Through the Bible in One Year

Day 85

Luke 7:1-10

When He had completed all His teaching in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.

Now a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to Him, asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. When they came to Jesus, they strongly urged Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation, and it was he who built us our synagogue.” Now Jesus started on His way with them; but already, when He was not yet far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to enter under my roof; for that reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You; but just say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under myself; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. (NASB)

To truly understand what is happening in today’s passage we need to understand a little bit about how a Roman Legion was structured and organized.

The Structure of a Roman Legion

  • Contubernium (tent group): consisted of 8 men and is the smallest unit within a Roman Legion
  • Centuria (Century): was made up of 10 contubernium with a total of 80 men commanded by a centurion.
  • Cohorts (Cohort): included 6 centuriae or a total of 480 fighting men, not including officers.  In addition, the first cohort was double strength but with only 5 centuriae instead of the normal 6.
  • Legio (Legion): consisted of 10 cohorts.

Now that we understand a little bit about the structure of a Roman Legion we can turn our attention to understanding the men, who needed Jesus’ help, rank.  This man is described as a centurion. And centurions were the backbone of the Roman Army and were the career soldiers who ran the day to day life of the soldiers as well as issuing commands in the field.  They generally moved up from the ranks, but in some cases could be directly appointed by the Emperor or other higher ranking officials.  Furthermore given the respect and authority this man is described as having, it is safe to assume that he was probably the senior Centurion in his legion.

Now that we understand the background it is time to turn our attention to the spiritual aspects of today’s passage.  For you see the Jewish elders were willing to intervene with Jesus because they considered this man, this Roman Centurion, a truly worthy man.  Though he was a Gentile, he loved Israel and had spent time and money constructing a synagogue in Capernaum.  This Centurion did not consider himself worthy of being in Jesus presence, but he had faith that Jesus could heal his servant, even at a distance.  He understood the spiritual authority Jesus commanded because he understood military authority.

And Jesus was amazed that the faith of this Gentile Centurion was greater than the faith of any he had found in Israel.  This Centurion’s faith was rewarded by his servant being restored to good health by Jesus.  But what does this Centurion’s faith teach us.

Jesus was impressed by this Gentile Centurion’s faith because it combined a loving concern for another person with complete trust in Christ’s authority and power.  This story, along with Christ’s application to the unbelieving Jews, warns us that we may be held back from what God is doing by holding on to useless traditions or by failing to accept the authority and power of his kingdom.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

Deuteronomy 5-6, Luke 7:11-35, Psalm 68:19-35 and Proverbs 11:29-31

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