Jesus Heals Without Hardly Thinking About It
Luke 7:1-10, Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant
plus Matt 8:5-13, Matt 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30, Matt 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48
Read Luke’s account of Christ healing the Centurion’s slave and see if Luke indicates that Jesus utters certain words, or waves his hands, or touches something, or otherwise does some explicit action to heal the Centurion’s servant. Does Luke even indicate that Jesus initiated the healing action in his own mind?
Luke 7:2-10 2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. (NASB)
Who does the actual healing in this incident?
…but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Compare Luke’s version with Matthew’s. Look for where the actual healing is initiated, and who initiates it. Can you find it?
Matt 8:5-13 5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” 7 Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment. (NASB)
Whose faith does the healing? Whose power? Christ’s? The slave’s? The Centurian’s?
We note that the Centurion asks Jesus to “just say the word” in both accounts. Does Jesus ever actually do this? Does Jesus ever “just say the word?”
…but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Okay, we will accept that this might have happened at the point (v. 13) of Christ saying “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.”
But we are instead inclined to think that Christ never did “just say the word.” Instead, we suggest that the Centurion’s faith, not Jesus’ words, healed the servant that very moment.
We do not know for sure. Perhaps Luke merely and Matthew merely do not tell us. Perhaps Jesus muttered a command under his breath. Perhaps Jesus closed his eyes and thought the thought. Perhaps he was thinking the command while he said “go, it shall be done.”
But we are inclined to think that he did none of these things.
Jesus is no magician. He does not have a hidden string to pull open a trap door, or a code word to alert an assistant to “do it now.” Nor is he a comic book super hero who can point a finger and send a zap of energy to a targeted villain.
Instead, we prefer the notion that the Centurion’s faith alone powered his servant’s recovery, and the moment of healing was, if it can be known, at the moment when Christ recognized that it had just occurred.
Christ never had to even think about it.
Does an omnipotent God and omnipotent Christ even need to think a thought, much less “just say the word” — to trigger a miraculous life-saving power?
Consider the suffering woman with an issue of blood (Matt 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48). She was healed by her touch of the hem and/or tassels of Jesus’ cloak. She was healed by HER faith via her own action of touching the Lord’s garment. Jesus himself was not even aware that she was about to touch him, and so “he” healed without his word or even his awareness.
Here are the three gospel accounts of the Woman with an Issue of Blood:
Matt 9:20-22 20 And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; 21 for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” 22 But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well. (NASB)
Mark 5:25-34 25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse– 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” (NASB)
Luke 8:43-48 43 And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” 47 When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (NASB)
She was one of many persons healed by a simple touch. We cite cases in the gospels and acts below. Healing by the means of the touch is not limited to encounters with the itenerant Christ. Later, in Acts, the Apostle Paul carries the apparent power of healing and distributes this power via the apparent instrument of handkerchiefs. In many of these cases, Paul never meets or even sees persons being healed, at a distance, seemingly by a traveling piece of cloth.
Healings by touch:
Matt 14:34-36 34 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; 36 and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured. (NASB)
Mark 3:10 10 for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. (NASB)
Mark 6:56 56 Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured. (NASB)
Mark 8:22 22 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. (NASB)
Luke 6:19 19 And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. (NASB)
Acts 19:11-12 11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. (NASB)
A closer parallel to the Centurion’s Servant might be the Syrophonecian Woman’s Daughter. The daughter was healed at a distance (like the servant) and by the faith of a proxy (her mother, like the Centurion), after a conversation between the proxy and Christ, where the Lord discerned the faith of the proxy:
Matt 15:21-28 21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. (NASB)
Mark 7:24-30 24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left. (NASB)
Our thesis that the Syrophonecian woman’s daughter was likewise healed without action or thought by Jesus is a little more suspect:
Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.”
And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”
Is Jesus himself triggering the action of healing in these lines?
Nevertheless, we’d still like to press our case that Christ merely observed and reported the healing, which was entirely powered and triggered by the faith of the third-party proxy.
We go on to note that Jesus Christ is no longer present in human form, standing in front of us and wearing a cloak with tassels we might touch. When we pray for others, we are the proxy. When Christ heals today, he always heals from a distance. And though none of us have any power to heal, and each of us has exactly zero power to heal, the faith of any of us, acting through Christ, enables the power through Christ to heal. This power of faith is enabled even when we sneak up behind him. This power is enabled even when we act on behalf of some third party. Through a distance. All we have to do is engage Jesus.
And he hardly even has to think about it.
Pretty cool, hunh!?!
We love the Lord Jesus! We pray that you come closer to Christ every day by reading the actual Bible for yourself.
God’s blessings to you!