He led the charge. He was the finest of all the soldiers. A man of authority… disciplined…a man of structure…a man that commanded attention…oversaw executions…a man that killed. He ate bread with blood on his hands. This is how he fulfilled the desires of his heart. I don’t think it matters how he killed. Or, what he witnessed. I know it was brutal. No further questions. I won’t say who he killed because everyone has a family. But he killed for the state…for his government…this is a true story. Look it up.
He enforced the laws with archaic weapons of war. Some of his men were killed by casting lots, stoning, clubbed to death or beheaded. Bits of bone, thinly sliced skin, tissues, and blood vessels on the sword meant witnesses will never forget. Yet, my soldier, a man of war, was a man of great faith – the centurion. Faith – the very thing that without it…it is impossible to please God.
“After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant1 who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”
And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.
The centurion’s faith amazed, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who was this man? Who was this leader who oversaw executions but cared for a dying servant? Jesus just finished preaching ‘Love Your Enemies’ when He was met by Jewish leaders concerned about a Roman soldier, at the point of death. The Jews cared for him because he was a loyal man…a man that built their synagogue. The centurion, the least likely, not a priest, nor a prophet, nor a scribe, nor a Jew, but a Gentile, a Roman soldier…a man of faith. And, a dying servant …a symbol, a living illustration of loving your enemies.