The Misrepresented Request: Luke 7:1-10

Focus Passage: Luke 7:1-10 (GNT)

When Jesus had finished saying all these things to the people, he went to Capernaum. A Roman officer there had a servant who was very dear to him; the man was sick and about to die. When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and begged him earnestly, “This man really deserves your help. He loves our people and he himself built a synagogue for us.”

So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the officer sent friends to tell him, “Sir, don’t trouble yourself. I do not deserve to have you come into my house, neither do I consider myself worthy to come to you in person. Just give the order, and my servant will get well. I, too, am a man placed under the authority of superior officers, and I have soldiers under me. I order this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; I order that one, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and I order my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

Jesus was surprised when he heard this; he turned around and said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, I have never found faith like this, not even in Israel!”

10 The messengers went back to the officer’s house and found his servant well.

Read Luke 7:1-10 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Something that I notice when reading the gospels is how the different details that each gospel writer includes helps to change and amplify the story in my mind. It is the case in the event where a Roman officer living in Capernaum requests healing for his servant.

While this event is included in both Matthew and Luke’s gospels, only in the gospel of Luke do we see something that Matthew likely abbreviated to simply save space. In Matthew’s gospel, the Roman officer comes personally, while in Luke, the Roman officer sends Jewish elders from the synagogue.

What really jumps out at me in this unique detail is how these elders frame the officer’s request. Luke tells us that these elders come to Jesus and beg Jesus to come by saying, “This man really deserves your help. He loves our people and he himself built a synagogue for us.” (v. 4b-5)

The officer simply asks for Jesus to come and heal his servant, but the request these elders make is that this officer “deserves” Jesus’ help because he loves the Jewish people and he built their synagogue. Chances are that this was not how the Roman officer wanted his request framed.

Did Jesus bend to the request of these elders because this Roman officer “deserved” God’s help?

It is unlikely, because none of us deserve anything good from God. We have all sinned and broken God’s rules, and we all deserve punishment from God more than blessing. Jesus didn’t accept the officer’s request because of how the elders framed it – He accepted it because of what would happen next.

While on the way to the officer’s home, another message arrives. Perhaps someone had ran ahead and told the officer what had happened and what was said. Not wanting Jesus to really get the wrong idea, or for anyone to think that this request was framed with an immature attitude of entitlement, the officer sends some of his friends with a new message that began by saying, “Sir, don’t trouble yourself. I do not deserve to have you come into my house…” (v. 6b)

While the Jewish elders felt that this officer “deserved” to have Jesus help him as a thank you for what he had done for them, this Roman officer did not feel this way. This officer knew Jesus was different, special, significant, and perhaps even holy, and that he was truly unworthy to have Jesus enter his home.

It is the same way for us today. We might feel as though God owes us something, but if we travel down that path of thought too long, we will end up bitter towards God. God does not have a debt towards us – it is really the other way around. We have a debt called sin that is owed to God. Jesus came to pay that debt for us. Jesus’ sacrifice frees us from the debt and allows us to have a restored relationship with God – a relationship that is not based on feelings of entitlement. Salvation (i.e. God’s help) is a gift we have been offered – not something we are entitled to receive based on what we have done or have not done. The Roman officer understands this, while the Jewish elders missed it.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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