17 March 2010
Jesus Has Authority
From a Jewish perspective there is much to despise about the centurion. He was a military leader from a Gentile nation occupying their land. But, apparently he was well regarded since, according to the elders, he showed interest in their culture and backed his interest with the action of building the local synagogue. Jesus chose to honour the centurion because of his faith.
The centurion heard about Jesus from others and the others explained who Jesus is so well, the centurion understood who Jesus is. At the very least, he understood Jesus to be someone sent by God and that God had given Jesus authority to carry out His will and mission. A military leader understands this perfectly. They receive their orders from someone in authority over them. They do not ask the why or the how of the orders. They are not even privy to how the order fits exactly with the overall plan from the emperor. Those in authority over the centurion had given him authority over others in order that the centurion would be able to complete the task that he had been given.
He understood that Jesus was under the authority of his Father in heaven and that Jesus had authority to carry out his Father's will on earth. He demonstrates his faith by acknowledging two things. First, people with great authority need to have an audience requested before any sort of request is heard. People with great authority don't see just anyone. People with great authority need to be humbly approached. This is why the centurion did not personally see Jesus or bother Jesus with the trouble of entering the house.
Second, people with great authority use words to accomplish the mission. People with great authority give commands to complete the task. He understood who Jesus was and knew that Jesus could simply heal his servant with a word. There was no magical incantation or ritual, no loud, laborious dance that Jesus had to perform. Jesus did not even have to see the servant. All that was required was the authority of Jesus.
Jesus was so amazed at the centurion's understanding that he seems to turn to his Jewish disciples and say, why can't any of you believe in me the way this Gentile does?