The Centurion’s Legacy
One of the most noble and amazing characters in the Gospels is a nameless person known only for his compassion, great faith, generosity and sacrificial love, ie. the Centurion of Luke chapter 7 and Matthew chapter 8.
He was a Roman army officer representing the occupying force that was oppressing Israel at that time. However, his love and noble virtues were obviously well known by the local Jewish community. So much so that the elders of the synagogue in Capernaum were prepared to go, on his behalf, to Jesus to plead with him to come and heal the Centurion’s servant saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him,” (Luke 7:4, ESV)
The delegation of Jewish elders then gave Yeshua two reasons, that are often overlooked, as to why the Centurion was deserving. They say: “for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” (Luke 7:5, ESV)
This Gentile, Roman army officer loved the God of Israel and the People of Israel so much that he was prepared to build them a synagogue that he himself could not be a member of. Now that is real love and amazing commitment. His love and faith was demonstrated by his action.
Later in the story, Yeshua commended him as a man of great faith;
“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.” (Luke 7:9, ESV)
Visiting Capernaum today, you will be able to see the ruins of the ancient synagogue built upon the foundations of the synagogue that the Centurion built for the Jewish people.
This Centurion has left us an enduring legacy of love, faith and generosity that has spanned two thousand years, and is recorded for us in God’s eternal Word. His good deeds continue to challenge us today.