Luke 7:1-10

God’s Year of Favour – 2 - Clarifying the Message

Faithful Outsiders Included


Luke 7:1-10  -  Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

1 When he had finished giving his message
in the hearing of the people,
he entered Capharnaum.

Unlike with Mark, towns were not necessarily hostile environments for Luke. Luke’s own community members were town-dwellers, and Luke wished to show them a Jesus working in their midst.

2 A certain centurion’s slave,
who was quite important to him,
was not well, and was close to dying.
3 When he heard about Jesus,
he sent some senior Jewish men to him,
asking him to come and make his slave well.
4 When they came to Jesus,
they appealed to him earnestly, saying, 
“They came up to him and urged him earnestly,
saying to him, “He is a worthy one for you do this for,
5 because he is very friendly to our race,
and it was he who built our synagogue for us.” 

The slave could have been either Jewish or Gentile. Many slaves had positions of considerable responsibility within the homes of their owners. The rank of centurion in the Roman army would have been well paid. Like a number of his Gentile contemporaries this centurion was impressed by the monotheistic faith of the Jewish people over whom he was placed, and may have been considered a God-fearer. His practical sympathy for the Jewish faith was obvious through his generosity; his general goodness was evident in the depth of his concern for his slave. In the honour-based culture of the time, wealth provided a means to acquire honour through patronage. It put the senior Jewish men in his debt. Enlisting their support was the centurion’s way of showing honour to Jesus. Jesus responded appropriately, not motivated by honour/debt transactions, but by compassion, and by the beginnings of faith shown in the centurion’s trust in him.

6 Jesus went off with them.
When he was not far from his home,
the centurion sent friends to say to Jesus,
“Lord, do not put yourself to any trouble,
for I am not worthy that you enter under my roof.
7 That is why I did not consider myself worthy to come to you.
Just say word to heal my slave. 
8 I am a person under authority myself,
and I have soldiers under me.
I say to one, ‘Go!’ and he goes,
and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes,
and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
9 Jesus was amazed when he heard this.
He turned round to the crowd following him, and said,
“Honestly, in all Israel I have not found faith like this.”
10 When those who had been sent
had returned to the house,
they found the slave in good health

By recounting this healing, Luke quietly emphasised Jesus’ practical openness to the Gentile world, to whom Jesus truly was, as Simeon had claimed for him, a light of revelation for the gentiles. Luke’s community of Gentile converts would have responded well to this showing of genuine interest towards a Gentile on the part of Jesus.

Jesus particularly wished to highlight the deep faith of this foreigner, in contrast to the cautious and sometimes hostile approach of his own countrymen. The emphasis would not have been lost on Luke’s small community for whom faith, not faithfulness to Jewish ways, was the basis of belonging.

Next >> Luke 7:11-17