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:
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?
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