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Jesus heals a centurion’s servant
1877 woodcut from a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (@iStockphoto.com/ZU_09)
Jesus heals a centurion’s servant

‘Just say the Word’

Religion | Theistic evolutionists should accept, with centurion-like faith, that the sovereign Creator spoke the universe into being by the power of His Word, and His Word alone

Into the continuing discussion of the earth’s origins in general and theistic evolution in particular comes John Hultink, a native of the Netherlands who has lived most of his life in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada.

A WORLD subscriber and backer since its first issue, John is a real estate developer, book distributor, and publisher of books and newspapers. He has a keen interest in Christian education, philosophy, theology, and the application of biblical truth to all of life.

John graciously has allowed WORLD to publish his thoughts on how creation bears testimony against theistic evolution. —Joel Belz

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“… just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:7).

Jesus is not given to exaggeration. Yet what He said about the Roman centurion recorded in Matthew (8:5-13) and Luke (7:1-10) appears to lean in that direction. Jesus said this centurion had faith that was greater than the faith of anyone in Israel. This claim would entail that the faith of this non-Israelite was greater than the faith of Peter, James, John, and the believing members of the synagogue. Such faith would bring this man into the company of Old Testament believers like Job and Abraham. Yet this centurion did not know Jesus personally. He was not even an Israelite. He did not consider himself worthy even to ask Jesus to come into his house. So what made his faith so remarkable?

This man, this Gentile believer no less, had faith that was so exceptional that both Matthew and Luke recorded that Jesus marveled at this faith. Yes, marveled. That is, Jesus expressed admiration. To the crowd Jesus said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Jesus met tens of thousands of people during His ministry but seldom did He have occasion to marvel at someone’s faith.

What was so exceptional in this instance? What was there about this man’s faith for Jesus to marvel at? A great deal! And Jesus uses this incident to teach His disciples, Israel, and us an important lesson. Even today, 2,000 years after the event, Jesus uses his encounter with the Roman centurion to drive home the lesson of what it means when Scripture emphasizes that He, Jesus Christ, is “the Word.” In an age where the knowledge derived from the field of science has been elevated to idolatrous heights, we have lost awareness and sensitivity to the unique nature and power of “the Word.”

The centurion in this account employed an analogy to make his point comprehensible to his listeners. He drew a comparison between himself and Jesus with respect to authority, saying to Jesus, “For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

This centurion believed that Jesus also is a Man who exercises authority, authority infinitely greater than his own. He believed Jesus has the awesome authority to command all aspects of creation. All Jesus needs to do to exercise this authority according to the centurion is to say the Word, and his servant would be healed. No questions, no calculations, no doubts. What a tremendous faith. As children place their trust in their father and mother, so this Gentile believer placed absolute trust in Jesus. Just say the Word, Lord, and sickness, disease, and death will flee at your command, he fervently believed. All Jesus has to do is speak the command. This Roman centurion would have had no difficulty believing the biblical record that Jesus spoke the creation into being by the power of His Word.

Yes, the centurion believed that Jesus’ authority is that great: Just say the Word, Lord, and my servant will be healed. And that, said Jesus, is an expression of faith that should fill the hearts of all believers: But I have not found faith like that anywhere, no, not even in all Israel among the hundreds of thousands of descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Mark 6:6).

In the depth and breadth of his faith, this centurion acknowledged Jesus as Creator and Lord over all creation. God enabled this man to understand the “servant character” of creation. He acknowledged that Jesus is creation’s Lord and has the power to command the entire creation to do His will. Even as the centurion’s underlings obeyed when he said, “Come” and “Go,” so also creation instantly obeys the command of its Sovereign and Lord. No questions asked, not a moment’s hesitation, no back talk: Just say the Word, Lord. Just say the Word, and your will is accomplished.

©2013 John Hultink. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


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