A Man of Authority

“For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:8-9 NRSV

MC900410935The stories of Jesus’ miracles bring hope and encouragement to many of us. When we read what he did, it opens our minds to what he can do in and through us.

But when I read the miracle stories, I don’t just want to be reminded of Jesus’ love and power, I want to learn from the mindset of those he healed. What was it they were thinking that encouraged them to go to Jesus? What kind of faith did they have? What was their response to our Lord?

One of my favorite miracles was the healing of the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10). As healings go, this was pretty typical. The really memorable part is the attitude the centurion had toward Jesus, and Jesus’ response to that attitude.

U.S. Army First Sergeant Epaulet --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThis Roman centurion was wise enough to realize the extent of a person’s power and ability depend, at least in part, on that person’s authority. Centurion’s had the power to make a soldier do whatever they commanded, because the centurion had authority over that solider. That means the power Jesus had to heal and perform miracles was related to his authority.

What the healings and miracles Jesus performed revealed was that his authority extended far beyond any Roman commander, far beyond any Jewish elder, far beyond any government official, and far beyond the authority of anyone else who had ever lived. Jesus’ power revealed he had authority over disease, over demonic forces, and even over death itself. With that kind of authority, Jesus had the power to do anything!

This centurion understood the connection between authority and power. Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s insight and show of faith. But really, how hard is it to believe that Jesus could do a miracle, if you understand who Jesus is and the authority he has? Maybe the problem many of us have is not a lack of faith, but lack of fully appreciating the authority Jesus actually has, and what that means to those who love and serve him.

The most foolish people I know think they are something they are not. This centurion knew who he was, and knew the limits of his own authority. He also recognized the reach of Jesus’ authority. That recognition opened the way for Jesus to do a miracle in his life!

Laughing Man Head and ShouldersI know what I can do and what I can’t. I want to be as wise as this centurion and recognize the authority Jesus has. Then I know Jesus’ power will be able to work more fully in and through my life.

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