15: Knowing Authority

Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014
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About Our God Reigns Series

Martha's thorough and definitive series on one of the most pivotal spiritual issues, and one of the most misunderstood: Authority.

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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.”
Matthew 8:5-7 NASB

The centurion was a Roman army officer with command over a hundred men. The man was not a Jew, but a Roman, policing Israel for Rome.  Those who have known military order understand that “authority” is absolute.  The rest of us think it is fluid and we can slide around it.

In armies, the upper rank holds total power over the lower rank.  Orders must be unquestioned, resistance never entertained.  It is drilled into the soldiers that power – absolute power – rests with the officer in charge.

This is essential for the purpose of war and for the common peace.  An almost blind obedience, necessary for survival.  The Centurion understood this from his military life.  He knew that one word from authority was enough.  The thing was done with a word.  When authority was present, obedience was mandatory and swift, carried out with a certain level of fear.

He saw Jesus, not as a man with the gift of healing, but as one who had enormous Authority.  He registered all he saw in his framework of the hierarchy of power . . . and by that knowledge, he understood Jesus perfectly.

The Centurion recognized the level of Jesus’ authority and approached Him with the deference it was due.  “The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.”  He addressed the Lord with the confidence that comes from understanding Him through the operation of authority.

“But just say the word and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  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” (vs 8, NIV).

Not only did the Centurion understand being in charge, he understood as well, being subordinate.  And by the experience of both, he comprehended Jesus not merely as One who ruled, but as One who ruled – because He obeyed.  He saw it not as an isolated and arbitrary power.  He recognized in Jesus a whole system of God-derived government.  Under and over. In authority. Under authority.

It appears this soldier was the only one who comprehended Jesus in this full and rich way, by the laws of governing.  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (vs 10, NIV).

Faith. Jesus saw his grasp of authority as faith.  Not common faith, not mediocre faith. Great faith!  And He declared that it had not been found in anyone else.  We children of God do not live in a democracy “beside” Him.  We maintain our right-to-vote and, by that way of thinking, lose our foundational faith and the necessary fear of our God.

It is our greatest error, the failure to comprehend that we live in a Monarchy, a Kingdom – under an Absolute Ruler – and not in a democracy.  His word is unchallenged.  His commands are mandatory, not optional.  His is the Highest Power, the Final Authority.  He is to be obeyed without question, without equivocation.  The Sovereign God is never wrong, never without Love.  And when we come UNDER Him in complete acquiescence, we will discover faith to wield His authority over all that opposes Him . . . from disease to rebellion.

Just as Jesus.

Copyright © 1999 Martha Blaney Kilpatrick, Our God Reigns

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