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Thought for the Day by Alex Forrest (Voluntary Staff Worker)
LUKE 7:1-10 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
Outside of the big hitters in the gospel (Resurrection, Christmas, Baptism, Gethsemane etc.), this is probably my favourite moment. This centurion is an absolute hero. He’s one of a select group of people who kind of head-hunts Jesus, which is already showing extreme faith in him. He knows that only Jesus can heal his servant. I also love the way the person he wants healed isn’t a wife or child, it’s his servant. When Jairus wants his daughter healed, we know why he wants her healed … she’s his daughter. But the Centurion is acting out of love for someone who many in his time would have treated with disdain. Even in a harsh militaristic Roman world, he cares for his servants, his workers. He’s clearly got extreme respect from his ‘people’, they demand that Jesus come to heal the servant because the Centurion “deserves it”. You’re thinking, this guy’s going to be a big important tough guy when Jesus meets him. Then he approaches his house and he sends a messenger to say “Lord don’t bother with me, I don’t deserve to be in your presence”. In fact, in Luke we don’t even meet him. Such is his humility he doesn’t even deem himself worthy of meeting or speaking to Jesus. A man in a position of awesome power is quite rightly brought to his knees in front of the Lord Jesus.
And then we get to the real crux of the passage as Jesus turns to the crowd and almost publicly shames them. He turns to a crowd of people who are mostly Jewish and says no-one in Israel has shown such great faith as this Roman centurion. None of God’s chosen people that Jesus has come across, has shown as much of what Jesus is looking for as this Roman bloke. But the Romans aren’t supposed to be the ones that are being congratulated by the Messiah. The Romans are meant to be the ones that the messiah is driving out. How is he showing the faith that Jesus wants? Because God has chosen him. God is inspiring humility and compassion in his heart, and most importantly is convincing him of the power and authority of his son.
So, let’s pray for the people like the centurion in the world today. Those in political positions of power who need to be reminded of their humility before Jesus. Those in other positions of power who need to treat their employees or workers with more compassion. Or particularly those who we think would be very unlikely to ever come to faith in Christ, maybe those who we’ve given up praying for. Be encouraged by this unlikely centurion.
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