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The Faith of the Roman Centurion

In addition to teaching and healing, Jesus also gathers disciples, who are simply students or apprentices. Their classroom is the world—hillsides and beaches, homes and country roads, fields and city streets. Their subject is life—life in the kingdom of God. Jesus has many students, both men and women, but He forms a special inner circle known as “the twelve.” The number “twelve” is highly symbolic because the Jewish people were originally composed of twelve tribes. However, over the centuries, some of the tribes were decimated. By calling together a new twelve, Jesus seems to be dramatizing a new beginning for the people of God. The original twelve tribes found their identity in the law of Moses, but now Jesus is giving a new way of life for His twelve to learn and follow.

Jesus shared all these sayings with the crowd that day on the plain. When He was finished, He went into the town of Capernaum. There, a Centurion had a slave he loved dearly. The slave was sick—about to die— so when the Centurion heard about Jesus, he contacted some Jewish elders. He sent them to ask Jesus to come and heal his dear slave. With great emotion and respect, the elders presented their request to Jesus.

Jewish Elders: This man is worthy of Your help. It’s true that he’s a Centurion, but he loves our nation. In fact, he paid for our synagogue to be built.

So Jesus accompanied them. When they approached the Centurion’s home, the Centurion sent out some friends to bring a message to Jesus.

Message of the Centurion: Lord, don’t go to the trouble of coming inside. I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. That’s why I sent others with my request. Just say the word, and that will be enough to heal my servant. I understand how authority works, being under authority myself and having soldiers under my authority. I command to one, “Go,” and he goes. I say to another, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my slave, “Do this,” and he obeys me.

Jesus was deeply impressed when He heard this. He turned to the crowd that followed Him.

John, it seems, is having second thoughts. Is Jesus really the One we have expected? Is He the Anointed One? But who can blame John for these doubts? After all, John is in prison, unjustly held by a corrupt, immoral ruler. Ultimately the desert prophet will have his head severed from his body when the drunken, lusty king makes a silly promise in front of dinner guests. So who can blame John for seeking assurance from the Lord? Jesus, realizing fully the kinds of expectations others have, gently reminds John and his disciples of the Scriptures: “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead live, and the poor receive the good news.” Luke doesn’t say how John responds to the report as he nears his own end. What is clear is that Jesus has the utmost respect for His colleague and cousin. He doesn’t reject him for his doubts but tries to send him reassurance.

Jesus: Listen, everyone. This outsider, this Roman, has more faith than I have found even among our own Jewish people.

The friends of the Centurion returned home, and they found the slave was completely healed (vv. 1-10).

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Categories: jesus, luke
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  1. June 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm

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