Soldiers & the Gospel

As we study the life of Christ, we study his interaction with various individuals – children, the sick and needy, the woman at the well, the scribes and the Pharisees. This lesson is going to focus on some soldiers in the New Testament and how they responded to Christ or his message.

Four Soldiers and Christ

  • A centurion and his servant. In Matthew 8:5-11, we have recorded a centurion who pleads to Jesus on behalf of a servant. However, he does not ask Jesus to come to the servant, expressing faith that Jesus is capable of healing this servant without seeing him. This faith astonishes Jesus, and He grants the man’s request. Luke 7:4-5 records this man as respected by the Jews, but Matthew 8:10 is a profound verse – Jesus stating that none have shown faith paralleling this Gentile. Then, verse 11 foreshadows salvation for all Gentiles, all non-Jews.
  • Cornelius and Peter. Acts 10 records the tale of Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian cohort. He is described as devout, fearing God, generous, prayerful, and well-respected. An angel comes to Cornelius, and this angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter. This Peter will tell him words by which he can be saved. Note that Cornelius needs to be saved despite all the good qualities he demonstrates, and Cornelius follows this advice and sends for Peter. He waits for Peter with his household, relatives, and close friends. This is something he wants to share with others.
  • The Philippian jailer. Acts 16 tells us of a jailer set over Paul and Silas. Around midnight, while Paul and Silas are singing and praying, an earthquake comes and frees the prisoners. Seeing this potential escape, the jailer prepares to kill himself, but Paul intervenes. As a result, this jailer takes the gospel message to heart and shares this message with his family.
  • The soldier at the cross. In Matthew 27, Jesus is in the process of being crucified, and verses 50-54 record the reaction of a Roman centurion as he sees the miraculous events surrounding Jesus’ death. He sees the evidence, and he sees the authority of God behind the events.

Our Application

Every one of these men recognized and respected what it meant to have authority and to respond to authority. The centurion pleading on behalf of his servant even illustrates this point using himself as example. These individuals understood committing to a cause and taking responsibility for their actions. When they were faced with God’s authority, they understood what had to be done, and we should have the same reaction to the gospel message.

lesson by Tim Smelser