibilities is to manage a Korean company with about 500 employees.
Now, I don’t speak the Korean language.
There was once a customer who asked for a 50% discount on one of our proposals.
The sales representative dutifully raised this request to me.
He did not talk to me directly, but his department manager raised the request to me.
I told his department manager: tell the customer that 20% discount is the maximum we will give.
The sales representative said this to the customer:
My company manager told me to tell you that you can only have 20% discount.
Did I actually say that to the sales representative?
No, I did not.
But my word conveyed through his department manager was as good as me saying it to him.
Now, I do not know whether the Centurion spoke directly to Jesus.
But what I can only tell you the following:
A centurion is senior officer of the Roman army.
In such a position, he normally conveys his instruction through people.
It may also be true that he may not speak the Hebrew language.
So all the more, he has to converse through people.
So what do we say? Matthew is right & Luke is probably not wrong.
Whatever the Centurion said may have been conveyed through a third party.
Yet, they were as good as he having said them himself.
So let us be assured that the bible has no errors.
God has preserved it for us so that we can be instructed in the truth and be saved.
Don’t let skeptics use these little things to make you doubt the Bible.
There will always an explanation.
It is a matter of whether you have the time to study it.
Let us be strengthened in our faith by this truth.
In any case, the message in this incident is not about whether the centurion spoke to Jesus directly.
It is about his faith and it is about the power of Jesus to heal.
We need to focus on the right things.
Let us now come to our 2nd point for today.
I want you to understand and learn from the faith of the Centurion.
There are 2 things that we see in the faith of the Centurion.
First, his faith is demonstrated in action.
You see him living out his faith.
His character shows it.
Even the Jews were full of praise for his character.
They say that he loves Israel.
And this is demonstrated in actions.
The Assyrians & Babylonians attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in Israel.
But in contrast, this Centurion built a synagogue instead.
So you see that his faith is demonstrated in practical action to promote worship.
That is why even the elders of the Israel speak well of him.
But more importantly, his faith is demonstrated in the care and concern he had for his servant.
As a centurion, he would have many servants at his disposal.
If one is sick or dies, just hire another one.
But this is not the case for this centurion.
He cares for each soul under his charge.
He cares to the extent that he would seek all the help he can harness to get his servant cured.
Do you have faith like this centurion that is demonstrated in action?
Do you care for those under your charge with such compassionate actions?
Do you promote worship amongst those that you can influence in the same extent?
Do people speak of you as someone who promotes worship and good works?
The faith of the Centurion is demonstrated in action.
Let us emulate his faith.
Secondly, the faith of the Centurion is seen in his belief in the power of Jesus.
The Centurion did not believe that Jesus was just a good human doctor.
If he did, he would have waited for Him to arrive at his home.
He would have described his servants’ illness and ask for the correct medicine to be given.
No, instead, he believed that Jesus was God.
And he regarded Jesus as God.
That is why, even as a centurion, he considered himself unworthy to receive Jesus into his house.
That is why he requested that Jesus heal from a far.
And he knows that Jesus can heal by just saying the word because he knew that Jesus is God.
The centurion believed in the divinity of Jesus.
The centurion believed in the power of Jesus.
What about you?
It is easy to say you believe that Jesus is God.
But what does it mean to believe that Jesus is God?
Does it translate into how you live your life?
Christians, do you have the assurance that you will be with Jesus the moment you die?
Are you doing things that you know Jesus will be happy with?
Or are you still busy pursuing what pleases your flesh in this world?
Your every day actions speak of whether you have true faith.
Do your actions convey true saving faith like that of the centurion?
Finally, I want you to see the response of Jesus in this incident.
There are 3 things that I want you to see here.
First, Jesus commended the Centurion for his faith.
Listen to what Heb 11: 1 & 6 tell us about faith.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
The centurion believed that Jesus is God.
He demonstrated his belief in Jesus by trusting in Him.
Do you believe that Jesus is God?
Let me tell you that the bible says that Jesus delights in those who seek Him and believe He is God.
And if you believe He is God, there is nothing too difficult in your life that He cannot resolve.
He delights in your putting your faith in Him.
So whatever situation you are in, I encourage you to bring it to Jesus.
He delights in your confiding in Him and trusting in Him.
This is exactly what the centurion did.
Secondly, Jesus rebuked the Jews for not having faith.
The Jews had a history that saw more miracles of God than any other nation.
They had the Bible written in their language.
They had the Prophets and special leaders who taught them from the word of God.
Yet, when Jesus was on earth, they did not recognize that He was the promised Saviour.
In spite of all the miracles, they did not recognize that Jesus is God.
And here was the centurion, a foreigner with no advantages that the Jews had.
And he recognized that Jesus was God and trusted in Him.
What a shame on the Jews.
What a waste of all the special benefits they could have used to draw near to God.
Let me specially speak to those of you who have the privilege of growing up in a Christian family.
Let me speak to those of you who have the privilege of hearing the gospel preached in this Church.
Have you used these privileges properly that you may know God and draw near to Him?
Are you obedient to your Christian parents and use your Christian background to draw near to God?
Or are you like the Jews who wasted away the advantages they had in knowing God?
Be like the centurion and not the Jews.
Jesus commended the centurion and rebuked the Jews.
Let Him not rebuke you for ignoring His word that has been and continues to be preached to you.
Thirdly and finally, Jesus said the word and the servant was healed.
It is not the first time that Jesus did a miracle on earth.
He is God and He has the power to heal.
He said the word according to the request of the centurion and the servant was healed.
If you seek Him today, He also has the power to open your spiritual eyes and have you healed.
He has done many miracles in the life of Christians and He can do the same for you.
Some of you may have heard the gospel many times but simply don’t feel the calling.
I urge you to ask someone to pray for you that the Holy Spirit may work in your heart.
I urge you to pray yourself to God that the Holy Spirit may open your eyes.
It is only the Holy Spirit who can do this work in your heart, so seek Him.
Let me draw today’s meditation to a close.
Our first point was that the bible is God’s word and contains no errors.
Let us be encouraged and strengthened in our faith concerning this.
Secondly, the faith of the centurion was demonstrated in action.
His faith was also seen in his belief that Jesus was God.
Finally, Jesus commended the centurion for his faith.
He also rebuked the Jews for their lack of faith.
Jesus has the power to heal.
He can heal your unbelief.
Call upon Him today.
Let us pray.