Wednesday, February 20, 2013
A Centurion Named Julius
A Centurion Named Julius
Paul Sails for Rome
When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius.
Paul is being sent off to Rome and a centurion by the name of Julius is to accompany him. Throughout this journey we learn a little about the character of this man. Paul obviously makes an impression on him for throughout the journey Julius works to ensure the safety of Paul. At times Julius intervenes with all of the soldiers on board and gives them orders to respond to Paul. This man, a great Roman soldier, is remembered by name in the word of God because of his compassion toward a man in whom he saw a genuine relationship with Christ.
I'm writing these thoughts today from 30,000 feet in the air. I'm wondering what it would be like to be traveling as a prisoner, with someone along to watch my every move. What would my attitude be like? Would I have been a grouch all the way along? I can imagine going through security and all of the extra hassles, and people staring at you and wondering what you've done! No, I can't imagine that I'd be extremely cheerful and yet, there as someone about the way in which Paul behaved that had a direct influence on Julius. So much so that Julius began to have great faith and trust in the man.
What a lesson for us today. When faced with life's difficult moments, how do we respond? Does Jesus shine through us and would the unbelievers around us be moved to belief by the genuineness of our response? Paul had allowed Jesus to so fill him that he was genuinely Jesus, through and through in the way he reacted to the world around him. So much so that it couldn't help but have an impression on those with him. This was in the midst of dire circumstances. So what does this say to me? Even when life becomes extremely difficult it is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit to reflect Jesus to the world around us. It is this reflection of Jesus that draws people to a the transformational relationship with the Savior. The result is that evangelism is possible even in the most hostile of environments for it is Jesus that attracts. Therefore we are called to grow in grace becoming more and more like Jesus, reflecting him to our world and helping to bring people like Julius into an eternal relationship with him.
But what of Julius? Here is a Roman Centurion; a man of high standing who is immortalized in the word of God. Julius was willing to see Paul as he was; a servant of Jesus Christ. Not only did Julius see what Paul was like but we know that he came to trust Paul. He could trust that Paul was not going to run away. While not all the time, much of the time he followed Paul's advice...and he personally witnessed Paul's ability to perform miracles. And all of this seemed to have a profound effect on him. Julius was a changed man.
Was it a chance encounter or had God orchestrated the events that would bring two men, Paul and Julius together. The journey would be significant for both of them, but probably more so for Julius. Paul was now accustomed to living his life daily in obedience to God and recognizing that his life was simply a tool in the hands of God. But for Julius the encounter with Paul was an encounter with God and he would never be the same. He was simply a centurion named Julius. Who am I?
Lord, I want to be like you through and through so that you are reflected in me in all things. Amen.