Below are Dan’s notes from last Sunday’s Discovery Hour and here is the passage from the parallel Bible (i.e. the handout).
Centurion: officer in the Roman army
Harmonization: the process of taking parallel accounts in Scripture and reconciling the apparent discrepancies under the assumption that each account is historically accurate, having been faithfully recorded by each author as moved by the Holy Spirit
I. Is it possible to be 100% neutral? What are some blatant examples that you have seen of not being neutral (no political talk)? Do Christians have an agenda?
II. Read the text, both Luke and Matthew. Look for a major difference or contradiction between the two accounts of this story.
III. Did anyone find the contradiction? How might we explain this? (Matthew records the event as though the centurion came directly to Jesus while Luke records two sets of intermediaries coming to Jesus on behalf of the centurion)(In the Luke the centurion actually says that he is not worthy to come)
————— Alternative explanations:
1. Q source
2. When the President of the United States says something through his press secretary and it is reported by the press that he said it, no one accuses the press of an inaccuracy.
Matthew: the faith of the centurion, the authority of Jesus to heal, and the eschatological plan of God that includes believing Gentiles in His kingdom and excludes unbelieving Jews from it; chiefly interested in the centurion as a Gentile whose faith is a rebuke to unbelieving Israel
Luke: focuses on the humility and faith of the centurion, as well as the fact that he is a Gentile well-esteemed by Jewish leaders and commended by Jesus; interested in the person of the centurion himself
IV. Given these bases for writing, how does the author’s version of the story further their purposes?
For Matthew, the record of the intercession of the Jewish elders and friends is not only irrelevant, but might actually be misconstrued by his Jewish readers as a proof that the centurion’s faith leaned upon Israel for support.
V. We often look at God in one of two ways: Big guy in the sky or My Buddy Jesus. How has your faith foundation tended towards one of these two directions?
VI. Luke focuses on the humility of the centurion before Christ. We see the centurion’s respect for Christ in his wavering contact with him. How might we prefer reputation and prestige over humility before Christ?
Possible Consolidated Final Version:
The centurion had a dying servant who was dear to him. Having heard of Jesus’ healing ministry and having believed in Him, he knew that the Master could heal the boy. Yet, the boy was paralyzed by illness and great agony and unable to be moved. The centurion, being a Gentile and understanding that Jesus was from God, could not see himself going directly to Jesus to ask on behalf of this servant nor having Jesus come to his home. He could, however, summon some Jewish leaders of the synagogue which he built at his own expense, to go on his behalf. They did and Jesus began to return to the house with them.
As Jesus came near, the centurion was horrified that Jesus might actually come under his roof. So he sent some friends to explain his case. As they went and engaged Jesus, the centurion while watching could contain himself no longer. He overrode his conviction about not being worthy to go and went anyway. When he reached Jesus, he stated directly the seriousness of the matter, perhaps to justify his coming against his conviction. Jesus, having heard once already that He need not be present to heal the boy, elicited the response directly from the lips of the man himself. Now, having heard it twice, once indirectly and once directly, He turned to those who had been following Him and made the statement comparing the centurion’s faith to any that He had seen thus far among the people of Israel – His people who should have recognized Him. He made it once and then emphatically restated it. The unabashed faith of this Gentile centurion prompted Jesus to teach about the nature of those who will enter the kingdom and those who will be left out. People of faith will be included, people who depend on heritage and works will be excluded.
Taken from: The Master’s Seminary Journal (Spring 2006) 35-50.
Luke 7: 36-50 Jesus and the woman caught in adultery