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BACKGROUND: The centurion had enlisted himself for King Herod’s mercenary army and was living in Capernaum. All the soldiers of Herod’s army were foreigners and idolaters. John the Baptist had given them this warning: “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14) A centurion commanded about 100 soldiers. The centurion was clearly interested in Judaism, but without circumcision it was impossible for him to be accepted into God’s holy people. His servant, in contrast, was a Jew. Take note that no devout Jew ever set foot in a gentile home.

Verses 1-2
• Try to imagine the difficulties that the invader troops must have faced in the foreign country.

• In what kind of situations could the invaders get to know the locals?

• How may the differences between the religions have impacted the relationship between the invaders and the Jews?

• In what kind of conflict was the centurion’s servant constantly living?

• Think about different reasons for the officer to hold his servant in such high regard.

Verse 5.
• The officer was born a pagan and an idolater. How do you think he became interested in the God of the Jews that cannot be seen?

• What may have been the reason for the foreigner officer to be so attached to the Israeli people? Think about different possibilities.

• It must not have been cheap to build a synagogue. Try to guess how many months’ wages the centurion had donated to the building.

• Why did the centurion invest so much money in a synagogue the services of which he could not attend?

Verse 3-4
3. *Jewish elders usually never associated with mercenaries – and they were hardly any fans of Jesus. Why did they then agree to act as messengers for the officer?

• Why did the officer not go to Jesus and say to him: “Do as I say because I built a synagogue in your town”?

Verses 6-7
4. *Compare the perception that the Jews had of the centurion (verse 4) with his perception of himself (verse 6). What is the difference and where does it stem from?

• What does it say about Jesus that he followed the Jewish elders to a foreigner’s home without any objection?

• What may have been the reason for the centurion to feel unworthy of receiving Jesus at his home?

• The centurion says to Jesus: “Just say the word, and let my servant be healed.” (NIV) Do you believe that Jesus only needs to say one word to solve your most difficult problem?

Verse 8.
• What did the centurion believe to have in common with Jesus?

• What made the centurion understand that Jesus was the Lord, commander of an invisible army?

• Why did nobody else see Jesus as the Lord, colonel of an invisible army?

• Apply verse 8 to the person you are worried about today. How do the prayers impact his or her life?

Verse 9
• The Gospels only tell us about two times when Jesus marveled at somebody’s faith. Why was the faith of the centurion more admirable than that of the Israelis?

• Do you think that the man knew he had great faith? Why or why not?

• What were signs of the centurion’s great faith?

• What would your life be like if you had this kind of faith?

Verse 10
• How did the servant actually heal?

• Jesus never met the officer during this incident. What do you think their relationship was like from now on?

GLAD TIDINGS: When he was arrested, Jesus said that he could have summoned 12 legions of angels to his aid (one legion comprises of 6000 soldiers). Why did he then let himself to be captured, tortured, and killed by only a few soldiers?


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