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The Centurion’s Servant

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 8, 2022 12:01 am

The Centurion’s Servant

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 8, 2022 12:01 am

Such is the power of Jesus' divine authority, that by a mere word He raises the dead to life and makes the broken whole. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Luke to tell the remarkable story of Christ's healing a centurion's servant.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. How is it possible for Jesus to heal somebody simply by word? Well, we're talking here about the One who is God incarnate, the One who had the authority over heaven and earth. In Luke chapter 7, Jesus is summoned to heal the servant of a Roman centurion, and a miracle took place that day. As we continue our study of the gospel of Luke, Dr. R.C.

Sproul reminds us that we too have the opportunity to serve the God of miracles, and that He's worthy of our faith, trust, and praise. This morning we're going to start on chapter 7 of the gospel according to St. Luke. I'll be reading from verse 1 through verse 10. Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum, and a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to Him, was sick and ready to die. So when He heard about Jesus, He sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal His servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the One for whom He should do this was deserving, for He loves our nation and has built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them, and when He was already not far from the house, the centurions sent friends to Him, saying to Him, Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter my roof. Therefore, I did not even think myself worthy to come to You, but say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to one, Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he comes, and to my servant, do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him and turned around and said to the crowd that follow him, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.

And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well, who had not been sick." This is a remarkable incident during the earthly ministry of Jesus, and Luke's record of it comes to us under the inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit, again carrying the full weight of God's authority and His truth. And so I urge you to receive it as such. Let us pray. Our Father and our God, again we come to Your Holy Word this morning, and we who hear it are not holy, save for that consecration that You have made of us by Your Spirit. And so we ask that the full power of this Word may dwell in us richly in this hour, for we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. I really like this fellow, this centurion who sent his servants to Christ, pleading that Jesus would come and heal his servant who was sick to the very point of death. The man was a centurion, a man of some status in the nation of Rome, being a commander of a hundred or more troops. And he was loved by the Jews, as we read here, because he had been very generous. He was obviously a man of wealth, and he had spent his money to build a synagogue for the Jewish people there in Capernaum. And so the Jews come to Jesus, and they say, help this man because he is worthy.

Now there are a couple of things I want us to look at in the time that we have this morning. The first thing is the remarkable concern and care that this powerful and wealthy man had for a slave, for a servant who had no social standing in the community. And yet this man was so exercised about the well-being of his slave that he sent the message to Jesus, pleading and begging for Jesus to come and to heal his servant. Back in the days where I ministered in western Pennsylvania, I was involved in an organization that was called the value of the person that ministered in the arena of labor and management relationships. And one of the things that we were concerned with in organizations that hired many people was how they were treated by their bosses, how they were treated by management. And you know, one of the problems that the management of any organization faces inevitably is the necessity from time to time to terminate employees.

And that's never a happy occasion. Sometimes employees must be terminated because of immorality or illegal activities. Sometimes they need to be terminated simply because they are not able to meet the responsibilities that they have in a competent manner. Many times terminations come because of economic downturns that require that the organizations trim their staff.

And so people are laid off, not for any fault of their own. But there is one type of termination that is often missed and yet is very important, one that I learned working closely with people in that arena of labor and management. And it was this, that in every organization, inevitably there will be managers who are kind and considerate and upright to their bosses, but are cruel and unguarded. Cruel and uncaring to their subordinates.

I'm sure that all of you have been in situations where that goes on. And I've tried to urge people in management, in various organizations, to make sure that if you have managers in those positions that are tyrannizing their subordinates, they must be removed. When the wolf comes into the sheepfold, it is the duty of the shepherd to protect the sheep.

But this was not such an employer. This man cared deeply about those who were under his command all the way down to the slave that was working for him in his house. And to demonstrate and manifest that concern, he sent the message to Jesus, begging for Jesus' help. And we read the story that Jesus went with these messengers, and when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.

This is the second thing I love about this centurion. Everybody else was telling Jesus, You've got to go and help this man. You've got to heal his servant, because here's a man who deserves Your help. Here's a man who is eminently worthy. He's been kind to us as Jews. In fact, he's even built for us a synagogue, and we don't expect that from Roman centurions. So, Jesus, however busy You may be, whatever else is on Your agenda, You've got to make an exception and come and help this man.

But the man sends a completely different message. As much as he wants Jesus' help, he says to him through the messengers, You don't have to come to my house. I'm not worthy that You would come under my roof. Maybe these excited Jewish friends of mine have exaggerated my worth to You, but I'm not asking You to come to me because I deserve it.

I'm not asking You to come to me because I'm worthy. This man understood grace. He understood it in a way that very few of us that very few people in Israel understood it. He understood grace in a manner that very few people understand it, even in the church today. And listen to what he says.

You don't have to come. Just say the Word. That's remarkable. So, I'm left with this question this morning as we read at the end of the story that the servant was healed. And obviously, all Jesus had to do to heal him was to say the Word.

And there are two things I want to consider about that. How was it possible for Jesus to heal somebody simply by Word? Well, we're talking here about the One who is God incarnate, the One who had the authority over heaven and earth. And the centurion recognized that. He says, I understand authority. I'm a man who's under authority. I'm a man who has authority over others.

I say, go, they go, come, they come, do this, and they do it. And I understand, Christ, that You have authority. You have authority over life. You have authority over death. You don't have to be here.

Just say the Word. Now, do you see the difference between that attitude and the attitude of Mary and Martha when their brother died, Lazarus, and when Jesus came four days too late to keep him from dying, and they were distressed, and they said, Lord, had You been here, our brother would not have died. They didn't understand. Jesus didn't have to be there to save Lazarus. He could have done it from a distance. And when He did come, how did He raise Lazarus from the dead? He stands before the tomb, and He opens His mouth and utters a command saying, Lazarus, come out of there. And the One who had been dead for four days began to breathe. His heart began to beat.

Brain waves were rushing through His head, and He emerged from His tomb alive and well by the power of the Word of Christ. I may have told this story before, but when I was in college, I started out as a history major and then changed to a Bible major. And in my sophomore year, I was required to take a social science, and I elected to take a course in philosophy, which I soon regretted immensely. The professor was dry as dust, and he lectured the first day on David Hume.

I didn't know what in the world he was talking about. And then on Immanuel Kant and all these philosophers. And I was so bored that I sat in the back row of the classroom with my notebook open, concealing the printed sermons of Billy Graham that I was reading instead of listening to these dry lectures in philosophy. And then shortly into the term, the professor gave a lecture on St. Augustine and on Augustine's concept of the creation of the universe. And I started to listen, put down my notebook, and I heard him tell how Augustine said that the Lord God Almighty created the whole universe ex nihilo, out of nothing. He didn't just shape and form some pre-existent matter, but out of nothing He creates the entire universe. And how does He do it, the professor says, but through what he called the divine fiat. Fiat.

I thought that was a little Italian car. Instead it was the imperative form of the verb to be. He said, God called the universe into being by the power of His voice, giving a divine imperative, saying, let there be light.

Let there be light. And the lights came on, and I couldn't believe it. It was like I had a second conversion, a conversion to God the Father, to His transcendent majesty and power. I left the classroom that day, and I went downstairs to the registrar's office, and I changed my major philosophy, which some people profoundly regret, but I don't because my eyes were opened to the power of God who could create the whole world by the sound of His voice. And that's all it took for Jesus, who was God incarnate, to heal this centurion's servant.

He didn't have to be there. He just had to say the Word, and by His Word the man was healed. Now, when we look at Christ and the mystery of the incarnation, we see the perfect union of the divine and the human. And in the mystery of the incarnation, we understand that when God took upon Himself a human nature and united Himself with the human Jesus, that the divine nature didn't stop being divine, nor did the human nature stop being human.

There was not a composite being. There was a deified humanity or a humanized deity, two distinct natures, divine and human. And you notice that when they went to Jesus, they said, please come here. And throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus moving from place to place. We read here at the very beginning of the text that after He finished His Sermon on the Mount, He went to Capernaum. Now, of course, the Bible here is discussing Jesus in His human nature because the divine nature was already in Capernaum. When Jesus went from Capernaum to Jerusalem, the human nature had to make the trip. He had to travel the distance between those two points. But when Jesus, touching His humanity, was leaving Capernaum on the way to Jerusalem, the divine nature was already there. How do we know that? Because in the incarnation, all of the divine being retained its divine attributes, one of which was omnipresence, or what we call the attribute of ubiquity, not iniquity, but ubiquity.

And that word comes from the Latin, ubi, which means where, and equa, which means equal, and so equal awareness. Where is God? He's there. He's there. He's there. He's equally here. He's equally there.

He's equally over there. Again, when we understand the incarnation, when the divine nature united with the human nature, the divine nature was not contained within the human nature. Again, we have a grand theological principle. You've all heard it before, and you'll never forget it again, finitum non capox infinitum. The finite cannot contain the infinite. Some of you think this is Diet Coke.

It's really single malt scotch. I just lied. But this glass has a finite volume, and I can fill it to the top.

But if I keep filling it and keep pouring, the excess is just going to go over the side and on the floor and spoil everything around it. Now, when God indwelt the human nature of Jesus Christ, it wasn't that He poured His divine nature into this human and that now the divine nature was contained within the human dimensions of Jesus. No. The divine nature was still omnipresent. Human nature wasn't. The human nature could only be at one place at the same time. It couldn't be in Capernaum and Jerusalem at the same time. But touching the divine nature, He could be everywhere. That's why we say in our confessions and in our creeds, touching His human nature, Jesus is no longer with us.

As He told His disciples, He was going away, and He would come again. Touching His human nature, He's in heaven at the right hand of God. And yet, touching His divine nature, He's never absent from us. And wherever the divine nature is, He is.

The person is. And though the human nature be here, human nature is united with the divine nature that can be here, here, and here. And why is that important? Because He's here, not as human nature. But we commune with the human nature even when the human nature isn't here.

What? The human nature is in heaven. The human nature is still united to the divine nature. And when Christ is present here with us, He is really and truly present in His personhood. And when I commune with Him, I don't just commune with the divine nature. I commune with the whole Christ. In a sense, He lifts our souls to heaven, not because His body's in Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York at the same time.

No. But His person is, really and truly. And this one who healed the centurion's servant by His Word, heals us through the power of His Word, through the power of His Word and through His sacraments. And today, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is ours to commune with Him who is here to meet us and to heal us. Through the power of God's Word, the miracle of salvation takes place in our lives.

New life is breathed into our dead souls, and we are reconciled to God. I hope our study from Luke's Gospel today has reminded you of God's sovereign care of His people. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Sunday.

Dr. R.C. 's role is taking us verse by verse through Luke each week. And as we've just begun Chapter 7 today, you know that we still have quite a way to go, which is a good thing, because our resource offer today will be a great help to you as we continue our study.

When you contact us with a donation of any amount, we will provide you with a digital download of R.C. 's commentary on Luke's Gospel. Our offices are closed on this Lord's Day, but you can give your gift and make your request at

When we hear about Jesus healing the sick, it can cause us to wonder if those kinds of miracles still happen today, or it might raise a question about God's goodness or sovereignty. For questions like these, let me encourage you to take advantage of our online chat service, Ask Ligonier. You can interact in real time with one of our well-trained team members and receive answers to your biblical and theological questions. They're standing by ready to provide trustworthy answers 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday.

If you have a question, simply go to and click on the green chat icon at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. In Old Testament Israel, women relied on their husbands for all their needs for food, clothing, and housing. Next week, we'll learn about a woman whose husband had died and then her only son died as well. She was in desperate need, and Jesus met her need far more abundantly than she could have imagined. I hope you'll join us for that encounter with our Savior next week here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-22 07:12:13 / 2023-04-22 07:19:57 / 8

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