Title: The recognition of Yeshua’s authority in Capernaum and throughout the land
Scriptures to Read: Read Matthew 8:1,5-13; Luke 7:1-17
Yeshua’s authority is recognized by a Gentile
Here we see Jesus’ authority recognized by a Gentile; specifically, a Roman Centurion. A Centurion was an officer of the Roman army, who had authority over 100 men. In Luke’s account in verses 6 & 7, he finds himself unworthy to approach Jesus himself or to have Jesus come under his roof. He recognized that as a Gentile he was unworthy for this to happen. Therefore, he sent the elders of the Jews.
The Roman Centurion loves the nation of Israel
Now normally Jews and Gentiles did not get along. Why are these elders willing to make a request on behalf of the centurion? Notice in verse 4 of Luke’s account, they say he is worthy for Jesus to grant him his request. Why is he considered worthy? Two reasons: We read in verse 5 that he loves the Jewish nation. This centurion is different from other centurions because he loves the Jewish nation. And secondly, he financed the building of their synagogue with his own money. Therefore, he will fall under the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:3. Later, in the book of Acts (chapter 10) we read of another centurion, Cornelius, who also loves the Jewish people, therefore he becomes the first Gentile to enter the church, the body of the Messiah, also experiencing the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant.
The Roman Centurion recognized that Jesus was the Messiah
Now when Jesus was approaching the centurion’s house, he sent friends to say that he is not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. Then he adds in verse 8: For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me. He has officers over him, and he has soldiers under him. He simply has to give a command to any one of his soldiers and they will obey his command immediately. And the point is that Jesus did not have to come to the house, he simply had to give the command and his servant would be healed. This shows the centurion’s recognition of who Jesus is. When Jesus heard this he said to the crowd “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith” (Luke 7:9). This Gentile Roman soldier, part of the subjugating army, has shown more faith than any Jewish person has shown so far.
Matthew’s Gospel and the Kingdom of God
Because of Matthew’s concern for the kingdom, notice what Matthew adds in verse 11 of his account: I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He points out that when the kingdom is established: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be there enjoying the benefits of the kingdom. As a result, people will come from all over the world to recline at table with the patriarchs. So many Gentiles will be in the kingdom, but in verse 12 the sons of the kingdom will be cast out. The sons of the kingdom, of course, are the Jewish people. But merely being sons of the kingdom will not bring them into the kingdom; they must be believers to enter the kingdom. So, many Gentiles will end up inside the kingdom and many Jews will end up outside the kingdom. In Matthew, verse 13, Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
Jesus displays His authority in Nain
He now comes to the town of Nain, which is a town in Galilee, almost directly south from Nazareth, across the valley. Jesus comes to a funeral procession where a mother had lost her only son. So in the economy of first century Israel she has lost her only means of support. Her husband has gone, and she has no other sons. The son is responsible for supporting his mother, but now he has passed away. As He approaches the procession, He touches the coffin, which would have been forbidden to someone who was a Levite. But He was not a Levite and therefore he could touch the casket. He then orders the son to be raised from the dead. And so a resurrection occurs with three specific results:
1. In verse 16, fear gripped them all and they glorified God.
2. The second result is the recognition that “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” They recognize a divine result here. They recognize Him to be a prophet, but that is not enough. He is more than a prophet. What they are failing to conclude is that he is the Messiah.
3. Thirdly, this report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district. His reputation simply continues to spread. While the Pharisees are rejecting him, he still has a rather large following among the people. The conclusion of verse 17 is the conclusion of the people and not the leaders.