This month’s blog will be a little different as I will be reposting someone else’s work.
During the summer months we have been taking the kids through a deeper understanding of leadership and teamwork. In doing so I was preparing a message on the faith of the centurion.
It’s amazing how you can read the bible and always find something new, or maybe something you haven’t noticed before. This time, for me, it was what I assumed to be a contradiction. Matthew and Luke both tell the story of the centurion, however one says he personally came to Jesus and the other says they never even met.
As I began to investigate this “contradiction” further, I came across an article in the Apologetics Press by Jim Estabrook. After I read it, the word “authority” became more relevant to me than it ever had before. I would like to share a portion of what he wrote.
Did Jesus and the Centurion Speak to Each Other Personally?
By Jim Estabrook
On one occasion when Jesus entered Capernaum, He was asked to heal a certain centurion’s servant. Skeptics allege that a contradiction exists between Matthew’s account of this story (8:5-13) and Luke’s account (7:1-10). Whereas Matthew’s account says, “a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him” on behalf of his servant, Luke recorded that “he [the centurion] sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant.” Since Matthew seems to indicate that the centurion personally came to talk to Jesus, and Luke’s account says that the centurion sent others to plead with Christ, skeptics contend that the two accounts are in no way harmonious. Rather, they (supposedly) represent an obvious contradiction, and thereby serve as proof that the Bible is not the infallible Word of God.
Those who claim that such differences represent legitimate errors fail to realize that the Bible often gives “credit” to one in authority, even when others do the work. For example, when John wrote, “Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him”, he simply meant that Pilate ordered it to be done. Likewise, when the text says that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, it means that His disciples baptized more than John. In fact, the apostle John clarified this when he wrote, “Though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples”. Throughout the Bible, people are sent to speak on behalf of a person, and sometimes the text indicates that the person in a position of authority actually spoke for himself when, in fact, that person was not even present. The liaison that spoke was doing so with his authority. Today, as in times past, courts of law hold that “what a man does through a duly constituted agency, he himself actually and legally does”. When the President sends staff members to speak around the world on his behalf, he is the one responsible for the decisions rendered in his absence. In the same way, the centurion sent others to talk to Jesus on behalf of one of his servants. Matthew simply used a common form of speech where one attributes a certain act to a person— an act that is performed not by him, but by his authority.
Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 are in no way contradictory. By understanding that Luke simply was more specific than Matthew and that Matthew used a common form of speech, it is clear that the two accounts are harmonious.
So who is Jim Estabrook you may ask, I have no idea. He did write a good article though, and I for one will be more intentional with my words and the authority that goes out from me. How about you?