While several of Christ’s encounters with powerful people ended acrimoniously, there were notable exceptions, such as with Nicodemus. Another constructive meeting involved a Roman centurion (ranking military officer).
When the centurion learned that Jesus was approaching, he dispatched several friends to dissuade Christ from coming. Deeply respecting Jewish worship and Jesus’ spirituality, he felt undeserving of Christ’s personal attention. Finally, just before Jesus arrived, he ventured to approach Him. He explained the situation, expressing faith that Christ’s declaration alone could restore the servant. Drawing on military experience, he understood authority. He obeyed his commanding officer, and his subordinates obeyed him. How amazing that this man of power and influence (and a Roman, as well!) could show such deep faith when many who had so many more spiritual advantages spurned Jesus.
Honest self-examination is profitable here. We need to ask ourselves if we have become complacent and are merely espousing correct doctrines instead of experiencing living faith? Have newer, lesser-equipped believers nevertheless expressed deeper faith than those raised within Christianity? Have our spiritual advantages become occasions for self-dependency? Have spiritual opportunities escaped unnoticed? Whenever we answer affirmatively, Christ is the answer. Anyone can enjoy the centurion’s experience. This story should encourage those evangelizing among people in powerful positions. How many twenty-first century centurions are there? May their faith inspire and strengthen ours.
There is a power to a selflessness and self-abnegating ministry that can touch anyone of any rank or class. What of these traits do we manifest in our own lives and witness?