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Monday Aug, 17

Monday Aug, 17

The Roman Army Officer

Read Matthew 8:5-13 (see also Luke 7:1-10). What does this story teach us about how even the largest cultural divides can be breached for the sake of the gospel?

In Capernaum a Roman officers of centurion rank (commander of 100 men) sought out Jesus. The Jews resented the occupying Roman army, and many Romans hated the Jews. Despite this cast cultural and political divide, we can see the close relationship here between this Roman and the Jews.

In Luke’s account, he said that the centurion went to the “elders of the Jews: (Luke 7:3, NIV) to ask them to bring Jesus. And, fascinatingly enough, they did just that, asking Jesus to come heal the man’s servant. Who were these elders? The texts didn’t say, but they seemed to have related to Jesus differently that did some of the other leaders.

Meanwhile, the centurion was obviously a man of faith; his words to Jesus, “speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed” (Matt. 8:8), were an incredible testimony to his belief in Him. The centurion “did not wait to see whether the Jews themselves would receive the One who claimed to be their Messiah. As the ‘light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (Joh. 1:9) had shone upon him, he had, though afar off, discerned the glory of the Son of God. – Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 317.
The centurion understood and respected Jewish religious sensitivities.  He knew that according to law a Jew was not allowed to enter a Gentile’s house; so, he requested that Jesus minister from a distance. The servant was healed. The faith of the Gentile centurion was rewarded. Jesus pointed out that the centurion was a prototype of the great day when people from all over the world would join the patriarchs at the Messianic banquet.

Whatever else one can take from the accounts of this healing, we can see that vast cultural divides were not able to keep the Jews and this Roman apart. What lesson can we take form this about how we must learn to transcend whatever cultural difference we can (in good conscience) in order to reach out to others?

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