The Roman Centurion: A Gentle Witness
Faith is a word that we hear a lot. How would you define it? In this study we are going to take a fresh look at what faith is, and what faith in Jesus means in a practical way, through the witness of a Roman soldier. The setting is the Jewish town of Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus has just finished teaching about practical obedience (6:46-49). He is now interacting with a person in a crisis.
1. Have someone read aloud Luke 7:1-10. Ask the group to be noticing the different kinds of people involved in this experience.
2. Looking at the first five verses, what is interesting about how the centurion approaches Jesus?
3. This centurion is part of the Roman occupation army in Israel at the time. He had authority over 100 men. How do the people in an occupied country usually feel about the occupying army? How is this centurion unusual? Why do you think he would ask for help from Jesus? Why would he involve elders of the Jews?
4. Which words and phrases in verses 4 and 5 indicate the regard of the Jewish leaders for the centurion? Why do you think Jesus goes with them?
5. Consider the centurion’s request in verse 3. Then look at his request in verses 6 and 7. What is the difference in the two requests? Why do you think he changes what he asks?
6. Why do you think there is a contrast between the elders’ view of the centurion, verse 4, and the centurion’s view of himself, verse 6? How is he showing trust in Jesus in verse 7?
7. Contrast the authority of the centurion and Jesus in terms of origin and extent (verses 7 and 8).
8. In what ways does Jesus respond to the centurion’s faith in him? How are the different people in this account affected by Jesus’ response?
9. What evidences of true faith do you find in the centurion, from the start of the passage on through? What does this true faith look like in this passage? How is it expressed?
What are some ways we can show true, practical faith in Jesus’ care and authority? What can we trust him for this week, and how can we demonstrate our trust?
Looking back over the studies we have done so far, how has your view of who Jesus is and what it means to have faith in him grown or changed?
“Witnesses to Jesus” Bible Studies are available
Many thanks to those who gave valuable feedback in the writing and editing of these studies: the Iowa staff team led by Lindsay Olesberg, Beth Krysl, Judy Johnson, Fred Neubert, Shelley Soceka, Glen Ewart, Nancy Fox, Suzy Gaeddert, Scott Eddlemon, Ann Beyerlein, Bob Wolniak, Paula Esealuka, John Seiders and Donna Snow. Special thanks to Kathy Burrows (design) and Jeff Yourison (editor).-Bob Grahmann
Studies 5,7, and 8 are based on studies in the Bible & Life Study-Discussion Guide for Luke. Study 9 is based on a study in the Jesus the Lord study guide published by the Great Lakes West Region of InterVarsity.
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