“The Oppressor” - Pastor Mike Larsen
“When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly’” (Matt. 8:5–6).
Jesus heals the leper, who is the ultimate outsider, and now he is approached by a different kind of outsider—a gentile Roman centurion soldier. According to Jewish thinking, this centurion was the wrong race, and he wore the wrong uniform. Here again is a very unusual encounter with Jesus.
Here is the principle for today: Jesus delights in giving Grace to his oppressors.
Roman centurions were loyal to Caesar alone and known for oppressing the Jewish people, so it is a surprise that he addresses Jesus as Lord, not once but twice in the text. For this man to call Jesus Lord is to give up his loyalty to Caesar, and this would’ve been treason punishable by at the very least, a good beating and imprisonment or at the very worst, death. What stands out as even more unusual is the appeal on behalf of his paralyzed servant who was a slave in his home. This is an unusual request because slaves in the Greco-Roman age were treated with the same regard as animals. If a slave was sick, then the slave owner would kill him and move on. This appeal proved that the centurion had a change of heart. He was much like Jesus, a loving and compassionate man who even wanted the best for his servants. Those who are socially treated like animals. Jesus marveled at this man’s faith and responded by saying, “I will come and heal him” (Matt. 8:7).
Here, Jesus is breaking down cultural barriers by agreeing to go to this Gentile’s house. According to Jewish leaders, it was forbidden to enter into a Gentile’s house—much like the days of segregation in our own country. There was a time when blacks and whites did not eat in the same places or drink from the same fountains. The same was true between the Jews and the Gentiles. A Jewish person would not dare to be seen in a Gentile’s home. Jesus is willing to cross over that line when he says, “I will come and heal him.” To be like Jesus is to delight in giving Grace to our oppressors and to be willing to reach across cultural barriers for the sake of seeing more people healed.
Be More Like Jesus!
HOW TO PRAY:
Pray for peace in Bellflower
Pray that God would show you how to love, respect, and appreciate the Image of God in people from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds
Luke 15:1-10 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
About the Author: Mike serves as the Lead Pastor of Encounter Christian Church in Bellflower, CA. Husband to his amazing wife Sheila. Father of Daniel, Steven, and Mikey and grandfather to Cenovia Rae.