“There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.” – Luke 7: 2-6.
The Bible has a story about a Roman centurion who had a sick slave. Luke does not tell us the name of the centurion, but a centurion was a Roman military officer who had 100 soldiers in his charge. Roman centurions were powerful people and were respected because of their position and title.
This particular centurion was compassionate. Slaves were disposable, so if one fell ill, you simply replaced them with another slave. While we don’t know the reason, the centurion valued this slave. The connection was such that the centurion used his power and influence to help the slave. The centurion was also resourceful. The centurion probably heard about Jesus healing the sick. So Jesus became the answer to helping the sick slave. So some ancient networking starts. Just like today, personal connections go a long way. The centurion sent some Jewish elders to Jesus requesting to come and heal the slave. That itself is odd. Roman soldiers and Jewish elders don’t mix.
Then he sent a group of his friends. They conveyed a message from the centurion. Basically, the centurion said, “thanks for all you are doing. I am not worthy of a person of your stature to come to my house. Simply say the word and my servant will be healed. That’s how it happens in my world; people come when I tell them to come, and people go where I tell them and do what I tell them.” When he gave orders, individuals listened. (Luke 7:6-8) The centurion trusted Jesus with the same authority.
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.” (Luke 7:9-10)
The compassion for his sick slave speaks volumes about the character of the centurion. Do we want to be known for our compassion for the least of these? Can others talk about our compassion? Like the centurion, do we have the type of connection/relationships with people that enable us to truly know them? Do we have the kind of faith that inspires us to action for the needs of our neighbors? Or do we remain complacent and unmoved by the needs of those around us? James 2:17 says, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
As the world continues to navigate life during this global pandemic, ask yourself what you want to be known for when this crisis is finally behind us. When the news or uncertainty sparks fear, turn to God. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide in every decision – no matter how big or small. In this way, Jesus followers around the world will be known as people who connected in love with others during this uncertain time.
- What is one takeaway from the story of the Roman centurion?
- What will you be known for?
- What can we do this week to connect to others?