Biblical People

Biblical People: Centurion (1)

A centurion, a leader of one hundred soldiers in the Roman army, comes to Jesus for help. “My servant can’t move,” he says, “and is in great agony.” The centurion doesn’t ask Jesus to heal his servant.

Jesus asks him pointedly, “Do you want me to come and heal him?”

We expect the Centurion to answer just as directly and say, “Yes!” But he doesn’t. Instead he says, “I’m not worthy for you to enter my house.”

Then he launches into an explanation about what he expects. “I’m a man under authority and who has authority. I tell my men what to do, and they do it.” By implication the Centurion sees Jesus as having spiritual authority, able to just say the word and to heal the servant.

The Centurion’s faith amazes Jesus, a faith greater than anyone he has met among his own people. Jesus then launches into a teaching about who’s in and who’s out in the kingdom of heaven. It’s not what anyone anticipates, but Jesus seldom says or does what people expect.

After teaching about authority, faith, and salvation, Jesus turns to the centurion. “Go home. What you believed for has happened.”

The servant is healed right then.

Later, after Jesus dies and rises from the dead, he gives his disciples all authority to overcome the power of the enemy—the same authority he used to heal the centurion’s servant.

When Jesus gives his disciples all authority, how do we understand that? Do we have that authority today?

[Discover more about the centurion in Matthew 8:5–13 and Luke 7:1–10. Read about Jesus giving his disciples his authority in Luke 10:19.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at