Daily Reading: This morning, we’re reading Luke 7. Start there, then read this devotion that will tie in with what you’ve read.
Authority. In our 21st century American minds, it’s not a word we like very much. We buck a bit at the idea that anyone might truly have authority. We especially hate the idea of absolute authority. We demand a system of checks and balances to temper authoritarian leaders. Of course this is only necessary because we are used to dealing with authority held by sinful men.
Jesus wields absolute authority. Colossians 1 tells us that Jesus created the world with his words, sustains it with his power, and now stands as head over the church. In Matthew 28, Jesus says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” That is authority! While we may have trouble coming up with examples of absolute authority in our own life, a centurion in Jesus’ day would not have. A centurion was a position in the Roman military. These men had authority over somewhere around 100 men or more. Of course, their authority came, not from themselves, but from their connection to the Roman emperor. He had absolute authority, and those who worked under him exercised it. When a centurion gave a command, he did so with the full force of the emperor himself. In Luke 7, a centurion comes to Jesus and recognizes the authority our Savior holds.
“Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.”
– Luke 7:2–10 ESV
The question of faith always comes back to this, “Who has authority?” Who has authority to forgive sins? Who has authority over life and death? Who has authority in my life? Authentic faith in Jesus has an answer to that. Jesus has authority. He is Lord. This centurion understood that. He know what absolute authority looked like, and he knew that Jesus held it on a level beyond anything he had seen.
When you think of faith, do you link it with authority? Have you thought about the fact the trusting Jesus today means recognizing his authority. Not just his authority over your troubles, but his authority to command your life. We wouldn’t want a savior any less powerful than this. Of course, he’s not just powerful, the one who holds all authority also had the mercy to heal this Roman servant. Majesty and meekness. We always find both in our precious Savior.