February 23, 2014

Commitment to Follow

Passage: Luke 7:1-10
Service Type:

Bible Text: Luke 7:1-10 | Preacher: Pastor Steve | Series: 40 days of Abiding
Luke 7:1 When Jesus had finished saying all this, he went back to Capernaum
Capernaum had become Jesus’ “home base” while he was in Galilee. Located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum was the largest of the many cities surrounding the lake. Far more than just a fishing village, it was the economic center of Galilee and sat near a major trade route and thus was a wealthy city. Because Capernaum had the headquarters for Roman troops, the city was filled with heathen influences from all over the Roman Empire. The Gospels do not explain why Jesus chose this city, although it must have offered good possibilities for ministry such as:
it was farther away from the intense opposition of the Pharisees in Nazareth;
it was a busy place, so Jesus’ message could reach many people and spread quickly;
it was home to several of the disciples and provided resources and support for his ministry.
Luke 7:2-3 A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.
God sometimes allows crises in people’s lives to bring them to a stronger, closer faith relationship with His Son, Jesus the Christ.
A centurion was a Roman army officer in charge of one hundred men. Often the sons of Roman senators or powerful figures would begin their careers at this level. This centurion had a slave whom he valued highly and whom he wanted to be healed.
This passage marks a turning point in Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry. Up until this point, Jesus has dealt exclusively with the Jews; here he begins to include the Gentiles. Jesus broke through all those barriers, all the way to the sick man’s need. The gospel travels well across ethnic, racial, national, and religious barriers.
Luke 7:4-5 When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us
The animosity between the Jews and the Romans was no secret. The Jews hated the occupation army; the Romans, in turn, hated the Jews. Yet in this story we find a different sort of Roman soldier — a man who seems to have been a God-fearing man.
The soldier’s confession of faith: Say the word, and my servant will be healed. His trust in Jesus serves as an excellent model for ours.
Luke 7:6-7 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed
When Jesus and the Jewish elders were not far from the house, the centurion sent another message by way of some friends: Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. He understood that since he was a Gentile, he was considered unclean by the Jews. He may also have felt himself unworthy to have Jesus enter his home, and he did not even consider [himself] worthy to come to meet Jesus.
The centurion showed that he had the true attitude of a disciple (see Peter’s response in 5:8). He called Jesus “Lord,” indicating his respect for Jesus. This Gentile understood more than most of the Jews of Jesus’ day; he saw Jesus’ superiority.
The centurion understood that Jesus needed only to say the word to heal the servant.
The concept of authority: A private does not ponder the wisdom of his sergeant’s orders before carrying them out. A captain doesn’t debate with a colonel the merits of his decisions. Soldiers respond to and obey orders from their commanding officers. Otherwise, the military would collapse in chaos and never be able to defend itself against another army. Any good military person, like this centurion, understands this implicitly. That is why the centurion was able to grasp so profoundly the authority that Jesus possessed over even diseases.
Luke 7:8 For I also 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 slave, Do this, and the slave does it.
The centurion had authority by virtue of his position. He had soldiers under him who had been trained to respond unquestioningly. He was a man set under authority because final authority rested with the Roman emperor. The emperor delegated responsibility to various officials such as this centurion. The centurion was accustomed both to obeying and to being obeyed. He may have understood that Jesus’ power and authority came from God. The centurion had absolutely no doubt that Jesus could merely speak the word and heal the servant.
There’s something about a man or woman who achieves against the odds and overcomes the obstacles. Believers must keep their trust in Christ at full strength. Reading Christ’s words and studying his amazing life will fortify your faith.
Luke 7:9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd, he said, I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel!
This Roman centurion grasped the “big picture” about Jesus’ authority. The Jews who had been looking for Jesus couldn’t see him for who he was; yet this Gentile did. That’s why Jesus was amazed and exclaimed to the crowd that he had not seen faith like this in all the land of Israel. This did not mean that no one in Israel had faith, but many did not accept the Good News (Romans 10:16).
Luke 7:10 And when the captain’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed. Luke did not even record another word spoken by Jesus, but emphasized that the centurion’s faith had been well placed. Matthew wrote that his servant was healed at that very hour (Matthew 8:13), meaning he was healed immediately.
Discussion Questions
1. Why do you think that the Centurion was so concern about a slave? What is the message we might receive from this action by the Centurion for us as believers in Jesus?
2. Do you have friends, Christian or non-Christian, from other racial and ethnic backgrounds? Are you intentional in doing this, why or why not?
3. Is it a good or bad idea to have friends or family members that you hang out with that are non-Christians? Why or why not?
4. When you read God’s commands in the Bible, or sense his leading in prayer, do you respond as automatically as a soldier under someone else’s authority?
5. What does it mean to “submit to authority” according to the Bible? Do you agree or disagree, and why?
6. Is the concept of “authority” a negative problem in the church today? Why or why not?
7. Do you carry out the Lord’s instructions as faithfully and unquestioningly as this centurion? Share examples of this in your life.
8. What does the concept of “delegated authority” mean to you? Do you regard yourself as a person under God’s authority?
9. Can you think of situations where God used a crisis in someone’s life to bring that person to faith in Christ that resulted in a true salvation experience?
10. Have you ever had a crisis in your life that the Lord used in order to help you grow closer to Him? Please share your experience with the group.

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