Summary: Only when we are willing to risk surrendering everything in life do we come close to experiencing the miracle that is God’s love in Jesus Christ. We must be willing to abandon all other authority in our lives if we are to see God move in a miraculous way.
A Soldiers Faith 2017
Today we mark Remembrance Day as a church family. It is a day that holds a unique significance for each of us.
For some it marks the Remembrance of a loved one who fell in service for their country or those who had been taken prisoner never to return.
For others it is a time to Remember how a loved one was able to return home from the battlefield and be reunited with family and friends once again. For all of us Remembrance Day serves as a time to count the great cost of war to the victors and to the vanquished.
Freedom is purchased by great sacrifice and maintained by those who stand ready to be sacrificed if need be.
Today we owe our freedom to men and women such as these and we pause to honor them and to remember and reflect on their sacrifices both past and present.
Today we want to look at an encounter that took place some 2000 years ago in Israel when it was occupied by a foreign force from Rome. The encounter involves Jesus and a Roman Centurion.
In turning to God’s word today we find that both Matthew and Luke record the event in their Gospel accounts.
They record it differently but each one including the important facts as they saw them. Luke records that the Roman Centurion first sent a Jewish delegation to Jesus before pleading his case. Matthew records that the soldier came to Jesus on his own. Both accounts can be taken to be correct as they come from two different witnesses but record similar facts.
The King James Bible says in Matthew chapter 8:5 “And when Jesus was entered into Capharnaum , there came unto Him a Centurion.” That word “beseeching” can mean to beg earnestly or ask urgently. The point being that it is a Roman Centurion who is doing the beseeching.
Here an enemy of Israel a Roman Centurion with 100 soldiers under him is hesitant to approach Jesus who commands only 12 men. The NIV Bible uses the words “The Centurion replied, “Lord I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Wow, that’s quite a statement coming from a soldier who represents an occupying army. We the readers are left to wonder how and why this Roman Centurion came to seek Jesus out. It could have been that this Centurion was earnestly seeking after the things of God even though he was surrounded by pagans and was compelled to pay homage to the Emperor as a god as well as pay respect the numerous gods of the empire. Once again Jesus reminds us not to judge a book by it’s cover.
Luke tells us this Centurion had paid to build the Jewish Synagogue in Capernaum. It is obvious that this Centurion was a religious man who favored the Jews and who in turn discovered Jesus the Miracle worker.
He may have been on crowd control at some other gathering where Jesus was present and this may have lit a spark of faith within him? We do not know how he came to faith in Christ but all we do know suggests that he came to saving faith in Jesus.
The life of this servant slave was so precious to the Centurion that he willingly humbled himself to Jesus a Jew. He gave no thought to the uniform he wore or the political animosity that he was duty bound to recognize and to enforce. A life hung in the balance, someone he cared a great deal about.
It is obvious that as a Soldier this Centurion knew the value of a single life and how needlessly death separates us from life. He had witnessed it numerous times on the battlefield with his comrades and in the course of his regular duties as well.
Soldiers place their lives on the line regularly and willingly – the Bible tells us that it was in the person of Jesus that this Centurion saw the answer to his prayers. In Jesus was the power of life and death and it is because he was a soldier that he knew and believed by faith that just a word from Jesus would make all the difference between life and death.
Jesus has an authority like none other than he had ever witnessed. This Soldier truly comprehended that Jesus held in His hands ALL Authority under Heaven and Earth. He understood authority since he too was a man under authority.
Jesus marvels at such a faith. Here a Roman Soldier put his life on the line to save a slave, a servant. If exposed it would mean his own death but he was willing to risk it for the life of his friend.