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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Luke 7:1-10 A Devotion


Encountering Jesus
Bible Passage – Luke 7:1-10
Focal Passage – Luke 7:2-3 “There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.”

I have read this passage several times over the years. The points I saw most often were Jesus performed another miracle and the Roman centurion had great faith. Indeed, that is what Jesus said in verse nine: “When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him (the centurion), and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’” These are undoubtedly great points to consider and are most easy to recognize.

Today as I read this passage, verses two and three made an impression on me. “Why,” you ask, “does the fact that a Roman and Jews going to Christ interest you?” First, Romans were the rulers and, often, the oppressors of the Jews. A centurion was a man who had authority over 100 men in the Roman army. He was accountable to another man who had authority over him. When a centurion gave a command, the men under his command obeyed.

The second thing we should notice is that the people the centurion sent to summon Jesus were Jewish elders. The word from which Jewish elders comes is presbuteros. This word, for the Jews meant the Sanhedrin. Let me remind you of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin consisted of chief priests, heads of the twenty-four classes of priests, elders, men of age and experience, scribes, lawyers and those learned in the Jewish law (http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/sanhedrin/). These men were well educated in Jewish law. They were a judicial body like a supreme court and an administrative council.

What is significant in these two verses is that a Roman would seek the help of Jewish elders and Jewish elders, learned men that they were, held the Roman centurion in honor and wanted to help him. Both the Roman centurion and Jewish elders were men of authority. They commanded respect and honor. The Jewish leaders taught their people to obey the LORD God, yet they looked up to this Roman. The Roman enforced the imperial laws, yet he asked the Jewish leaders for help. That these two groups would look to the other for help, compassion, and understanding is significant.

What is even more significant is that the Jewish elders would deign to recognize and approach Jesus as having power to heal. These same elders along with the Pharisees sought to trick Jesus so they could arrest him because He had too large a following. Jesus, to them, was a radical against whom they must teach. To the Roman, Jesus was a potential trouble-maker. The Romans highly regarded their way of life. They coined a term to define it – the Pax Romana. Peace was their goal in the lands they conquered and ruled. So for the Romans, Jesus was a potential dissenter or riot-maker. The Romans kept a close eye on Him to make sure His followers and the people who opposed Him did not descend into unruliness.

From this, you realize the Roman centurion and Jewish elders working together was unusual as was their seeking Jesus for His power to heal. By admitting Jesus had power to heal and that He healed the servant, they unconsciously admitted He had power from Yahweh God. If that was true, then He was either the Son of God, as Jesus confessed, or a priest/prophet. Either way, the story ended with the centurion’s slave being healed without Jesus’ presence, just His words.

This makes me consider: Does God working in my life encourage people to seek Him? In what I do, will people encounter something of Jesus? From what I say, do people ask what I believe? You understand, each of us encounter people from different faiths and lifestyles. Is there something about your life – your words, actions, and worship different from theirs so that they encounter Jesus in you?

 At some point, the Roman centurion learned about Jesus. When his favored servant became seriously ill, he knew nothing else would heal him. The centurion chose to put his faith in Jesus because of the testimony of other people. The Jewish leaders without doubt learned about Jesus. They did not want to believe in Him, but they wanted to help their benefactor, the Roman centurion. What they received was evidence once again of Jesus’ power. At some point, these two groups received information about Jesus. The Roman chose to believe and Jesus said He had not seen such great faith “even in Israel.”

We each encountered Jesus, either from testimony or firsthand experience like physical help in one’s life. Before Jesus returns to earth, everyone will have the opportunity to hear about Him. If you have not heard of Jesus before, you now have. How will you respond to Him – in faith or in unbelief. Others of us heard about and experienced Him. We became believers. Is God working in and through your life to impact people so they ask who is your God or why do you speak of act in the way you do? People can encounter Jesus through the lives of others. Will you allow Him to meet people through you? The Roman chose to believe.  His beloved servant lived. Do you choose to believe so others can be touched, too? Are you giving credit and glory to God for what He is doing in and through your life so others will know of Jesus?

Are people able to encounter Jesus through you?