Posted September 16, 2013 by FLL Editorial Team in

The Healing of a Centurion’s Slave

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come here, and he comes; and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Luke 7:1-10

Although that centurion was strong in battle, and the prefect of the Roman soldiers, yet because his particular attendant lay sick at his house, considering what wonderful things the Savior had done in healing the sick, and judging that these miracles were not performed by human power, he sends to Jesus directly, as to God.

Jesus would not go to the son of the nobleman, unless He should seem to have respected his riches; He went immediately here, that He might not seem to have despised the low estate of a centurion’s servant. But the centurion laying aside his military pride puts on humility, being both willing to believe and eager to honor. For he supposed that health was given to man not by the power of man, but of God. The Jews indeed alleged his worthiness; but he confessed himself unworthy not only of the benefit, but even of receiving the Lord under his roof.

Observe that the centurion held a right opinion concerning the Lord; he did not say, “pray and beseech”, but, “command only”; and in fear that Jesus should refuse him out of humility, he says that though he is subject to the power of the tribune or governor, yet has command over his inferiors, that much more so is Jesus who is God, able to fulfill whatever He wishes by the services of His angels. For the weakness of the flesh or the demonic powers were to be subdued both by the word of the Lord and the ministry of the angels.

Christ did not blame him, but confirmed his wishes, as it follows, “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled.” But who had put this very faith in him, save He who marveled? But supposing another had done it, why should He marvel if he already knew it? Because when the Lord marvels, it signifies that we must marvel. For all such feelings when they are spoken of God, are not the tokens of a wonder-struck mind, but of a teaching master. But that you might see plainly that the Lord said this for the instruction of others, St. Luke wisely explains it, adding, “Verily I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” But He does not speak of Patriarchs and Prophets, but of the men of the present age to whom the faith of the centurion is preferred, because they were instructed in the precepts of the Law and the Prophets, but the centurion with no one to teach him believed of his own accord.

The faith of the centurion is proved, and the health of the servant established. It is possible then that the good deed of a master may benefit his servants, not only through the merit of faith, but the practice of discipline.

Catena Aurea (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Commentary on Luke (Eusebius of Caesarea)
Explanations on the New Testament (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)
Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Luke (St. Ambrose of Milan)
Homily 26 on Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)

FLL Editorial Team