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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 8 - Verse 13

Verse 13. He was healed in that selfsame hour. This showed decisively the goodness and power of Jesus. No miracle could be more complete. There could be no imposition, or deception.

This account, or one similar to this, is found in Lu 7:1-10. There has been a difference of opinion whether that was the same account, or whether a second centurion, encouraged by the success of the first, applied to our Saviour in a similar case and manner, and obtained the same success. In support of the supposition that they are different narratives, it is said that they disagree so far that it is impossible to reconcile them, and that it is not improbable that a similar occurrence might take place, and be attended with similar results. To a plain reader, however, the narratives appear to be the same. They agree in the character of the person, the place, and apparently the time; in the same substantial structure of the account, the expression of similar feelings, and the same answers, and the same result. It is very difficult to believe that all these circumstances would coincide in two different stories.

They differ, however. Matthew says, that the centurion came himself. Luke says, that he at first sent elders of the Jews, and then his particular friends. He also adds, that he was friendly to the Jews, and had built them a synagogue. An infidel will ask, whether there is not here a palpable contradiction? In explanation of this, let it be remarked,

(1.) that the fact that the centurion came himself is no evidence that others did not come also. It was in the city. The centurion was a great favourite, and had conferred on them many favours; and they would be anxious that the favour which he desired of Jesus should be granted. At his suggestion, or of their own accord, they might apply to Jesus, and press the subject upon him, and be anxious to represent the case as favourably as possible. All this was probably done, as it would be in any other city, in considerable haste and apparent confusion; and one observer might fix strongly on one circumstance, and another on another. It is not at all improbable that the same representation and request might be made both by the centurion and his friends. Matthew might have fixed his eye very strongly on the fact that the centurion came himself, and been particularly struck with his deportment; and Luke on the remarkable zeal shown by the friends of a heathen, the interest they took in his welfare, and the circumstance that he had done much for them. Full of these interesting circumstances, he might comparatively have overlooked the centurion himself.

(2.) It was a maxim among the Jews, as it is now in law, that what a man does by another, he does himself. So Jesus is said to baptize, when he only baptized by his disciples. See Joh 4:1 Joh 19:1. Matthew was intent on the great leading facts of the cure. He was studious of brevity. He did not choose to explain the particular circumstances. He says that the centurion made the application, and received the answer, he does not say whether by himself, or by an agent. Luke explains particularly how it was done. There is no more contradiction, therefore, than there would be if it should be said of a man in a court of law, that he came and made application for a new trial, when the application was really made by his lawyer. Two men, narrating the fact, might exhibit the same variety that Matthew and Luke have done; and both be true. One thing is most clearly shown by this narrative, that this account was not invented by the evangelists for the sake of imposition. If it had been, they would have agreed in all the circumstances.

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