10 Things We Learn About Jesus from the Healing of the Centurion's Servant

Mark Driscoll » Trinity Biblical People Gospel

From the recent sermon Jesus Heals a Centurion's Servant, on Luke 7:1–10. There are ten things we learn about Jesus from his healing of the centurion's servant in Luke 7:1–10.

1. He is a sovereign ruler

I love the fact that the centurion gets this. He says, “I understand chain of command. I rule over a hundred warriors, and you, you’re in a completely different rank.” God becomes a man. He has complete authority. He is sovereign ruler. The Bible says he is king of kings, lord of lords. For some of you, your Jesus is way too small. He’s just a helper, a counselor, a comforter, a friend. He’s not Christ. He’s not ruler, Lord, savior, God, king, and judge. This man, the centurion, the soldier, he understands who Jesus is. “I understand chain of command. You’re at the top. Creator, that’s who you are.” That’s who Jesus is.

2. He is a humble initiator

This sovereign king comes into human history as the man Jesus Christ. He goes on a tour to preach in towns. He goes to people. When requested to go to the home of the centurion, he is on his way. He’s a humble initiator. He is going out to serve. He is going out to help. He is going out to preach, teach, cast out demons, and heal. And unlike religion, where we go looking for God, Christianity is about God looking for us because we’re lost, and he’s not. Some of you don’t know it, but Jesus is looking for you. He is seeking you. He knows you. He loves you. He died for you. He’s pursuing you. He’s a humble initiator. He doesn’t owe us anything, but he pursues us in love.

3. He is a global savior

We see Jesus in this story serving Jew and Gentile, rich and poor. We see him serving slave and free. We see him serving Roman and Jewish people. We see that Jesus loves all people. Unlike some religions that tell you that their God loves their nation, their people, their tribe, their tongue, their heritage, and their tradition, Jesus loves all people. Jesus is for all nations—young, old, black, white, rich, poor, single, and married. Jesus is for all. It’s wonderful. One God, one savior, one answer—Jesus. It is horrifying that some quasi-religions, cults like Scientology, would even teach you that if you want to move up in the organization, you have to pay more money at each level. Jesus heals for free. Jesus teaches for free. Jesus serves for free. To be sure, people will give generously, but it’s not to get him to do things. It’s because they’re grateful for what he’s already done through grace. So if you’re at Mars Hill, come for free, seats are free, Bibles are free. Prayer is free. Community groups are free. Help is free. Premarital counseling is free. Downloads are free. Salvation is free. Our God is a giver, not a taker, and we love the fact that he is a global savior. He gives to everybody. And for those who really do know him and love him, we want to be generous as he’s been generous, not to earn favor with him, but to demonstrate the favor that he’s already given us. You need to know that the hope of the world is Jesus. The hope of all nations is Jesus. The hope of all people is Jesus, and we see him minister to these various groups in the story.

4. He is a faith seer

Jesus is also a faith seer. See, what religion does is look at the outward. Did you do this? Did you not do that? Did you give? Did you tithe? Did you pray? Did you read? Did you serve? Did you cry? Did you go? And Jesus looks at the heart, “Do you love me?” Morality is great. I would rather live next to someone who is moral than immoral. But insofar as eternal life is concerned, you’re not going to be judged just by the externals, but Jesus is going to look all the way down to the seat, sum, center, total essence of who you are, at the heart, and ask this question: “Do you trust me? Do you have faith in me? Do you love me? Do you belong to me?” It really comes down to you and Jesus. Religious people might pat you on the back and say you’re a good person and you do nice things. You give a lot. You serve a lot. You’re like the centurion, and these are all wonderful characteristics of a decent neighbor, but these are not the marks of a Christian. The mark of a Christian is faith in Jesus, out of which, yes, new life flows, character flows, and change flows. Some of you would judge Christians and say, “I don’t like where they’re at.” You may look where they’ve come from and realize that God is working on them, and they have made some progress, but they’ve still got a long way to go. Jesus looks at the faith. And some of you are, perhaps, in the same position that I was some years ago. “I believe in God, and I think I’m a moral person. And I try to help people, and do nice things, and be a good citizen.” You know whether or not you really have faith in Jesus as God, and God knows whether or not you really have faith in Jesus as God. He sees faith. He’s looking for faith. He’s amazed, we’re told in Scripture, by faith and lack of faith.

5. He is a grace giver

Jesus is a grace giver. Does he give grace to the servant who is suffering? Yes, he heals him. That’s a great gift. Does he give grace to the religious people? Yes, he puts up with them. They’re going to keep showing up in the book, and they’re pretty much annoying every time. That’s how religious people are. And he is gracious to them. He keeps teaching them, rebuking them, and putting up with them. Is he gracious to the centurion? Yes. The centurion actually gets saved and becomes a Christian. He receives saving grace. What about the crowd that hears this story as Jesus uses this man’s faith as an example? Yeah, he gives grace of teaching to them as well. Our God is a grace giver. He loves to give. He’s a giver.

6. He is a prayer hearer

Jesus is a prayer hearer. I want you to see that the request from the centurion through the elders to Jesus is a form of prayer. Any time we have a request, and we bring it to Jesus, that’s a form of prayer. Jesus heard prayer in that day as he does in our day, and he always answers prayer, sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes later, but he always does answer prayer. That’s why we can’t manipulate him through prayer. We can’t make him give us an answer that we want. Again, back to the centurion’s comment, “You are at the head of the chain of command. You’re the commander in chief. I can give you a request, but I cannot give you an order. And when you give a decree, I receive it because of the chain of command. You’re a good ruler. You’re a loving God. I’ll give you my request, you give me your answer, and I’ll obey your orders.” But he does hear prayer. That’s why we pray.

7. He is a transcendent doer

He’s a transcendent doer. Jesus is told, rightly, by the centurion’s servants, that he has a bit of a change of mind. He’s requested that Jesus come to his house, and then he thinks about it. “Jesus is busy, he’s got a lot going on. He doesn’t need to come to my house. All he needs to do is just give an order.” When you’re in authority, that’s how it works. What he’s saying is, “Jesus, you don’t need to be at my house.” And how generous is he? Where’s the servant? At his house. This man’s taking care of his friend. This is kind of like hospice care, those people who love and serve so well. Those people are amazing. He’s like that. “Jesus, you can heal from a distance.” This is good news for us because Jesus goes to the cross, dies for our sins, rises for our salvation, and ascends back into heaven. He’s seated on a throne today, ruling and reigning over all nations, kingdoms, peoples, times, and places. It seems like Jesus is far away—and you know what? He can heal from his throne. He can answer prayer from his throne. He can save and bless from his throne. He doesn’t need to come to your house; he can through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus, from a distance, can still hear, and answer prayer, and do good works, and he does. Just like he didn’t have to go to the bedside of the sick man, he doesn’t need to go anywhere. He can answer prayer from his throne.

8. He is the ultimate healer

He’s the ultimate healer. He heals the servant physically. He heals the centurion spiritually. Jesus heals mind and body. Jesus heals the whole person. In this life, we will die, but because of Jesus’ resurrection, if our faith is in him, we too shall rise and enjoy perfect, eternal healing. He’s the ultimate healer.

9. He is a greater centurion

He’s a greater centurion. The centurion’s job was to go into battle and, as necessary, lay down his life so that others could be blessed. He would die that they might live, he would go as a substitute to die in their place to secure their freedom. Jesus is a greater centurion. He is God come into human history. He is God at war against Satan, sin, and death. He is God who comes, not just leading a hundred, but now leading billions of his servants. And as the centurion is worried about his one servant, so Jesus is worried about us all. He’s a greater centurion. I want you men to see this man, the centurion, probably with scars on his face and on his hand. He’s battle-tested, a general, a captain. He’s strong, a man’s man, and a tough guy. He gives orders, and young men are willing to die. And he looks at Jesus and says, “You’re the boss. You’re in charge. You’re a greater warrior than I.” That’s our Jesus. That’s the Jesus we call men to. That’s the real Jesus.

10. He is the better servant

He’s the better servant. The centurion loved the servant because this was a humble, faithful, and dependable servant. Jesus, we are told in the Bible, is the suffering servant. Jesus serves better than any servant. Jesus suffers, and he doesn’t leave his duties. He goes all the way to the cross, and he suffers in service to us. And so what happens, friends, is when we suffer, we can go to the Jesus who has suffered, and he serves us as we’re suffering, because we have a God who has suffered. And even if and when we die, Jesus still serves us because he’s been through death, and he meets us on the other side, and he wipes every tear from our eyes, and he gives us a resurrection kingdom where death and sin are no more because of his victory. It’s all about Jesus. You can watch the full sermon in the Mars Hill media library.

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