3 When the centurion heard about [Yeshua], he sent some [Judahite] elders to Him, requesting Him to come and save the life of his slave.
So this Roman centurion heard about Yeshua of Nazareth and decided that he would send to Yeshua some of his friends who were elders in the nation of Judah. He probably reasoned, "Yeshua is from Judah. He'll listen to these elders." Notice again (as I mentioned in the last post), this centurion loved his slave. He wanted his life saved, physically.
The elders got to Yeshua and pretty much begged him to come and heal the slave of the centurion. Verses 4-5 tell us at least two reasons (probably one, branching out to two) that they felt the centurion was worthy for his slave to be healed.
1. He loves our nation
2. He built us a synagogue
We aren't specifically told if the centurion did any of the actual building (as in carpentry or stone work with his hands) or if he paid for the synagogue to be built. Either way (the latter is more likely) he was responsible for one of their synagogues. The elders of Judah looked up to this centurion because he thought enough of their nation (he obviously was not a Judahite) to build them a synagogue.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard something like this: "The church isn't the building, it's the people." I used to think that was a pretty good cliche. I've come to believe that it's not really that good at all. I'm not saying that the people aren't important; they are. But I'm also not going the say the building is not important; it is. At least if you believe Luke 7:5.
You can read through the New Testament, and you can find where people met in their homes for worship. Sure, that's acceptable, but please don't pit one set of verses against another set of verses. There are numerous verses that speak of the first century synagogue, a special place, a special building, dedicated for the purpose of worshiping the Father on new moons and sabbaths.
It is healthy to have a place that is set apart for worship. A place different than where you hang out the other days of the week. A place that is holy, so to speak, in the sense of set apart. There's a sense of awe about it. A good awe, not an idolatrous awe.
The Old Testament tabernacle is certainly not the New Testament synagogue, but in studying about the tabernacle, the building, we see that Yahweh was very particular about a special place, and special "pods" within that place, where He was to be approached.
I think that having a place, building a synagogue (like the centurion did for the nation of Judah) is a good thing to do. It's not something to be discarded with a cliche like, "The church is the people, NOT the building." No, the church is the people AND the building. This doesn't mean people cannot meet under an oak tree or in a living room. It just means that we recognize that if we have the ability, the route to take is to have a designated place of worship where our families can "escape the world" for a while and come before the King.
The answer to the above question is simple. I am a follower of Yahweh, God of Scripture. I want to love God and bring Him glory in my entire life. He gives me commandments to meet with other believers on specified days (Lev. 23) and I am told not to forsake to assemble myself with the brethren as the manner of some is (Heb. 10:25). I obey God, not out of a rigid "have to" but out of a desire or want to do so. I enjoy being obedient to the Father's word because He has given me a new heart and mind that has the propensity to do what is righteous.
Yeshua attended synagogue service on the Sabbath, and it was his customary practice (Lk. 4:16). If we are followers of him (following his example) we should do the same.
Here recently someone mentioned that the church I attended was not a Christian church. If you define Christian as someone who believes in the Trinity, lawlessness, universalism, and blind acceptance of any and all doctrines then no we are not your definition of a Christian church. The problem is that this is not the proper definition of a Christian church. People often give definitions to words that are not accurate, but far from the original, pure definition of the word. Such is the case at hand. What does the word Christian really mean?
The word Christian in our Bibles is taken from the Greek word Christianos literally meaning "a follower of the Christ." Noah Webster, in his 1828 dictionary of the English language defines the word Christian thusly under the first three headings:
1. A believer in the religion of Christ.
2. A professor of his belief in the religion of Christ.
3. A real disciple of Christ; one who believes in the truth of the Christian religion, and studies to follow the example, and obey the precepts, of Christ; a believer in Christ who is characterized by real piety.
What constitutes a Christian is someone who (1) believes in Yeshua the Christ, and (2) follows in His teachings. This is the correct definition of a Christian. Did Yeshua teach the Trinity? No. Did Yeshua teach lawlessness? No. Did Yeshua teach universalism - that every single individual could and would be saved eventually? No. Did Yeshua accept any and every doctrine that man had to offer? No. Yeshua was a strict Hebrew-Israelite follower of Yahweh. Those who truly follow Yeshua the Annointed (Messiah, Christ) are Christians.
I believe in Yeshua. I confess with Peter (Matthew 16:13-18) that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of Living God; this means that I dwell in God and God dwells in me (1 John 4:15). I also believe in the God of Yeshua, Yahweh, and quote the shema with Yeshua (Mark 12:28-32). I believe in keeping His commandments to abide in His love (John 15:9-10) just as He kept His Father's commandments to abide in His Father's love. I believe that a person who claims to know Yeshua, but is not obedient to Biblical law is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:3-4). I believe that it is only those who do the will of the Father that will be in the kingdom of Yahweh (Matthew 7:21), and that many who call Yeshua Lord, Lord will be cast away from His presence of people whom Yeshua never knew (Matthew 7:21-23).
All these beliefs stem from studying the Bible. They do not come from studying a man-made document, and ecumenical council, or a denominational handbook. These are Christian doctrines, true Christian doctrines.
I say to all those out there who may encounter others who falsely label you as non-Christian, let a person know what a true Christian is. Make sure you tell others the accurate definition of the word Christian. Don't let someone fool you into thinking a Christian is something other than what is found in sacred Scripture. Be Biblical. Look for a church that is true to the Scriptures. Look for a church who's thinking and thus theology is based upon what Yeshua actually taught. Read the gospels, believe Yeshua, and don't be worried if you end up in contradiction to the masses of people who claim to be Christian today.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.