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Bible Story: Jesus and The Centurion's Servant

Updated on January 14, 2011

The healing of the Centurion's servant is most likely a true story...about real people.

In the Bible, this story comes right after Jesus has finished telling all those folks about...the Beatitudes. Someone once gave the Beatitudes another name.

The attitudes to be.

This story is wonderfully told. In all it's details; it throbs with life. It's told in a way that reminds us today...there were witnesses who saw and heard what Jesus is truly He spoke; the things that He did so marvelously...He loved.

So, for what it's worth, I'm convinced that we have this beautiful story that we will learn the two simple lessons of the Beatitudes

God is love. Now go and do likewise.




When Jesus finished His Discourse He leaves the crowds behind and goes to Capernaum.


A Roman Centurion, a gentile, has a dear, sick servant who is about to die.


The Centurion heard about Jesus (His healing powers). He sends the Jewish elders of the synagogue in Capernaum to appeal to Jesus to come and heal the Centurion's servant.


And when the Elders found Jesus they urgently pleaded that the Centurion was worthy of this special request.


(and they gave two reasons )

#1- He, the Centurion, loves our nation, Israel.

#2- He built our synagogue.

(Now this is something unusual for a Roman military man to do. Paying to have the synagogue built was not only a costly thing to do. It also meant that he was publicly showing he loved and supported the Jews.)


So Jesus sets out with the Elders. And when they near the house, the Centurion sends his friends to Jesus saying, "I am not worthy for you to enter my home."

(Jewish law would make Jesus "unclean" for entering the home of a gentile. Implied is the humble courtesy of helping Jesus avoid this ritual uncleanness.)


"And that's why I also think, I, (the Centurion) am not worthy to come to you".

(In person - because the Jews have no dealings with, and keep themselves separate from, the gentiles. Someone once noticed that phrase about being "unworthy". It reminded them of what John the Baptist said...he was unworthy to tie Jesus sandals.)

"...just give the command, and my servant will be healed."

(He implies; you don't even need to touch him; your voice will carry the healing to him. And your person will not be stained by my uncleanness.)

(note that the Centurion twice says, he is unworthy.)


(He believes the voice of Jesus is sufficient because....)

"Like you, I am a man"

(he believes Jesus is a man. Perhaps a prophet?)

"set under authority."

(I too, get my orders from those who are higher up than me.)

"I have soldiers under my command and I say to one of them, "go", and he goes; and to another one "come", and he comes; and when I speak to my servant saying, "do this", he does it."

(Note: the last comment is NOT about soldiers -it's about his servant.)

(Does this hint at the motive behind the love he must feel for his loyal and obedient servant who is dying?)

(Is he responding to his own servant's need like our heavenly Father does?)

(How much this Roman Centurion understand something about the deep, abiding love of God?)

(God rewards loyalty, obedience and humility... with compassion, mercy and grace.)

(Note that NOTHING is said about the servant -except that he has a need. And this is important. Because the focus of the story is upon the Centurion's compassion. And his wonderful, amazing faith Jesus Christ.)


And when Jesus heard this, he marveled at the man, and turned to His followers, and said, "I'm telling you, I have never, in all my travels, seen such faith; no, not even in Israel."

(Not even among the Jews).


And when the Centurion's friends and the Jewish Elders

(the text says, "they that were sent".)

(And in this short story, the Centurion has expressed the meekness and the love of Christ toward His servant in need. He makes no demand; instead he offers a plea on the part of another and that, not in person, but by those in authority under him, his "sent ones". )

(The Centurion sets aside his rank, his status and his power -like Jesus. This same Jesus, who came down from heaven, and set aside His Position, His Place and His Power; to focus His heart and mind upon the needs of mankind. By focusing on the need of the Other; he ignores his everyday Self and puts others first. His heart's desire is to best meet the need of the one he loves.

And this is the will of the Father who sent Him. To Love Others. To be loving. To forgive.

And when the Centurion's friends and the Elders came to the house, they found the servant restored, in perfect health, again.

(Here is the evidence of Jesus power. We all get this. But do we realize the message is NOT about power?)

(It is about a LOVE that listens and then meets our need in a loving way.)

(It is all about our loving God. How He works among us every day.)

(I can hear His voice, so near; softly saying..."Now go and do likewise".)



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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I think that this passage is a great remdnier of what is truly important. While the Jewish representatives sent by the Centurion felt that he deserved to be rewarded for his acts, it was his faith that ultimately moved Jesus to heal his servant. Often times we feel that God owes us something. But this attitude comes from our actions and is not based upon our faith. We must remember that it is only through God's will and his grace that we have what we have, and it is through our faith that God responds to us.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I think I'm being ornery today. I was redinreag this passage and wondering why the centurion had the elders call Jesus to his house in the first place if he knew that Jesus could heal his servant from afar. Why is that true faith? If the centurion knew that all Jesus had to do was to give the order to heal, then why didn't he just ask the elders to ask Jesus to heal his servant? Instead, the centurian sent the elders asking him to COME and heal his servant. Then, when Jesus makes the trip and gets close to his house, then the centurion comes out and tells him that he knows that Jesus doesn't need to come into his house. I don't get it.Anyway, on another topic: The passage about the elders appealing to Jesus on behalf of the centurion, saying that he deserves to have his healing wish fulfilled, made me about what I think that I deserve in this life. Our human ethics are built on a concept of fairness based on quid pro quo (i.e., you do this for me and I'll do that for you, or you treated me like that so I'll treat you like this). Jesus' merciful grace is founded upon people getting what we don't deserve (forgiveness and reconciliation with our Creator), or, to put in another way, people *not* getting what we truly deserve (eternal separation from Him). So, the next time that I think that something's not fair in my life or in the world, I'll have to think twice. Jesus has restored my relationship with my Creator, what more do I think I deserve in this life? If I spend every moment of the rest of my life thanking and praising Him, it will not be enough. I wish that I could experience more the depth of Jesus' love for me, but I don't think I can because then I would also have to experience His unfathomable pain at how I waste my life pursuing things other than Him. He longs to give me more of Himself and bring me closer to Him, but I am pre-occupied with selfish desires and worthless pursuits. I'm sorry, Jesus.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm confused about the first sentence in your commentary. If one is a believer in Christ, then wouldn't ALL the stories in The Bible be true to you? Would appreciate your reply. Thank you!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It awesome

    • FriendofTruth profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Just recently I noticed the verse in Luke which talks about the centurion building the synagogue for the Jews, I never noticed that before, and it does say a lot about his character and faith.

      Great hub!

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      A marvalous hub. Faith, Love and acknowledging authority are all in this simple, beautiful event.

      I am voting up.

    • HubCrafter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Arizona

      Hi Sean:

      Sorry to be so thick...but...

      Is that the long version of,

      ..."Matthew and Luke lived during the time the story occurred and probably witnessed it firsthand?"

      ...and, "not long after the event, one or both of them wrote the story down."

      If so...I certainly agree with you, Sean.

      My take is that Matthew witnessed it, along with some or all the other apostles.

      Mark doesn't include the story in his gospel, so perhaps Peter wasn't there; or Mark's brief work just didn't include it for some other unknown reason.

      John says that all the books in the world couldn't hold all the stories and works Jesus did. So by this we might also infer the gospel authors were selective about what they wrote about. Plus..I heard that parchment was extremely expensive. This may also have limitted the authors to a certain length according to what was at hand.

      Luke is more the collector of stories. His firsthand accounts seem to be found exclusively in Acts.

      Thanks for posting your comment.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The fact that Matthew and Luke have a slightly different version of the story actually indicates knowledge of the authors with the contemporary situation, thereby indicating that the gospels were written shortly after the events described in them, see also

    • jaymelee23 profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Great hub.. it really made me think about things.

    • HubCrafter profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Arizona

      Hi Unchained Grace:

      Yes. You are so right.

      When our hearts are open to His love, He initiates the vision of the work. When we grasp the vision with our faith...we believe. When we believe...He does all things well. We see His Hand at work around us. And our His joy. Our His service.

      We are like raindrops. God lifts us to the heavens, gathering His love into clouds of witnesses. Then as His love is filled within each heart, each raindrop; we fall... filtering down, a billion strong. To rest upon the land, the creatures, the fields; bringing His love, meeting the needs of many.

      There is no grasping of HOW God works all these things together for good. His works are a marvel of complexity, of harmony and good. He makes my joy complete.


    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 

      8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Dahoglund stated it is also about faith. Truly, faith is a very powerful underwritten component of the passage. By underwritten I mean foundation. Such as an insurance policy will have an underwriter. See it. Believe it. Receive it.

      We see it in its spiritual realm. We see the healing before it physically occurs. We believe it shall be. Therefore, it is.

      God said it. I believe it. That settles it.

    • HubCrafter profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Arizona

      Yes it is. Faith like no one else. It's a beautiful story. Thanks for your wise remarks DA.


    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think it is also about faith. The centurian believes in both Christs power and his compassion (love)


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