“And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die.
When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave.” (Luke 7:2,3 NASB)
For some people, all people are persons. For others, some people are things. This commander of 100 troops owned a slave, but thought of him as a person, a valuable person. In fact we learn that this Gentile soldier actually cared greatly for the people living in the country he occupied by force. These were not easy people to love by foreign occupation troops, but he does. And we know he is authentic in his love for them because the Jewish elders go to Jesus on his behalf.
This man, Gentile foreign occupying Roman officer, hears of Jesus. He asks the elders of Jesus’ people to ask Jesus for help, and they do. The communication with the elders wasn’t perfect though, because the Centurion then sends his friends (other Gentiles) to then stop Jesus from coming to his home. This person who had no reason to admire or respect Jesus (had heard not met Jesus) demonstrates both.
THE HUMBLE ROMAN LEADER
Beyond this, the message that the Centurion sends by the hand of his friends shows that the Centurion doesn’t see himself above Jesus, but humbly beneath the Galilean Jew. We don’t know what the Centurion had heard about Jesus, but it told him that Jesus was an Authority he should submit to. People today read more detail than he had, and they don’t get that at all. This was an astute person.
THE VALUE BEYOND PURCHASE
To return to another issue though, all this effort, while humble, while astute, is for a purchased person. There was little or no status for slaves, even among Jews. Yet this Roman officer, leader among tough men, goes through selfless effort for this person he technically owns. That the Centurion sees him as a person first and foremost is that he doesn’t seem interested in replacing him. There was an irreplaceable quality in this slave. The Centurion saw it. Slaves are not irreplaceable, but people are.
VALUE BEYOND ROLES
The point Jesus makes is the enormity of the Centurion’s faith. The point the Centurion makes is Jesus’ authority. The point I draw from these two is the value of people, all people. The Centurion is valuable and sees value in others. Jesus is priceless and sees others as priceless. The slave is priceless though bought by another. The elders are valuable though later turn against Jesus, finally killing the Son of God. The friends are valuable and carry a message they may not have understood or agreed with, to people they may not have liked.
Who are the priceless people around you who you may have missed? I’m done, so get started valuing those around you, letting them know they matter. Be a Centurion!
That’s my view through the knothole. What’s yours?