March 15, 2012 Ė Authority Understanding Authority
9 For I am also a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, Go and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my slave, Do this, and he does it. Ė Matthew 8:9 AMP
Jesusí encounter with the Roman centurion is a story told in the Gospel of both Matthew and Luke. While these accounts differ slightly, Jesus marveled at the great faith of this man. He even proclaimed that He had not seen such great faith anywhere else. But letís consider the centurion and his position for a moment.
By his title alone, we know that this man had one hundred Roman soldiers under his command. We know he was wealthy because he had a servant who was sick. And he also understood the concept of authority. The account in the Gospel of Luke differs in that the centurion sent messengers and friends to tell Jesus not to come to his house; just like the Matthew account it was as simple as speak the word and he will be healed.
Now letís look at the Roman army in general. They were a peacekeeping force for a country occupying a foreign land. They were hated by the Jews. Some more than likely abused their power. But this particular centurion did not act that way.
The centurion from todayís verse could have exercised his authority to get Jesus to heal his servant. He could have received approval from the local Roman governor to have Jesus carried directly to his house. The centurion could have ordered some of the soldiers under his command to drag Jesus away from the crowd or steal him away during the night. But he did none of those things. He begged Jesus to just speak the words of healing. He didnít need some great show because he understood authority.
Christians today could take some serious notes from the centurion. Now Iím not talking specifically about healing and Jesusí power over sickness and disease, as a blog is definitely not long enough to open that proverbial can of worms. It just seems that Christians today have some severe authority issues.
Homes all over the world are full of husbands and fathers who do not understand the concept of authority. The male gender as a whole has been wrecked for several years because of the whole equality of the sexes movement. Society seems to frown on men being the head of the home. Now I will be the first to admit that there are abusive husbands and fathers all over the world. They do not love their wife as Christ loved the church.
The truth is that they are all making being good husbands and fathers seem like something only our great-grandparents used to do. They are allowed to do such things because neither society nor family truly understands authority.
At work, there are continual squabbles about who is in charge. There are always people who try to usurp the power of their boss by going over their head. They cannot accept the fact that their boss is in charge, making every attempt to get him fired. They have no concept of authority.
But why would someone abuse their position at church? For starters, who is the authority at your church? Iím sure most would immediately say pastor so-and-so or board chairman whatís-his-name. But stop a minute and seriously think. Who do you really want in charge at church? Is anyone at your church, including the pastor, sneaky, conniving, or manipulative? If they are, they have no understanding of authority.
So how do people in positions of authority understand authority? First we all have to remember that regardless of our position, we are never in charge. It was well within the centurionís power to make Jesus go with him. He could have made himself in charge. But his power didnít make him greedy for more; it gave him wisdom.
Since none of us are in charge, we have to be wise enough to recognize our place. You can be husband and father of the year, CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and chairman of your church board, but you are still subject to authority. There is still Someone you need to listen to.
The One we need to listen to is God. He is our Ultimate Authority. He will tell you where to live, where to work, and even where you need to go to church. He will turn you into the best parent and spouse ever. But you have to stop and listen to Him. You have to be willing to follow Him no matter what. Only then will you be like the centurion. He was an authority who truly understood authority.