And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. “For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
When a police woman stands in the road and lifts her hand up to a huge articulated truck, it does not stop because she has the physical power to stop it. The driver brings his vehicle to a halt because of her authority. Her uniform, her badge of authority which says ‘Police Department’ and her Identification Card all demonstrate that she represents the law. She embodies the whole power of the law and carries its authority. When she says ‘stop’, the law says ‘stop’.
How did the policewoman get that authority and power? She joined the police force and pledged to submit to the officers and governors above her and ultimately to the president or monarch of her country. Because she submits to the authority over her she is able to properly represent and use that authority. You or I could dress up in a police uniform and get a phony badge but that would not qualify us to be part of the police force, it may fool a few unwitting people for a short time, but ultimately we would suffer the consequences. It is the official Police authorities that endorse and commission officers of the law through allegiance and official qualification. So it is with spiritual authority.
Matthew 8:5-12 gives an account of an occasion when a Roman Centurion came to Jesus. The soldier explained that he had a servant who was paralyzed and in pain. He said that he knew that if Jesus wanted to He could heal him. Though Jesus agreed to go with him the soldier replied that he was not worthy to have Jesus come to his home. He said he knew that Jesus only needed to say the word and his servant would be healed. Jesus was so impressed with the Centurion that he declared he had not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. That is some praise for a gentile military man that represented everything the Jews hated!
The reason the Centurion understood the power of Jesus authority was because he understood the principles I explained using the Police Woman illustration. Men and women in any hierarchical chain of command should have a head start when it comes to grasping these principles of authority. The Centurion said, ‘For I myself am a man under authority’ Matthew 8:9, that is why he had power to command the soldiers under him. The Centurion would have commanded a Roman division of 6,666 soldiers called a legion. He had the power of life and death over them. That is why the Centurion explained to Jesus: I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." Matthew 8:9.
Of course the Roman Empire was a worldly version of the Kingdom of God and operated entirely on fear and force. If the Centurion commanded his men to run into certain death they would do it, and if they did not obey the command they were dead men anyway. The Roman soldier was completely obedient to the generals and ultimately the Emperor over him so he was able to use absolute authority over his men.
In the Kingdom of God the principle of submission and authority is the same but Jesus shows that life is laid down through love and not fear.
Jesus said: I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. John 6:38
And so Jesus was a man utterly submitted to God’s authority and therefore in authority to do the works of God. And so it is with those Christians who are submitting to the Holy Spirit today.
Total submission to the Lord in obedience is our basis for true authority. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the patience and humility to walk under His guidance today in all you do. Listen to the quiet promptings that lead you to the ‘small yet significant’ acts of kindness today.