Saint John Chrysostom on Matthew 8, Homily 26

Johnchrysostom“But say in a word only, and my servant shall be healed.”

See this man also, how, like the leper, he has the right opinion touching Him. For neither did this one say, “entreat,” nor did he say, “pray, and beseech,” but “command only.” And then from fear lest out of modesty He refuse, he says,

“For I also am a man under authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this man, go, and he goes; and to another, come, and he comes; and to my servant, do this, and he does it.” Matthew 8:4

“And what of that,” says one, “if the centurion did suspect it to be so? For the question is, whether Christ affirmed and ratified as much.” You speak well, and very sensibly. Let us then look to this very thing; and we shall find what happened in the case of the leper, the same happening here likewise. For even as the leper said, “If you will” (and not from the leper only are we positive about His authority, but also from the voice of Christ; in that, so far from putting an end to the suspicion, He did even confirm it more, by adding what were else superfluous to say, in the phrase, “I will, be thou cleansed,” in order to establish that man’s doctrine): so here too, it is right to see whether any such thing occurred. In fact, we shall find this same thing again taking place. For when the centurion had spoken such words, and had testified His so great prerogative; so far from blaming, He did even approve it, and did somewhat more than approve it. For neither has the evangelist said, that He praised the saying only, but declaring a certain earnestness in His praise, that He even “marveled;” and neither did He simply marvel, but in the presence also of the whole people, and set Him as an example to the rest, that they should emulate Him.

Do you see how each of them that bore witness of His authority is “marveled at? And the multitudes were astonished at His doctrine, because He taught as one having authority;” Matthew 7:29 and so far from blaming them, He both took them with Him when He came down, and by His words of cleansing to the leper, confirmed their judgment. Again, that leper said, “If you will, you can make me clean;” Matthew 8:2 and so far from rebuking, He on the contrary cleansed him by such treatment as He had said. Again, this centurion says, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed:” Matthew 8:8 and “marveling” at him, He said, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

Now, to convince you of this by the opposite also; Martha having said nothing of this sort, but on the contrary, “Whatsoever you will ask of God, He will give You;” John 11:22 so far from being praised, although an acquaintance, and dear to Him, and one of them that had shown great zeal toward Him, she was rather rebuked and corrected by Him, as not having spoken well; in that He said to her, “Said I not unto you, that if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?” John 11:40 blaming her, as though she did not even yet believe. And again, because she had said, “Whatsoever You will ask of God, He will give You;” to lead her away from such a surmise, and to teach her that He needs not to receive from another, but is Himself the fountain of all good things, He says, “I am the resurrection and the life;” John 11:25 that is to say, “I wait not to receive active power, but work all of myself.”

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