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8. Jesus as Healer

When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

5And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8The 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. 9For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 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. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13And 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.

14And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

16When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

18Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. 19And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 21And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

23And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

28And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

Matthew 8:8. Lord, I do not deserve that thou shouldest come under my roof Matthew’s narrative is more concise, and represents the man as saying this; while Luke explains more fully, that this was a message sent by his friends: but the meaning of both is the same. There are two leading points in this discourse. The centurion, sparing Christ by way of honoring him, requests that Christ will not trouble himself, because he reckons himself unworthy to receive a visit from him. The next point is, that he ascribes to Christ such power as to believe, that by the mere expression of his will, and by a word, his servant may recover and live. There was astonishing humility in exalting so highly above himself a man who belonged to a conquered and enslaved nation. It is possible, too, that he had become accustomed to the haughty pretensions of the Jews, and, being a modest man, did not take it ill to be reckoned a heathen, and therefore feared that he would dishonor a Prophet of God, if he pressed him to enter the house of a polluted Gentile. However that may be, it is certain that he speaks sincerely, and entertains such reverence for Christ, that he does not venture to invite him to his house, nay, as is afterwards stated by Luke, he reckoned himself unworthy to converse with him.502502     “Il ne s'est pas estime digne d'aller parler a Christ;” — “he did not think himself worthy to go and talk to Christ.”

But it may be asked, what moved him to speak of Christ in such lofty terms? The difficulty is even increased by what immediately follows, only say the word, and my servant will be healed, or, as Luke has it, say in a word: for if he had not acknowledged Christ to be the Son of God, to transfer the glory of God to a man would have been superstition. It is difficult to believe, on the other hand, that he was properly informed about Christ’s divinity, of which almost all were at that time ignorant. Yet Christ finds no fault with his words,503503     “Toutefois Christ ne prend pas ces paroles comme dites de l'aventure et sans intelligence.” — “Yet Christ does not take these words as spoken at random and without understanding.” but declares that they proceeded from faith: and this reason has forced many expositors to conclude, that the centurion bestows on Christ the title of the true and only God. I rather think that the good man, having been informed about the uncommon and truly divine works of Christ, simply acknowledged in him the power of God. Something, too, he had undoubtedly heard about the promised Redeemer. Though he does not distinctly understand that Christ is God manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 3:16,) yet he is convinced that the power of God is manifested in him, and that he has received a commission to display the presence of God by miracles. He is not therefore chargeable with superstition, as if he had ascribed to a man what is the prerogative of God: but, looking at the commission which God had given to Christ, he believes that by a word alone he can heal his servant.

Is it objected, that nothing belongs more peculiarly to God than to accomplish by a word whatever he pleases, and that this supreme authority cannot without sacrilege be yielded to a mortal man? The reply is again easy. Though the centurion did not enter into those nice distinctions, he ascribed this power to the word, not of a mortal man, but of God, whose minister he fully believed Christ to be: on that point he entertained no doubt. The grace of healing having been committed to Christ,504504     “Pource que Christ avoit receu la vertu de donner gairison;”— “because Christ had received the power of giving healing.” he acknowledges that this is a heavenly power, and does not look upon it as inseparable from the bodily presence, but is satisfied with the word, from which he believes such a power to proceed.


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