Summary: What we can learn from a Centurion about being people who ’amaze’ and please Jesus that we may commit to be like that ourselves to His pleasure and glory!
Series: Jesus’ Unexpected Heroes
“THE FAITHFUL SOLDIER”
Sunday, September 6, 2009 AM Perth Bible Church
Rev. Todd G. Leupold
As we launch a new series, I would like us to consider what does it mean to be a hero? What does or doesn’t make someone a hero in your eyes? Would everyone else agree with you? Why or why not?
A young girl in the 2nd grade was given an assignment to write about her personal hero. When he heard he had chosen him, her father was greatly flattered. Curious, he asked her, “ Why did you pick me?” With those big, tender eyes that melt every father’s heart she replied, “Because I couldn’t spell Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
We laugh, but is the criteria we apply always that much better? Are personal heroes any more well known?
What about Jesus? Could One who is Himself absolutely and infinitely perfect, good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present be astonished by someone of His own creation? If so, what could possibly constitute such a character and circumstance?
Or, to put it another way, if Jesus were to create His own human superhero, what would such a person be like?
In the next several weeks, we will look together at Scripture and see that there actually were several people who uniquely caught Jesus’ attention and received His elevated praise. As we do, I will challenge each of us to recognize what it was that so pleased Jesus and to commit to be like that ourselves to His pleasure and glory!
We begin with who I refer to as: “The Faithful Soldier.”
SCRIPTURE 1: Matthew 8:5-13
SCRIPTURE 2: Luke 1:1-10
Two Accounts, One Event
Both of these accounts refer to the same event and are confirmed God-breathed inerrant Scripture direct from God Himself.
Why, then, twice? Many accounts of Jesus’ ministry are referred to by more than one of the inspired gospel writers. Each has been inspired by the Holy Spirit in order to present these events, words and truths as seen through equal but separate and distinct perspectives.
Why does Matthew seem to indicate the Centurion came to Jesus himself, but Luke describes Jewish elders approaching Jesus in place of the Centurion and on his behalf?
Matthew’s gospel is focused on presenting Jesus as the unmistakeable Savior and King of All. As such, when describing examples of Jesus’ words and actions that particularly emphasis His unique power and authority as Savior and King, Matthew’s accounts poignantly cut right to the heart and point, eschewing any unnecessary technical details. It was also written with a Jewish audience in mind and Jewish literature and communication is known for emphasizing key points and leaving details to be understood through inference or prior knowledge.
Luke, by contrast, wrote his gospel primarily with a Gentile audience in mind. Thus, he seeks to communicate to the Greek mind, which values detailed, comprehensive, logical and orderly communication.
Luke’s thematic purpose for his gospel was to strengthen the readers’ certainty in the truth of what has been taught. This further requires a more detailed, leave little out, type of reporting.
What, then, are we to believe really happened?
As to the details, we are to accept Luke’s account that the Centurion did not come to Jesus personally, but sent the Jewish elders on his behalf. As such, they fully represented the Centurion. The reason the Centurion likely did this is that he didn’t not want to leave the side of his servant who was suffering in torment. In this time and culture (and especially among the Hebrews), this was accepted as being the same as talking directly to the principal person and Matthew’s description of the event as if it was the Centurion himself would have been a completely acceptable summary.
With this potential stumbling block explained, let us then focus in on the significance of the fact that we have here an example of someone whom Jesus Himself proclaims a hero.
HE IS JESUS’ HERO BECAUSE HE DEMONSTRATES FAITH THROUGH:
I.) PASSION FOR OTHERS
The faithful soldier’s concern is not for himself, but for another. Even more significant, it is concern for one that most would not care about so much.
In the other accounts of someone coming to Jesus for healing, the requests are for oneself, a child or parent. But, here, the faithful soldier is passionate about the well-being of his slave! A person often not seen by those of the Centurion’s stature as even being a person, but as replaceable property or at best a hired hand.
Not so the Centurion. His heart pounded with passionate concern for one he recognized as a fellow human being, regardless of status or relationship!
II.) PERSUIT OF CHRIST
The faithful soldier recognizes that there is only One who can possibly change this situation and heal this person. Only One who has the power and authority to change these circumstances. Further, even as a Gentile and occupying soldier, he recognizes that this One is Jesus of Nazareth who embodies and possesses the power and authority of God Almighty!