Under Authority

Matthew 8:9 “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell one to go, and he goes; and another to come, and he comes. I tell my servant to do something, and he does it.”

The greek term for authority is ‘Exousia’, which means being as a right or privilege”) – it refers to the authority, conferred power; or delegated empowerment (“authorization”) of those operating in a designated jurisdiction. The definition gives insight into how the heavenly authority we are living under is not man made but instituted by God. To delegate power is not to abandon a position but it indicates trust in the one in whom it has been delegated for.

The centurion who approached Jesus was a man who had been delegated power from Rome. At the time, Caesar was the most powerful position in the world and the centurion was an advocate of that power. If you offended a centurion, you offended Rome and the conviction was harsh.

When the centurion approached Jesus, he recognized the authority of God which had been conferred upon Jesus. Whether or not he believed Jesus was the Messiah was not indicated here, but to acknowledge Jesus’ divine power was a step in the right direction. Notice how the centurion didn’t ask Caesar to heal his servant? It was not uncommon to relegate some divine countenance upon whoever held the position of Emperor. The expectation that people pledge their allegiance to Rome was practiced in this false worship that had infiltrated the highest office of Rome. Anyone with that much power might begin to think more highly of themself than they ought. What started out as a tribute to Caesar turned into a ritualistic expectation of servitude.

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

The commandment was clear, the expectation of God upon mankind extended to all of Creation, not just to His people Israel. Israel was and is today an archetype of the church. God conferred His power upon them to reveal to the world that He alone is God. To be a representative of God is a great honor with great responsibility. The Lord doesn’t take it lightly and neither should any who are called by His name. Purity and holiness were the expectations of God’s people and He routinely reminded them of how to practice these qualities. There were rituals that God instituted which reflected deeper spiritual meanings behind them. Whether it was God’s instructions during the exodus, God’s laws given at Mt. Horeb, or instructions to the priests in Leviticus, all of God’s dictates had meaning and purpose.

Recognition of Authority

In Matthew’s gospel we read of the centurion who approached Jesus and was vexed in his spirit.

Matthew 8:5 “Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

The compassion the centurion showed toward the lowly servant was a demonstration of great concern. For a Roman to approach a Jew and ask for help required great humility. His need for help showed the great care he felt for this servant and his recognition of Jesus’ power.

Matthew 8:8 “The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. “

What can we learn from this centurion?

*The Centurion recognized the authority of Christ.

*He demonstrated faith.

*His recognition of Jesus’ divine power revealed the position of his heart.

Matthew 8:10 “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

How could a man who followed a pagan emperor believe Jesus wielded such great power?

The impact Jesus had on those around Him was not relegated only to His disciples. When we represent Christ to the world, we model His image in ways that we may not understand. If we model that image falsely, we could undermine someone’s understanding of who Jesus really is. We could give someone a false impression of God’s authority, judgement, or grace.

If we get so caught up in religious doctrine so that we can’t see God through the ritual, our religion actually might become a hindrance to others. The Centurion wasn’t relegated to following a manipulated pharisaical law that subjected the people to a faith built on works. He could see Jesus’ power demonstrated independent of the skepticism associated with religious pride and tradition.

He could see Jesus for who He really was.

Our Condemnation

Jesus reserved His condemnation not for a Centurion representative of a pagan culture but Jesus immediately conferred it upon His own unbelieving people.

Matthew 8:11-12 “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Did this mean that Jesus was judgemental of all of Israel?—Many of His own people had missed the mark when it came to being found faithful. The Lord had revealed knowledge of His holiness to that stubborn people for thousands of years, only to see them turn away in a few short generations. The Lord would bring judgement upon them, they would repent and return to Him, then they would eventually fall away once again. Stubbornness and hard heartedness were attributes God has ascribed to His people for generations, and yet these attributes extend to all people for all time.

Romans 2:5 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”

Just like Israel, God has revealed His goodness and power to us. Whether it is through His Creation or by a demonstration of His power in a multitude of ways we can see evidence of God….the question is, how do we respond to Him?.

With each refusal to listen to His call, with each decision to follow their own path and as each rebellious heart neglects the One that He has set over Creation, judgement resides upon the heads of all who reject Him.

How long will God remain patient?

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

How do we expect Him to respond regarding evil?

Exodus 23:7 “Stay far away from a false accusation. Do not kill the innocent or the just, for I will not acquit the guilty.”

Why do people continue to test His authority?

Matthew 4:7 “Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

These are questions I’ve had myself for years. I have felt like I have tested God’s patience far to many times. I’m always shocked when I see the evidence of His grace in my life, time and time again.

The frustration that Jesus exhibited towards His own people at that moment as He witnessed this profound faith in a man who was not a Jew was a godly frustration that had extended over generations. Do you want to see God’s heart? Watch how Jesus responded to people like this.

Matthew 8:13 “Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.”

Faith honored

*Regardless of who is demonstrating the faith, when faith is placed in Christ alone, it is to these God reveals His power.

Do you have an area that you desire God to intervene in?

The question remains: How much do you trust Him?

Trusting in the Lord is not hoping He blesses you as you do your own thing. Like the Centurion it requires a forsaking of your previous allegiances, it requires humility, and it will be necessary for you to swallow your pride and recognize that God has a purpose and plan that you may not be aware of as you trust His providence.

When Hope is placed at God’s feet—-watch out! He likes that kind of faith…alot. You will see His goodness in your circumstances if you will only be patient and allow Him to work according to His wisdom and timing.

Once you come through the trial, you will reap the blessing of greater faith, peace in knowing that He is in control, and others will see and their faith will grow as well.

The authority of the King has been well established—whose authority have you placed yourself under?

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