THURSDAY, APRIL 25
SCRIPTURE: Luke 7:1-10
By: Jeremy Witt
In today’s reading, we see a shift in what Luke gives attention to, from his ministry focusing upon the Jews to now we see Jesus’ ministering to a Gentile. This passage is also found in Matthew 8:5-13. You should go and read that before reading further. Notice the diversity of characters in race, religion, and economics. We see Jewish elders standing up for a Gentile, which was not exactly common. We see Jews speaking up for a Roman soldier which is even more uncommon. We see the Roman centurion caring about a slave. We see a Gentile, a soldier no less, caring about his slave. The social standing of these people are nowhere near the same nor are they close in religion. Romans typically had a god for everything. We see Jesus encountered by Jewish elders. We see the Roman centurion and his trust in Jesus and care for the “lesser” person (by standards of that day), and we see Jesus crossing all these barriers and cultural norms to bring healing by His spoken word.
Pardon me as my ADD has kicked in. How did Jesus heal? He healed by His spoken Word. What does John 1:1 say about the Word? In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God and was God. Who was the Word? It is Jesus! Where was Jesus in the Creation account? Genesis 1:3 is where we see the Word appear. God spoke what? He spoke words, and what does He create? He creates light. And who is the light of the world? John 8:12 tells us that it is Jesus is the light of the world. 1 John 1:5-7 has a few words on the light as well. So Jesus truly healed the slave in Himself and through Himself as He is the Word and the Light.
Now what we also see is that Jesus affects people regardless of race as we most likely have 3 different races here with the Jews, Gentile, and slave. We see 3 different social and economic situations, and we could have 3 different religions. The intersection of it all is Jesus who brings them all together. There really is a whole lot going on in this passage that shows us how Jesus is all-powerful over the biggest social and cultural barriers. We need to see beyond these cultural barriers as well.
If you read today’s reading along with the Matthew passage, there appears to be a contradiction. However, what we miss today are the norms of the culture of that day. People of standing would send messengers to speak on their behalf all the time. It would be like an ambassador speaking for the President today. It was considered to be speaking to the person themselves when a messenger would speak. Therefore, in speaking to the centurion’s messengers, Jesus was dealing with the man himself. When the messengers speak the words from the centurion of how his servants would do this as he commanded, they were truly carrying out his instructions directly. Therefore, there is not a contradiction when we understand this practice.
In my opinion, the most amazing thing in this passage is the faith of the centurion. He was a Roman soldier which typically are viewed negatively in Scripture especially by the Jews. They would use their position and power to take advantage of the Jews. The fact that the man trusted that Jesus would not need to come to his home but only speak the words would be big for a Jew, but even more miraculous for a pagan Gentile to do. How might we better understand this? Think of him more as an atheist/agnostic who was trusting and believing in Jesus’ spoken words. Notice what Jesus says in verses 9-10. His faith was big and he trusted in Jesus more than anyone else in all of Israel. That speaks volumes on his faith.
What does this say to us? Who do you relate to most in this passage? Are you like the slave who is sick and just needs healing? Are you like the Jews who are trying to help a person? Are you like the centurion who will trust even the spoken word of Jesus? We can always go deeper into this application, but honestly, I am convicted of my lack of faith. I find myself doubting more than believing. Lord, help my faith to be more like the centurion!