The Righteous Roman
The Righteous Roman is a sermon teaching us that God wants people throughout the world to hear the gospel and be saved. Christians should care for others and have great faith like the Roman centurion.
The Romans in Israel
In the days of the New Testament, Herod’s Temple contained many courts where people could gather, including the Court of the Righteous. A righteous gentile is one who believed the one true God of Israel. They could worship in the court but could not enter other parts of the Temple. In modern times, the righteous gentiles were those who helped the Jews during the Holocaust and are remembered at the Holocaust memorial in Israel.
During the time of Jesus, the Romans occupied all of Israel. It was unlawful for a Jewish person to enter the house of a gentile. But how could a man that was an officer of the Roman army be considered righteous? A Roman would consider themself a superior person. But in other instances, a Jewish person would be considered superior particularly, spiritually because the Romans, after all, were idolaters. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Romans were still in charge.
During this time there were individuals who led people called zealots wanting to drive the Romans out. Today, we would call them insurgents. They were never able to do it. Then Jesus came and drew thousands but he never worked to drive out the Romans. Some were content with the way things were under Roman rule, but others wanted Jesus to drive out the Romans. But He never intended to do so.
The Righteous Roman According to Mark
In Mark’s account of when Jesus entered Capernaum in Galilee, a centurion, a Roman officer, pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant. He must have heard that Jesus could heal the sick and maybe knew more about Jesus as well. The centurion was very concerned and had compassion for his servant who was stricken with illness. Jesus said He would come and heal the servant. The centurion said “Lord,” a title of respect of someone having authority over him. This Roman officer said he was not worthy to have Jesus come into his house and to just say the word to heal the servant.
When Jesus heard this, He marveled. Jesus was taken aback by what this man said. Jesus was impressed with this man’s faith and said to those that followed Him that He did not see such faith in all Israel. Jesus came as the Messiah, preaching, teaching, healing, and living among the Jewish people, but it was this Roman, part of the oppressing army, that showed such great faith. This man represents a country known for its idolatry, even Caesar expects to be worshipped as a god. Jesus should have found this great faith in Israel, but instead, found it in a Roman gentile.
Jesus tells His followers that many will come from all over the world and will be with the great Jewish patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. “The kingdom of Heaven” is not expressed anywhere else in the Bible except in the Gospel of Matthew and refers to the kingdom of the Messiah. They will become citizens of that kingdom from every tribe, race, and nation. There will be gentiles in Heaven with the patriarchs while those unbelieving children of Israel are in Hell.
It is through faith that you become a child of God. It is by faith your sins are forgiven. You could be of the best lineage possible here on Earth, but if you don’t have faith, you are lost. He is not writing off all Israeli people but is drawing a line of demarcation at faith. Jesus tells the centurion to go his way and because of his belief, so it would be done to him. Jesus is recognizing faith. As the centurion goes home, his servant is healed, just as he believed would happen. The centurion’s prayer was answered because he believed. Faith is the key to all of this.
The Righteous Roman According to Luke
In Luke’s account, the centurion sent the elders of the Jews to fetch Jesus to come and heal his servant. This is in more keeping with the relations between the Romans and the Jews at the time. The elders were speaking to Jesus on behalf of the centurion. When the elders came to Jesus they said that the centurion was worthy and to come into his house because the Roman officer loved the Jewish nation and built a synagogue for them, probably the same one where Jesus spoke in Capernaum.
Jesus went with them to go to the centurion’s house and as they came near, the centurion sent friends to Jesus to deliver the message that he was not worthy to have Jesus come into his house. The centurion sent his words to Jesus by other men because he felt unworthy to speak directly. Jesus marveled at the words and said that He had not seen such great faith in all of Israel. And when the friends returned to the house, the servant was healed.
God created all mankind on the Earth so that all could come to worship Jesus by faith. It happened then and is happening even today. People are being reached all over the world through missionaries or others spreading the word and giving testimony. God’s prophesy is being fulfilled that people from all over the world would come to worship the Lord. God is going to get His work done and it’s not limited to a nationality. God wants all people to hear the gospel and wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
The centurion represented the empire of Rome. He was righteous not because he was a Roman, neither did being Roman prevent him from being righteous. He became righteous as anyone can be made righteous and that is through faith. When he trusted Jesus, the Lord received him. The centurion’s only concern was for someone who could do nothing for him. That’s what believers should be like, having concern for others who can’t do anything in return. We can learn from this Roman but even better is to be like Jesus. Have faith like the Roman, care like the Roman, but be like Jesus is the goal for every Christian.
The Righteous Roman sermon starts with verses from Matthew 8:5-13:
5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
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