The Faith of a Centurion


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH RC SPROUL

The Faith of a Centurion
========================
Matthew 8:5–13 “When Jesus heard this,
he marveled and said to those who
followed him, ‘Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such
faith’” (v. 10).

Notably, Jesus orders
the leper to tell no one about his healing. Instead, he
must first go to the
priest in order to be declared clean (Matt. 8:4). Having
the cured man obey
the laws for leprosy’s cleansing (Lev. 14:1–32) testifies
to the priests that
Jesus does not come to break the Mosaic law. Also, the
ability to heal leprosy is a prophetic miracle (2 Kings 5:1–14), and so Christ
may intend to
reveal His prophethood to the priest through the leper’s
testimony. Moreover,
the commoners expect a Messiah who will kick the Romans
out of Palestine.
Having the cured man not proclaim Christ’s power will help
keep His acclaim
from spreading too rapidly and arousing Rome’s ire before the
proper
time.

Jesus’ healing of the leper is also a clue that His ministry will
fulfill and
thereby end the ceremonial regulations that separate Jew from
Gentile. He can
cleanse the unclean and touch the polluted without Himself
suffering such
uncleanliness. This is a strong hint that the new covenant era
will not be one
marked by ceremonial distinctions as the old covenant
was.

The healing described in Matthew 8:5–13 also involves a person
considered
unclean in first-century Judaism. A centurion, who is a Roman
officer in
charge of one hundred troops, comes to Jesus urgently requesting
his servant’s
healing (vv. 5–6). Most Jews are hostile toward these foreign
occupiers, but
Christ feels for the man’s beloved servant and acquiesces to
the man’s request
(v. 7). However, the centurion’s great faith means that our
Savior will not
have to go to the man’s home (v. 13). In Roman society, the
emperor has
supreme authority, and he delegates it to officers like
centurions. To disobey
these officials is to disobey the emperor himself. The
centurion sees that
Jesus is invested with a similar authority, only the
person He represents must
be God (vv. 8–10). This officer understands, as
John Calvin comments, that “he
who, by the mere expression of his will,
restores health to men, must possess
supreme authority.”

Many who
should know better never recognize Jesus’ authority. This Gentile
sees Jesus
for who He is, anticipating the day when many foreigners will, by
faith, be
grafted into God’s people Israel (vv. 11–12; Rom. 11).

Coram deo: Living
before the face of God
========================================
In Christ,
God is keeping His promise to bless all the families of the earth
in Abraham
(Gen. 12:1–3). The conversion of the nations to Christ is among the
most
tangible proofs for the veracity of the Bible. What Jesus has predicted
is
coming to pass — the Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus. Think today
on
Jesus’ transformation of the nations and be encouraged that He has not
left
His people without a message.

For further study:

Genesis
27:29

The Bible in a year:

Judges 11–12

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