Anyone who has seen a parade with a loud marching band knows that walking to any other beat would take strength and commitment. The force of culture and even behavior patterns of one’s own life can be like that—powerful deterrents to a pursuit of truth. Yet one first-century Roman officer had a heart for Jesus, and he wasn’t afraid to say so. What a difference his determination made.
The Romans had military control of Israel when Jesus preached there. They permitted Judaism to continue but believed the Roman gods had divinely ordained them to rule and dominate.
Some choices that seem simple may require great courage or humility.
Luke 7:2 tells us the centurion “highly regarded” his slave—the Greek word, entimos, implies personal respect and honor. We might not expect such an attitude with regard to slavery, which in Jesus’ day was a system of power and ownership. Describe the hints this term gives you about the centurion’s character. What does it require of you, mentally or otherwise, to have high regard for someone of far humbler circumstances?
The Romans often encouraged local religions as both a political strategy and a way to keep favor with all gods. But Jewish elders told Jesus the centurion loved their nation (Luke 7:5). And the word they used—a form of agapé—was considered the highest form of love, reaching even beyond affection to self-sacrifice. What surprises does that reveal about the centurion? Can you think of difficulties this love might have caused a Roman officer? Have you ever seen such love in action?
The centurion called Jesus “Lord” and said he considered himself “not worthy” for the Savior to enter his home (Luke 7:6). Yet he admitted he was an important man in the Roman military—one who commanded great respect (Luke 7:8). What do you think he recognized in Jesus?
CONTINUING THE STORY
A gentile showing such strong faith amazed even Jesus.
Wisdom sometimes means recognizing when to discard something we’ve learned, and when to build on it.
Wisdom sometimes means recognizing when to discard something we’ve learned, and when to build on it—that’s one way the Holy Spirit helps us mature in our faith. In describing how he understood Jesus’ great power, the centurion gave an example from his military experience (Luke 7:7-8). How did that reflect wisdom?
The centurion indicated his faith came from understanding both worldly and spiritual authority (v. 8). Based on his words and Jesus’ approval, can you explain how these types of authority are similar? What effect does it have on your relationship with Jesus to think of Him in this way?
Jesus openly admired the centurion for his great faith and healed the slave from a distance (Luke 7:9-10). This shows something we find throughout Scripture: God not only requires our faith but is also delighted by it. Think of an area where you’re struggling to trust Him. How does the centurion’s faith inspire you to place everything in Jesus’ hands?
While salvation is the greatest gift of faith, Jesus has power and grace to bless in countless additional ways.
No matter what the band around you is playing, or when the noise of the past just won’t quit, be open to what Jesus has in store. Rock-solid faith is an amazing force, and it will radically transform your life if you let it.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
It’s the ultimate shout-out—a public compliment from Jesus. Imagine Him praising you to others! For an outsider like the centurion, it was rare indeed. Yet for us, as believers in Christ who’ve received His Spirit, this can be a daily reality. In fact, a passage many see as a metaphor of Christ’s feelings for His church says this: “His banner over me is love” (Song of Solomon 2:4). However, the extent to which we sense His approval can vary.
Imagine God praising you to others! For us, as believers in Christ who’ve received His Spirit, this can be a daily reality.
Christ-followers are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6 NKJV) and always approved by God. Have you sensed His banner of love over you? Describe how that feels.
Scripture indicates some of our actions will please the Lord while other deeds might displease Him. From Luke 7, we see the centurion’s great faith in Jesus’ authority brought the Lord pleasure. Thinking about times when you stepped out and acted on faith, were there ways in which you sensed the Lord’s pleasure? If you can’t think of specific instances, you may wish to ask Him. His answer might surprise you!
In this world, we can expect that there will be a cost to standing publicly for Jesus. Yet a relationship of love and respect usually goes both ways. If the Lord’s banner over you is love, how do you publicly “declare” your love for Him?
Regardless of expectations, the centurion made a public declaration for Jesus before the Lord said a word. The Roman officer’s display of courage, commitment, and respect led to a miracle from Jesus. Our Beloved wants to bless us as well.
Illustration by Adam Cruft