Lesson Forty Four


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Memory Verse: Luke 1:37
Further Study: Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-17; Desire of Ages, pp. 315-320; The Bible Story, vol. 7, pp. 177-183

The centurion, a Roman captain with a command of 100 soldiers, was wealthy. He’d invested significantly in the building of the local synagogue. When his servant became sick, he summoned some Jewish elders to take a request to Jesus. 

This was unusual. First, the centurion was a Gentile. He must have had a good relationship with the Jewish leadership, although it may simply have been due to his financial support. Second, the individual who was sick was a slave. Typically, a slave would not be thought of as worth saving, but he must have meant something to the centurion. Finally, the centurion doesn’t approach Jesus himself, but sent the Jewish leadership. They made a strong presentation on his behalf as to why he was worthy of Jesus’ attention.

There’s a change on the part of the centurion.

Jesus headed toward his home, but unexpectedly there’s a change on the part of the centurion. The one who felt worthy enough to make the request, abruptly sent another delegation to express his unworthiness. At some point between the initial appeal and Jesus’ arrival, the centurion decided the two of them didn’t belong under the same roof together. Just a word from Jesus would do.

As a practicing Christian, if we’re honest, it isn’t that hard to feel worthy. We measure the way we dress, what we eat, where we go, what we say, and how often we worship, becoming satisfied in our spiritual condition. While we may not go as far as to say we’re better than the person in the next pew, there’s a danger in feeling overly smug.

The Bible has several examples of people encountering God. And in most cases, they are what we would call spiritual giants—Moses, Isaiah, or Daniel. In each case they fell on their faces before God. They recognized that no matter how good their lives, how devoted their worship, or how committed their belief, it all paled in the presence of a holy God. Amazingly, the centurion, a Gentile, with little experience of God, acknowledged this very idea. That while society believed him to be a somebody, in the presence of Jesus, he was unworthy. He recognized Jesus as a higher authority.

He recognized Jesus as a higher authority.

Oswald Chambers made an interesting statement: “The greatest curse in spiritual life is conceit. If we ever have had a glimpse of what we are like in the sight of God, we shall never say ‘Oh, I am so unworthy,’ because we shall know we are, beyond the possibility of stating it.”* In other words, it’s so much a given, it isn’t even worth acknowledging aloud our sinful condition.

How do you see Jesus? How do you see yourself? These two questions are connected. Without Jesus, we are sinners in need of salvation. There is no path without Jesus. It’s only because of His life, death, and resurrection we are saved. We, like the centurion, must take the first step. We recognize our worthlessness. We then make our way to the foot of the cross, claim Jesus’ blood and righteousness, and then only through Him we are renewed.

* My Utmost for His Highest, January 12.

Digging Deeper 

Matthew 8:10 says, “When Jesus heard it, He marveled . . . .” While the gospels use words that mean “marvel” or “astonish” or “amaze,” all of them except two are said about Jesus. Only twice is the word used by Jesus Himself. This is one of them. Jesus is amazed by the faith of the centurion. The other is when Jesus is amazed at the lack of faith of the people in Nazareth (Mark 6:6).


Making it Real

While it is good to marvel at the faith of the centurion, it is more beneficial personally for us to be aware of our own worthiness before God. We can rejoice that Jesus’ death allows us to stand before a holy God, but let’s take time this week to examine our own sinful condition. Plan a time, even if brief, to bow your head in confession, asking for forgiveness, and for grace. If you wish, lie face down to do so as the prophets did of old.



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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