Summary: Jesus cares for all without exception! (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Matthew chapter 8 verses 5 to 13:
The Canadians tell this story about their American neighbours.
• When NASA first started sending up astronauts,
• They quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity.
• To combat the problem,
• NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity,
• It also upside down, underwater,
• on almost any surface including glass;
• And at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 C.
• The Russians overcame the problem by using a pencil.
The Americans are considered to be the most powerful nation in the world;
• 2,000 years ago that title went to the Romans.
• They ruled the world and had the greatest army on planet earth!
The central character in this story:
• Was a Roman soldier.
• I want to point out 4 things about him.
(1). He was a centurion (vs 6a):
“When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.”
• As soon as you speak the word centurion you here the word century in it,
• A centurion commanded a 'cen-tur-i-a', which was up to a hundred men in his company.
• A centurion was the equivalent of a regimental sergeant-major;
• And the centurions were the backbone of the Roman army.
• Centurions carried out specialised duties:
• For example quelling riots that had broken out in a city.
• They performed various police duties.
• And later in Matthew’s Gospel they would be in charge of the crucifixion.
QUOTE: Polybius, the historian, describes their qualifications.
• “They must be not so much" seekers after danger as men who can command,
• Steady in action, and reliable;
• They ought not to be over anxious to rush into the fight;
• But when hard pressed they must be ready to hold their ground and die at their posts. "
Centurion's had the reputation for being notoriously harsh and merciless men:
• Just as regimental sergeant-major today;
• Are not known as pussy cats (soft walk over);
• Neither were the Roman centurions,
• That's why they were the backbone of this great army.
• Yet strangely in the New Testament the Roman Centurions are always spoken of well;
Quote: F D Gealy,
• Notes that they were probably the most important single position of authority;
• Within the Roman fighting machine because
• ‘The discipline and efficiency as a fighting unit depended on them’
The point I want to make is this:
• This soldier would normally have been self-sufficient.
• His men came to him for answers he need not go to anyone else.
• For him to approach Jesus;
• Meant he had to swallow his pride.
• Because he would have to come to Jesus publicly;
• In front of Jewish onlookers – reputation would be shot!
• He could also be very easily rejected by Jesus;