“I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ’Go,’ and he goes; and to that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:9.
There is something that has puzzled me for a long time. Jesus gave His church His authority to do what He did and yet the church in general seems powerless to do what He said we could do. Why are we lacking the power He said we have? Was He lying, or is there something in His life that we have missed that is the key to exercising effective authority?
The above quote comes from the words of the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his dying servant. Jesus was going to his home but the centurion stopped Him. “I understand your authority,” he said, “because I am also under authority.” Strange that he equated having authority with being under authority.
His confidence in Jesus’ ability to heal his servant lay in his understanding of Jesus’ authority because, as a member of the Roman army, he knew how authority worked. If he was not submitted to his senior officer, his authority over those under him meant nothing. He recognised in Jesus a submission to God’s authority that gave Him power to deal with anything under His authority.
In Luke 4:1 and 14, Luke makes a significant observation. At His baptism, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit but after forty days of testing in the wilderness, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. What transpired in those forty days that affected Jesus’ authority?
What was the thrust of Satan’s temptations?
Jesus continually claimed, “I and the Father are one.” He implied that He was so submitted to the Father’s will that He thought and acted in perfect harmony with God. Never did He override His Father’s will with His own. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission.” Hebrews 5:7.
He fulfilled David’s prophecy in Psalm 40:8, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is written in my heart.’” Jesus’ commitment to doing the will of God was non-negotiable.
In the wilderness, Satan tested the strength of that commitment. Jesus response was always, “Daddy didn’t tell me to do it.” He could not be lured away from perfect oneness with the Father for any reward, not to satisfy His urgent hunger, not to fulfil a legitimate desire or to check the reliability of God’s promises. He trusted and entrusted Himself to the Father completely.
If Satan could trick Him into acting outside of the Father’s will for a split second, he would have Him in his power, as he did Adam and the whole human race, but Jesus was not fooled, even for a second. He recognised what Satan was up to and refused to yield.
So, where does that leave us? A very simple rule – the measure of our authority over the things Jesus gave us authority over depends on the measure of our submission to the Father’s will. That’s where it becomes tough because we have an inborn capacity to be independent. Our journey of faith is a journey into submission until we can say like Jesus, “I delight to do your will, O my God. Your law is within my heart,” not grudging submission because we have to but willing submission because we delight to do His will.