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Soldiers, Slaves and Friends – Deconstructed

a Roman Legion

Yesterday in my narrative stemming from the encounter Jesus had with the centurion actually focuses more on Luke's account of the meeting in Luke 7 starting in verse 2 than from the Matthew 8 account.

The big difference in the accounts is that in Matthew’s telling Jesus meets the centurion, and in Luke, He meets the centurions friends.

You know what – I really don’t let that kind of stuff bug me. I don’t try to hide it, but by the same token it just does not bug me. I guess it could, but it doesn’t. So, blatantly ignoring that fact, I move on.

Let’s take a little time contrasting these three types of relationships the centurion is maintaining.

He has soldiers under his command.

He has servants or slaves (at least one) at his beck and call.

He has friends who will drop their agenda and help when he is in need.

It is interesting to me that these are all types of the Christian in relation to Christ as well.

I know I get over on this a bunch, but our identity in Christ is really important. If we see ourselves in an unhealthy light, we can not help but get our signals crossed in how we relate to our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Some believe it can only be one way – for example, there are many in Christ who believe the only way we can ever relate to Jesus is as slave to master. If you have followed me for any length of time, you may have picked up the fact that I endorse the idea of walking as the servant of Christ. This is an identity carried by almost every writer in the New Testament. I have written extensively about this, so I won’t take the time to elaborate further today – though you might like to check out one of these articles:


Jesus, What Are You Doing?

By the same token there are those who demand that we leave the life of the servant behind and live the life of friend, or better bride! I take up, on a weekly basis, in my Song of Songs teaching series this part.

I don't believe that we must leave one to have the other.

I believe Jesus chooses to reveal our identity to us line upon line, precept upon precept.

We enter the kingdom as servants, but we are not supposed to stay there. The life of the growing Christian is one that progresses from the fundamentals of servant hood, becoming a soldier of the cross, to friend, then son, and even bride. But these are not total transformations like caterpillar to butterfly, but rather greater levels of intimacy and proficiency.

Think of any sport, or any activity you might apprentice for. You start with the most basic practices. In baseball for example, it is throwing and catching. Long before you learn strategy, you learn how to throw with accuracy and catch anything close.

You progress to the basic rules of the game. Next, how to react in situations so as to best use the rules to your advantage. The rules protect you from unfair play, and limit you from taking unfair advantage.

Soon you’re learning “plays.” These plays combine the fundamentals of throwing and catching with logical application of the rules.

You learn to throw a double play because 1) you know how to throw and catch,  2) you know the rules and what must happen in case of a hit with a runner on first base.

Later in your career you may come to a time when you can coach or manage a team. You begin to use strategy to choose which players should play which positions. You are having a huge impact on the game with out even stepping on the field.

This does not mean you no longer can throw or catch.

So it is with us. We never leave off servant hood, but we grow in trust and intimacy.

Back to our centurion. I love that he is so devoted to his servant that he involves his friends to rescue this one.

In this encounter, I find the centurion is actually acting as a type of Christ. Christ leaving his 99 soldiers who are safe and warm in the barracks and recruiting His friends to help Him save the one slave that is in trouble.

Great picture isn’t it?

BenSee you tomorrow



Oh yeah, don't forget to leave your questions about the Bible or Christian life here:

Another Red Letter Day Q&A

0 thoughts on “Soldiers, Slaves and Friends – Deconstructed

  1. cshowers

    It is beautiful, Ben. I, too, love the fact that the centurion, who could have been like the majority, and looked at his slaves and servants as property, instead, loved his servant enough to perhaps, send his friends, then, maybe sensing the urgency of the situation, went after them to Jesus. Whatever the case, whether he himself went, or his friends did, he treated his servant with more compassion than the religious leaders of that day.

    Thanks for sharing brother - you've given me good things to think about!


  2. Larry Who

    I also have learned not to let the little differences in the story lines between the gospels bother me. After all, the Bible is to be read under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not through a narrow microscope's lens.

    1. Ben Nelson

      That's a great point. Cheryl pointed out a way both could work together, but i rarely spend the mental energy to get there. I am more like - what are you trying to say to me in this today Father.

  3. livinginobscurity

    Thanks Ben, this actually helped bring clarity to the messed up place I seem to be this week, I now think I see what the Father is doing., I am being brought deeper into an identity as daughter thus the stuff in the mirror that needs work. To possess this deeper intimacy and heart knowledge as daughter, there is deeper dying that must be done. Even though in my head I knew this, this spoke to my heart in way I could understand.
    Your comment yesterday to me was you hope you do not disappoint,
    You exceeded my expectations by meeting a need that only the Father knew I needed. Thanks for being obedient even when you were probably unaware. Those are the best times God uses us. Thanks Father for using Ben's words to drive home the truth that you will always clarify the difficulty in my life!

    1. Ben Nelson

      Now you got me all weepy - that's just not fair! thank you for your words of encouragement to me. it is such a blessing. Remember, the Father only shows us stuff He intends to fix, and give us victory in. He does not every show us stuff with the intention of discouragement. Repentance has gotten such a bad rap. - Repentance is a promise of victory! Press on kiddo. nothing but glory in this direction.

      1. livinginobscurity

        Thanks Ben, and I know this to be true. what He is showing me is for my highest good to be used in those things He's called me too. It just feels grievous to me because I want to be further along.


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