Claudius: The Roman Centurion with Great Faith

My name is Claudius. As a boy my family lived in Rome where my father served as an officer in the army. My father insisted I study mathematics and Greek and Hebrew, in addition to Latin.

At the age of sixteen I joined the Roman Legion and was sent to serve in Africa. After my tour in Africa was completed, I was promoted to sergeant before being assigned to a post in Spain. I married Aprilia, the little neighbor girl who used to send me love notes through my cousin, and took her with me to Spain. At first my parents resisted the idea of a love marriage as opposed to an arranged marriage, but eventually they gave in as they agreed with my choice and loved Aprilia nearly as much as I. We were hardly married a year before our first son arrived. The next two boys were born after we were transferred to Gaul.

Aprilia was always a wonderful wife and mother. During the early years of our marriage, I was required to be away weeks at a time with the legion on peacekeeping missions. Aprilia, with the help of tutors, schooled the boys in the same subjects I had studied at their age. Aprilia adjusted to the ways of whatever country we were in and always seemed happy. Even though she said nothing, I sensed that she wished she had had a daughter.

General Tiberius, who was to become Caesar, promoted me to centurion and assigned me to the command of the century stationed in Capernaum, Galilee. Not long after our arrival, Aprilia began a search for household help. Ketura, a young teenager, came looking for work as an indentured servant. She would be given a thousand leptons which she could then give to her poor family when she agreed to work for Aprilia for three years. The agreement could be continued after that, if Ketura so wished. Ketura was happy because the food and housing were better than that at home, so after her three years of servitude, Ketura agreed to work for another three.

As the years passed by, I could see that Aprilia had grown very fond of Ketura. Part of this fondness could have been elicited by Ketura's excellent work, but I wondered if the feeling was also that of a mother for the daughter Aprilia never had.

Even I began to respect the Galileans more than I had ever expected. They were a devout people and made my peacekeeping job easier because they strove to live by the ten commandments which were given to them by Yahweh through their leader Moses nearly 1500 years ago.

It has now been ten years since I took command of the hundred men in my century. Five years ago the Jews were attempting to rebuild their rather decrepit synagogue with whatever materials they could acquire. Most of the Roman tax was sent to Rome, but a portion was left with me for spending at my discretion. Because I had grown to care about the Jewish people and respected their devotion to their God, I chose to buy the material for the new synagogue. The Jewish elders seemed genuinely grateful.

Since I am a Gentile, a Jew will not enter my house, for if he does, he believes he will be defiled. I was free, however, to enter their synagogue and listen to those speaking. By listening, I was better able to understand the ways of the people I had been sent to govern.

A few months ago a Jew named Jesus moved to Capernaum from Nazareth. He spoke in the synagogue about God with an authority that no other speaker I had heard possessed. I had received reports from reliable sources that this Jesus had the power to heal the sick.

Then one spring morning I was awakened early by Aprilia who said, "I have been up all night with Ketura. Her illness has worsened, and I fear she is at the point of death"

I knew the seriousness of Ketura's condition when I saw tears in Aprilia's eyes and heard her voice break as she explained to me the situation. I also knew how important Ketura was to Aprilia and how Ketura had grown to become more of a daughter than a servant.

Remembering the reports of Jesus' healings, I called on the elders of the synagogue, asking them to go find Jesus so He could bring healing to Ketura. These good friends left immediately to find Jesus.

Not long after they left, I realized I was asking Jesus, a Jew, to enter a Gentile's home. Right away I sent other friends to tell Jesus He would not have to come but that all He needed to do was to speak a word from where He was, and my servant would be healed.

I told Aprilia about the request I had sent to Jesus, then I walked outside and down the path to the gate to receive the report from my friends. I hadn't been down there long when I saw Aprilia's profile appear in the doorway. She stepped out onto the porch and began to run down the long path. As she drew nearer, I could see a broad smile on her face. Then she threw her arms around me saying, "Ketura has had a sudden improvement. The fever has left her and she is alert and bright-eyed."

After giving Aprilia a warm squeeze, I released her and turned to open the gate for my friends who were now approaching. The leader of the group stood before me and began quoting Jesus: "I am amazed. Among all the Jews in Israel, I have not met one with such a faith as Claudius who believed I could heal from a distance. Tell him that his faith has healed Ketura."

Based on Luke 7:1-10; Matthew 8:5-13.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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