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Jesus even healed divisions with military occupiers

April 27, 2024

Daily Scripture

Matthew 8:5-13, Mark 15:33-39, Acts 11:2-18

Matthew 8
5 When Jesus went to Capernaum, a centurion approached, 6 pleading with him, “Lord, my servant is flat on his back at home, paralyzed, and his suffering is awful.”
7 Jesus responded, “I’ll come and heal him.”
8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I don’t deserve to have you come under my roof. Just say the word and my servant will be healed. 9 I’m a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and the servant does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was impressed and said to the people following him, “I say to you with all seriousness that even in Israel I haven’t found faith like this. 11 I say to you that there are many who will come from east and west and sit down to eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.” 13 Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it will be done for you just as you have believed.” And his servant was healed that very moment.

Mark 15
33 From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. 34 At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”
35 After hearing him, some standing there said, “Look! He’s calling Elijah!” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and died.
38 The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “This man was certainly God’s Son.”

Acts 11
2 When Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him. 3 They accused him, “You went into the home of the uncircumcised and ate with them!”
4 Step-by-step, Peter explained what had happened. 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying when I had a visionary experience. In my vision, I saw something like a large linen sheet being lowered from heaven by its four corners. It came all the way down to me. 6 As I stared at it, wondering what it was, I saw four-legged animals—including wild beasts—as well as reptiles and wild birds. 7 I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!’ 8 I responded, ‘Absolutely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 The voice from heaven spoke a second time, ‘Never consider unclean what God has made pure.’ 10 This happened three times, then everything was pulled back into heaven. 11 At that moment three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them even though they were Gentiles. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered that man’s house. 13 He reported to us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is known as Peter. 14 He will tell you how you and your entire household can be saved.’ 15 When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as the Spirit fell on us in the beginning. 16 I remembered the Lord’s words: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who am I? Could I stand in God’s way?”
18 Once the apostles and other believers heard this, they calmed down. They praised God and concluded, “So then God has enabled Gentiles to change their hearts and lives so that they might have new life.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

A “centurion” was a Roman invader in Israel, commanding 100 soldiers. He held military authority, but deferred to Jesus as a healing authority, sensing that Jesus’ power could heal all hurts, across all human boundaries. Scholar Craig Evans wrote of Mark 15, “The Roman centurion confesses…. Caesar is not the ‘son of God’; Jesus the crucified Messiah is…. Calling Jesus the Son of God, the centurion has switched his allegiance from Caesar, the official ‘son of God,’ to Jesus, the real Son of God.” * But it wasn’t just Romans who had to accept healing. It was hard for Jewish Christians in Jerusalem to give up their reflexive rejection of Romans. “Pressure [in Jerusalem] was mounting that would eventually lead to a massive revolt and the bloodiest and most disastrous war in Jewish history ending with Jerusalem being destroyed by the Romans in AD 70…. circumcision and the food laws… were [like] the national flag at a time when the whole nation felt under intense and increasing pressure. To welcome Gentiles as equal brothers and sisters must have looked like fraternizing with the enemy.” **

  • Wright also wrote about the scene in Mark 15: “A battle-hardened thug in Roman uniform, used to killing humans the way one might kill flies, stands before this dying young Jew and says something which, in Mark’s mind, sends a signal to the whole world…. The Roman centurion becomes the first sane human being in Mark’s gospel to call Jesus God’s son, and mean it.” *** What did the centurion see or hear that moved him to that brave, amazing confession? What leads you, like the centurion, to believe and testify that Jesus is God’s Son? Can you feel Peter and the believers’ wonder, in Acts 11, after he’d met and baptized some of the Romans who’d violently invaded their land, when he reported, “God has enabled Gentiles to change their hearts and lives so that they might have new life”? When has Jesus’ love reached astonishingly past what you expected or thought possible?


Jesus, many of the big problems in the world sometimes trouble me. My own internal struggles also trouble me. You are Lord of all—guide me through all the struggles inside me as well as outside. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Matt Bisel

Matt Bisel

Matt Bisel serves as Adult Discipleship Lead Director for all Resurrection locations. He earned a Master of Divinity degree at Saint Paul School of Theology, and in addition to his service as a pastor, he is a musician and song writer who leads worship with the COR Worship Collective. Matt, his wife Kelly, his daughter Linden and son Olly live in Kansas City, but love to travel the world experiencing new places, cultures and people.

I have never lived under military occupation. Nor have I been to a war zone or any sort of armed conflict. And I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of fear and anxiety that must pervade every waking and sleeping moment for those families caught in the crossfire. But even for those of us who live outside of these conflict zones, we experience trauma too. It seems I can’t even pick up my phone these days without being exposed to the latest breaking news showing me the latest of the broken bodies. I don’t want to look away and pretend it doesn’t exist; yet the prolonged exposure begins to wear on me. A sense of despair and anxiety settle in, and I begin to wonder, is there any hope?

When things are just so out of our control, whether that’s a big conflict happening between two countries on the other side of the world or the one happening between your heart and mind, we begin to wonder where God is in all of it. At least I do. But I try to hold onto a promise–a promise fulfilled to a Hebrew tribe in the desert, a promise made flesh in Jesus and one that is written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The promise is that God’s love is steadfast and true. Even when it seems that our world is falling apart, God’s love endures and endures forever–Spreading from heart to heart.

I recently wrote a song as a way to remind us of this promise. It’s not recorded yet, but I hope you experience God’s promise within its lyrics.

Your Love Endures Forever
By Matt Bisel

You understand our pain.
You understand the fear and doubt and shame
That stand in the way of love.
So, you write it on our hearts.
You write your love with a grace that never fades,
Always reminding us you are the same.

From day to day your love awaits,
In every breath we find your grace.

You love endures forever.
Even when it seems that all,
All the world is falling apart.
But you understand our hearts,
Every dream, every broken part
And you hold us together.

From age to age your love remains, 
Though the world will change,
And though it’s powers will rise against us.
From heart to heart your love won’t stop.
So, Holy Spirit start right here, right now among us.

Your love endures forever.
Even when it seems that all,
All the world is falling apart.
But you understand our hearts,
Every dream, every broken part
And you hold us together.
Your love lasts forever.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Craig A. Evans and N. T. Wright, Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened, edited by Troy A. Miller. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009, p. 35.
** N. T. Wright, Acts for Everyone, Part One: Chapters 1-12 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 175). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
*** N. T. Wright, Mark for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 216.