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CHAPTER VI. Many brought from distant parts to be healed—The centurion's
servant healed-Subordination in the Roman army-Danger of unbelief-Woes pronounced on Bethsaida, Chorazin, and CapernaumNain--Eastern funerals—A widow's son raised from the dead— The young may die—The Saviour's call
Many miracles. It was a saying of the Jewish rabbins, loves the sea of Galilee, beyond all other seas;' and, indeed, it was greatly honoured by Him who is “the true God, and eternal life.”
His hours of solitude and prayer were spent on its margin, or among the mountains which bounded its shores; its neighbourhood was the scene of
most of his miracles; and to it he at times withdrew, to escape from the designs of rash friends, or enraged enemies. The conduct of the pharisees had driven him from Judea, and he came again to the sea side. Galilee being under a different government, and separated from Judea by Samaria, he was more out of the reach of his persecutors.
LUKE vi. 17-19. Though Christ had a short rest from his enemies, the afflicted still pressed about him for relief. “A great multitude of people” followed him from the country he had just left, while others showed their faith in his power to heal, by bringing their sick from Idumea, Tyre, Sidon, and other more distant parts. Idumea was about one hundred miles from where Jesus then was. To carry the afflicted so long a journey would occupy many days, and be attended with danger and great expense; yet the hope of relief prompted many to undertake it. Their faith was rewarded in all obtaining a cure; and on their return to their own countries, the fame of Christ was spread to a considerable distance around. May we be as anxious and as earnest in seeking to Jesus, to obtain mercy for our souls.
A CENTURION's SERVANT HEALED.
Matt. viii. 5–13; LUKE vii, 1–10. AFTER a short absence, our Lord again entered Capernaum, where the first act of his power was to heal the servant of a centurion.
Herod, at this time, was king of Galilee, but
under subjection to the Romans. To support himself in his authority, and to enforce the payment of tribute, which he had to render to the emperor of Rome, large bodies of soldiers were stationed in various parts of the land.
The Roman officer who came to Christ was a centurion, or captain over a hundred men. He had heard, we may suppose, of the cure of the nobleman's son, in this town, and was encouraged by it to apply to Christ on behalf of his afflicted servant. Though he must have felt the difference there was between a Jewish nobleman, and a Roman officer, who was by birth a Gentile, yet he appears to have had strong faith, which overcame every thing that would have kept him back. He manifested also great humility, as well as great faith; for, not thinking himself worthy to go to Christ, he engaged the intercession of the elders, or chief persons among the Jews. They came to our Lord, and earnestly besought him to grant the request. They pleaded on his behalf : “ He is worthy for whom thou shouldest do this; for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” It was an unusual circumstance for a Roman soldier to build a house for the worship of God: the Romans commonly showed great contempt for the religion of the Jews. Such, however, was the respect which this centurion had gained with the people among whom he was stationed, that the elders overcame their own prejudices, that they might ask a favour of Christ on his behalf.
It is not unlikely that he was a worshipper of the true God-a proselyte of the gate, like Cornelius, another pious centurion, whose name is recorded in the Scriptures, Acts x. 1. Though there were many corruptions among the Jews at this time, he had seen the superiority of their religion over the degrading and unholy rites of idolatry, and was now a convert to their faith. His connexion with the Jews had made him acquainted with the sacred writings, and he may have become so enlightened, as even to be among those who now looked for the coming of the Messiah.
“I will come and heal him," was the reply of Jesus; who, unlike earthly physicians, could speak with certainty as to the result. He at once went along with the elders on the way to the centurion's house. The news that he was on the road was soon carried to the officer, who was greatly affected with this prompt and gracious act of our Lord. The nobleman's son was cured at a distance; Jesus did not go to his mansion; but for Him to come down in person to the centurion's house, was an act of unexpected kindness. So highly did he think of Christ, and so lowly of himself, that he felt himself unworthy to receive him under his roof.
Jesus still went forward, when the centurion, hearing of his approach, sent his friends to entreat him not to give himself so much trouble, for as he was not worthy to apply to Christ in person, so he was less worthy to receive him into his habitation. Our Lord still proceeded onward: for he ever loves to honour those who are lowly in their own esteem, who are sensible of their unworthiness.
Christ now drew nigh to the house, when the centurion hastened from the sick-bed of his servant, and with reverence addressed him: Lord, trouble not thyself, for I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Observe his lowly view of himself. “ He is worthy,” said the elders.
“ I am not worthy,” cried the humble soldier. He makes no mention of his having built a synagogue, or that he had become a worshipper of the God of Israel; he says nothing of his kindness to his servant, nor claims anything on account of his own rank; but, in deep self-abasement, he submits the case to the compassion of Christ.
By an allusion to his profession, he expressed his entire confidence in the perfect ability of Jesus to restore his servant: “ 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.” Now, if I, who am myself under authority, or but an inferior officer in the army, am promptly obeyed by the soldiers under me, though I only speak a word ;* how much more is it in thy power to remove the affliction of my servant! for the most inveterate diseases are as obedient to thy word, as the most disciplined soldiers are to the
• The strictest subordination and obedience were exacted of every Roman soldier.
The Roman infantry were divided into three principal classes, each of which was composed of thirty companies, and each company contained two hundred men. Over every company were placed two centurions, one to each hundred; who were, however, far from being equal in rank and honour, though possessing the same office. The humble centurion of the Gospel, appears to have been of the inferior order. He was a man “under authority” of other centurions.
“ A captive chief, who was marching to the British head-quarters, on being asked concerning the motives that induced him to quit his native land, and enter into the service of the rajal of Nepal, replied in the following impressive manner : • My master sent me, He says to his people, to one, Go you to Ghurwal. To another, Go you to Cashmire, or to any distant part. The slave obeys; it is done. None ever inquires into the reason of an order of the rajah.'” Dr. Adam Clarke; Fraser's Notes of
Journey to the Himalaya Mountains.