Bible Lessons for the Little Ones

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
THE centurion of whom we have been reading was not a Jew; he was a Roman captain, who had charge of soldiers in the city of Capernaum.
What more do we know about him?
We are not told even one of his names, and the Romans generally had three; but we are told of his kindness to God's people. We know, too, that he had heard of Jesus, and that he wanted the Lord to come to him when he was in trouble, but he did not think he was worthy to have Him come under his roof. Yet, when the Jews spoke to the Lord about him, they said, "He is worthy; he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”
They praised him very much, and begged Jesus to help him.
Why was this Roman captain in such trouble?
One of his servants was sick and ready to die. This made his master very sad, for he loved that servant, and could not bear to see him suffering dreadful pain in all his limbs, and to know that no one could give him any medicine which would cure him. The Romans often had a great many servants or slaves, and they were not accustomed to think very much about them if they were ill, but God had given this captain a tender heart to feel for the sufferings of others, and he was not ashamed of loving his poor sick servant.
But what had he heard about the Lord Jesus?
We cannot tell. Perhaps the story of that leper, who could not help telling everywhere about Jesus and what He had done for him, had come to the ears of the centurion. One thing he knew—he was quite sure that Jesus had power over everything, just as he had authority over his soldiers.
The first thing a Roman soldier learned was to obey. If he did not obey the orders of his captain, his punishment was very severe. This captain thought how his word was enough for the soldiers who were under him. And so when the Lord Jesus, who was told of the sick servant, said, "I will come and heal him," the captain sent a message to Him—
“Lord, trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof: wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee; but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”
This was the message, and you can read it in the seventh chapter of Luke. The Lord marveled—that means wondered—when He heard it, and turning round, said to the crowd who were following Him, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”
What a beautiful word from the Lord the centurion had—"As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." It was just so, for when the friends, who had brought the message from the centurion to the Lord returned, all was done. The Lord had spoken the word, and the servant was healed at that very time. The Lord had never come to the house; He had not sent any wonderful medicine; He had never looked upon the poor man who was at the point of death; He had not laid His hand upon him with that touch which had brought cure to the leper. Yet "they found the servant whole "—that means quite strong and well— “who had been sick.”
What a happy day that must have been for the centurion and all who were in his house. He loved his servant before, but he must have loved him much more now that he had been given back to him from the gates of death by the word of the Lord.
Christ said He had not found such great faith in Israel. Among the people whom God had chosen for His own people, and had taught for so many years, there were none who understood the power of the Son of God as this Roman, who had been brought up to worship many false gods.
Faith is the gift of God. It was not by any cleverness of his own that the centurion knew there was only One who could heal his dying slave, and that He had but to say to the dreadful sickness, "Go," and it would let go its hold at once.
The Lord told His disciples that many poor Gentiles, like this Roman captain, should sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Abraham and Isaac and Jacob all had faith in God; Abraham is the first person of whom we are told that he "believed God," and God counts this faith in His word, which is His own gift, a very precious thing. Do you know what it means, dear children?