Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Understanding and Exercising Authority

UV 592/10,000 Understanding and Exercising Authority “ 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.” Matthew 8 v 9 Most of the time people were amazed by the things Jesus said and did. But, here is one occasion, Jesus was amazed at what the Roman centurion said. He was astonished at the extent of his faith. He did not throw his weight as a person of authority belonging to the ruling class would when speaking to a member of a race under subjection to Roman rule. He addressed him as, “ Lord.” He humbled himself before Jesus knowing He had a higher calling though he did not seem to occupy any office. He was placing himself voluntarily under the authority and lordship of Jesus. We too do so when we understand and trust the authority and lordship of Jesus Christ. The centurion was a man in authority and under authority. He needed to obey those placed above him even as those below him obeyed him implicitly. He knew that from the common people to the soldier to the centurion to the emperor Caesar –all were under and subject to the authority of God. He could have thrown up his hands and think that the servant’s sickness was not caused by him and he could do nothing about it and leave him to his fate. But, he showed concern and compassion for the servant’s well being and exercised his faith to seek healing at the feet of Jesus. It meant that he made himself accountable to God in the performance of his duties and in the conduct of his life. The word “ authority” comes from the word “ author”. Here was a man in authority confronting the very Author of life, the author and finisher of our faith. As the title suggests, a centurion has command over a hundred soldiers. He could have commanded Jesus to come and heal his paralysed servant. But he realized for one thing that his writ or for that matter the writ or authority of the state or of Caesar did not run in the realm of the spirit. He drew a parallel between the human authority he exercised and the spiritual authority Jesus exercised. Apparently, he did not realize that he was addressing the Commander in Chief, the General of generals of the entire host or army of God or else he would have fallen down and worshipped Him. But, he understood that Jesus is a spiritual commander having authority over the spiritual realms even as he himself had authority over the physical. If he commanded a soldier working under him to go and fetch or do a particular thing, the latter would have no choice but to obey. He could have even sent a soldier to bring Jesus to his camp but he knew and respected the spiritual authority of Jesus. Just as a commander would know the extent and limits of his authority, the centurion knew that Jesus would know what had caused his servant’s illness and what would heal it. He knew Jesus just had to say the mere word, “ Go” and the illness would leave his servant. While Jesus Himself showed willingness to visit the centurion’s house to heal the servant in person, the centurion did not think it was necessary. He did not deign himself worthy to have Jesus come under his roof. His humility touched Jesus even as his faith astonished Him. Jesus rewarded the centurion’s humility and faith by saying, “ it will happen as you believe.” As Jesus spoke the words, a ministering spirit servant of Jesus went and touched the servant. The servant was healed that very hour. Isn’t it amazing that at this very hour, we could be the channel to deliver God’s healing and meaning to others He has placed under our authority? Today, He has given us the measure of spiritual authority according to the measure of our faith. Prateep V Philip

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