Letter Twenty Nine
Imagine you were one of the women followers of Jesus during his three-year ministry on earth. What would it be like as you heard his teachings, walked by his side, and watched his ministry?
I find myself being more introspective. If I am not listening and observing Jesus, I am thinking about the things he has said. His words often lead me to evaluate my own heart and actions. It seems that he fears no one and loves everyone. Today, a centurion came to him asking for help. Most of us Jews do our best to avoid these Gentile soldiers of the Roman army for fear that they will bring some harm to us or our family. But not Jesus! He listened to the soldier’s troubles and then immediately made himself available to help.
How often I put up walls to certain people whom I think could hurt me or inconvenience me.
I am beginning to recognize that when I first encounter people, I am thinking more about myself than I am about how I can serve them. On the other hand, Jesus seems to be completely focused on the needs of the other people regardless of who they are, how much they may demand from him, or how they may positively or negatively influence his reputation, comfort, or schedule. No matter how busy we are or how many people surround us, Jesus always has time to care for the individual in need.
The centurion who approached Jesus was an unusual man. He came to Jesus because his servant was paralyzed and suffering greatly. I was surprised as I know by Roman law, masters have the right to kill their slaves if they no longer can work due to an injury or illness. This man showed great love and compassion for his servant. Not only that, he expressed deep respect and faith in our Teacher. He said: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” He acknowledged that Jesus was a man under the authority of God the Father, yet, having authority over others to heal. Our Master declared: “I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
On so many levels, Jesus astonished us by this whole encounter. Demonstrating love for one whom most Jews hated. Healing someone without even being near them. Finally, telling us that some Jews will not enter the Kingdom of God but implying that this Gentile centurion will rest eternally in heaven. Our Lord is turning our religious world upside down. Oh sister, pray that I will be a faithful follower of Christ. I never thought I would say that I wished I had the faith of a Roman soldier!
Learning from Jesus,
your Big Sister
Today’s Bible Reading: Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10; Philippians 2:3-4
Today’s Application: Pay attention over the next few days to your thoughts and feelings as you encounter people. This includes family members, people at work or school, people around you as you shop, travel, and go about your day. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to put their needs above your own. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).