Centurion - Luke 7

Aug 31, 2021
Think of centurions as being the toughest of the tough. In terms of rank, they would be somewhat equivalent to a captain in the United States army. The typical centurion led a dangerous life because he led his soldiers in battle, and if he survived, he typically received Roman citizenship and a grant of land upon retirement. Like many soldiers of the time, they sought a calm, peaceful assignment as they approached retirement.

Very little is known about the centurion located in Capernaum. We can surmise he was there to protect the Via Maris trade route, and possibly act as an implicit threat to Herod’s nearby town of Tiberius. However, he treated the Jews and their religion with respect, which was unusual for a Roman; possibly he had become a God-follower, a person who believed in God but was not willing to become a Jew.

Since he was responsible for keeping peace, you can be sure the centurion knew all of the local leaders and kept abreast of all gossip and social news. He would have been familiar with Jesus and his healings and teachings. It was not a big leap for him to think of Jesus when his favorite servant was on the verge of death.

The healings, miracles, and resurrections of Jesus caused such a stir that he began to spend too much time doing those things instead of teaching. Desperately ill people certainly preferred healings over spiritual teaching, but Jesus was intent on healing people spiritually, too.

In Luke, this is the time when all of the attention turns from John the Baptist to Jesus. It is challenging for modern Christians to understand the importance of John the Baptist. It seems like Luke spends too much time on somebody who announces Jesus and then gets killed.

Jesus makes the effort to show the immense importance of John in preparing the way for Jesus. Jesus invokes Old Testament prophecies to show the validity of John’s message. This is important in trying to turn the Jews from the Laws of Moses to a new way of thinking. When Jesus gives John validity, it also provides validity for Jesus’ messages and claims.