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.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.