The story of Jesus healing the paralysed servant of a centurion (Roman military officer) is recorded in Matthew 8: 5-13 and gives an account of great faith and the blessing that resulted. Showing that Christ is pleased by faith and can respond to people he is not physically present with is an important lesson in faith-based Christianity. As a theme for children's programs, this lesson can be reinforced and enhanced with crafts that reflect the message of trust.
Centurion Shield of Faith
Draw the outline of a shield on sturdy poster board and carefully cut it out. Paint the front of the shield with gold, silver or bronze poster board or acrylic paint, then accent using permanent markers, glitter, leather strips and coloured and metallic craft beads, buttons and studs. Create raised adornments, like a cross or name initial, by rolling newspaper into tight tubes and securing them to the shield in the desired shape with masking tape before painting. Add a strip of poster board to the back of the shield, taping down each end of the strip, to make a handle for a forearm to be slipped through. The shield can also be used as a wall or door poster. Write the scripture chapter and verse numbers on the shield as a reminder of the centurion's strong faith. Some teachers may combine the lessons of Matthew 8: 5-13 with those in Ephesians 6: 10-17, where faith is symbolised in verse 16 as a shield in the apostle Paul's teaching about wearing the full armour of God.
A fresco, or a painting done on plaster, was a popular Roman art form in first century A.D. and during the Italian Renaissance. Render your own fresco by applying a layer of Plaster of Paris to a piece of plywood. Keep with Roman tradition by painting on the plaster while it is damp, a method that adds strength and durability to the work. Create a scene based on Matthew 8: 5-13, such as the centurion speaking to Jesus or the healed servant rising from his bed to stand. Water colours, poster paint and tempera paint are all suitable for use on plaster.
Then and Now
Focusing on the words of Jesus in Matthew 8:13, "It will be done just as you believed it would," draw a picture of the centurion talking to Jesus face-to-face and label it "Then." On another sheet of paper, draw a picture of a modern day soldier praying to Jesus as He looks down from Heaven and label it "Now." Tape the pictures together to make a double page spread illustrating that communication with and faith in Jesus is available to all generations.
When in Rome
Express early Roman culture with something wearable. Fashion a Roman coin belt by cutting small circles from poster board, covering them in aluminium foil and using permanent markers to decorate the coins with pictures of an emperor's head, horses and chariots, military weapons, numerals and other Roman symbols. Punch a small hole at the top of each coin, add a round fastener and attach it to an inexpensive belt chain from a crafts store or weave a thin string of rope through the holes. These items can also serve as witnessing tools, giving the wearer an opportunity to tell the centurion's story when someone compliments her on her beautiful accessory!