1When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, 5because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." 6So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
11Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."
14Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." 17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. (NIV)
1. People of great faith know that they are not worthy to receive anything from the Lord, despite what others may say (vv. 4-7).
The centurion had contemplated the truth of Eph 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."
2. People of great faith take Christ at his word, without any demand to see him or his miracles (vv. 7-8).
Contrast the centurion's attitude with some who "demanded miraculous signs" (Mt 12:38-40) or even Jesus' own disciple Thomas (Jn 20:24-30 - notice Jesus' subtle rebuke to him in v. 29).
3. The qualities of humility, and unhesitant, unquestioning faith and obedience, constitute great faith in the eyes of Jesus, and he will honor it (vv. 9-10).
The centurion proves to be a perfect example of that kind of unshakeable faith that Jesus illustrates by the "firm foundation" in Luke 6:46-49.
4. The Lord is full of compassion, especially toward those who are alone (vv. 12-13).
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Ps 34:18).
Toward those who trust in him, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev 21:1-4)
5. Christ has the power to reverse death (vv. 14-15).
This event parallels 1 Kings 17:7-24, which tells the account of the widow at Zarephath, whose son had just died. Just as God was demonstrating his power through Elijah - by bringing her her son back to life - in that account, so He is through Jesus here. The major difference to be noted, of course, is that while Elijah had to use prayer, Jesus simply spoke.
Jesus gives life through his Word:
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11: 25-26)
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:23).
6. The extraordinary works of God should bring about fear and praise in his people (v. 16).
Certainly many of this crowd may not have even yet known who Christ was, but we as His people should emulate their response anyway.
1) What can we learn from the character of the centurion?
2) What important things are we reminded of by the miracle in Nain?