The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son,
and a Sinner
Jesus and the Centurion
Matthew viii: 5 to
Luke vii: 1 to 17; 36 to 50.
was at Capernaum an officer of the Roman army, a man
who had under him a company of a hundred men. They
called him "a centurion," a word which means "having
a hundred," but we should call him "a captain." This
man was not a Jew, but was what the Jews called "a
Gentile," "a foreigner," a name which the Jews gave
to all people outside of their own race. All the
world, except the Jews themselves, were Gentiles.
This Roman centurion was a good man, and he loved
the Jews, because through them he had heard of God,
and had learned how to worship God. Out of his love
for the Jews he had built for them, with his own
money, a synagogue, which may have been the very
synagogue in which Jesus taught on the Sabbath-days.
The centurion had a young servant, a boy, whom he
loved greatly; and this boy was very sick with a
palsy, and near to death. The centurion had heard
that Jesus could cure those who were sick; and he
asked the chief men of the synagogue, who were
called its "elders," to go to Jesus, and ask him to
come and cure his young servant.
The elders spoke to Jesus just as he came again to
Capernaum, after the Sermon on the Mount. They asked
Jesus to go with them to the centurion's house; and
they said, "He is a worthy man, and it is fitting
that you should help him, for though a Gentile, he
loves our people, and he has built for us our
Then Jesus said, "I will go and heal him."
But while he was on his way, and with him were the
elders, and his disciples, and a great crowd of
people, who hoped to see the work of healing, the
centurion sent some other friends to Jesus with this
"Lord, do not take the trouble to come to my house;
for I am not worthy that one so high as thou art
should come under my roof; and I did not think that
I was worthy to go and speak to thee. But speak only
a word where you are, and my servant shall be made
well. For I also am a man under rule, and I have
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. You, too,
have power to speak and to be obeyed. Speak the
word, and my servant will be cured."
When Jesus heard this he wondered at this man's
faith. He turned to the people following him, and
said, "In truth I say to you, I have not found such
faith as this in all Israel!"
 Then he spoke to the friends of the centurion
who had brought word from him:
"Go and say to this man, As you have believed in me,
so shall it be done to you."
Then those who had been sent went again to the
centurion's house, and found that in that very hour
his servant had been made perfectly well.
On the day after this, Jesus, with his disciples and
many people, went out from Capernaum, and turned
southward, and came to a city called Nain. Just as
Jesus and his disciples came near to the gate of the
city they were met by a company who were carrying
out the body of a dead man to be buried. He was a
young man, and the only son of his mother, and she
was a widow. All the people felt sad for this woman
who had lost her only son.
When the Lord Jesus saw the mother in her grief, he
pitied her, and said, "Do not weep."
He drew near, and touched the frame on which they
were carrying the body, wrapped round and round with
long strips of linen. The bearers looked with wonder
on this stranger, and set down the frame with its
body, and stood still. Standing beside the body,
Jesus said, "Young man, I say to you, Rise up!"
And in a moment the young man sat up and began to
speak. Jesus gave him to his mother, who now saw
that her son, who had been dead, was alive again.
A great fear came upon all who had looked upon this
wonderful work of Jesus. They praised God, and said,
"God had indeed come to his people, and has given us
a great prophet!"
And the news that Jesus had raised a dead man to
life again went through all the land.
While Jesus was on this journey through southern
Galilee, at one place a Pharisee, whose name was
Simon, asked Jesus to come and dine at his house.
This man did not believe in Jesus, but he wanted to
watch him, and, if possible, to find some fault in
him. He did not show Jesus the respect due to a
guest, did not welcome him, nor did he bring water
to wash Jesus' feet, as was done to people when they
came in from walking. For in that land they wore no
shoes or stockings, but only sandals, covering the
soles of their feet; and they often washed their
feet when they came into the house.
At meals they did not sit up around the table, but
leaned on couches, with their heads toward the table
and their feet away from it. While Jesus was leaning
in this manner upon his couch at the table, a woman
came into the dining room, bringing a flask of
ointment, such as was used to anoint people of high
rank. She knelt down at the feet of Jesus, weeping,
and began to wet his feet with her tears, and then
to wipe them with her long hair. She anointed his
feet with the ointment, and kissed them over and
This woman had not been a good woman. She had led a
wicked life; but by her act she showed that in her
heart she was truly sorry for her sins. When Simon,
the Pharisee, saw her at the Saviour's feet he
thought within himself, though he did not say it,
"If this man were really a prophet coming from God,
he would have known how wicked this woman is, and he
would not have allowed her to touch him."
Jesus knew this man's thought, and he said, "Simon,
I have something to say to you."
And Simon said, "Master, say on."
Then Jesus said, "There was a certain lender of
money to whom two men were owing. One man owed him
five hundred shillings, and the other owed him
fifty. When he found that they could not pay their
debts, he freely forgave them, and let them both go
free. Which of these two will love that man most?"
"Why," said Simon, "I suppose that the one to whom
he forgave the most will love him the most."
"You are right," said Jesus. Then he turned toward
the woman, and added, "Do you see this woman? I came
into your house; you gave me no water for my feet,
but she has wetted my feet with her tears, and has
wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of
welcome, but she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You
did not anoint my head even with oil, but she has
anointed my feet with ointment. You have acted as
though you owed me little, and you have loved me
little; but she feels that she owes me much, and she
loves me greatly. I say to you, 'Her sins, which are
many, are forgiven.' "
Then he spoke to the woman, "Your sins are
Those who were around the table whispered to each
other, "Who is this man that dares to act as God,
and even to forgive sins?"
 But Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has
saved you; go in peace!"
And Jesus went through all that part of Galilee,
preaching and teaching in all the villages, telling
the people everywhere the good news of the kingdom
Jesus and the Centurion