Matthew 8:5-13 5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” (COMPASSION) 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. (HUMILITY) But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (FAITH) 9 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.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
Matthew tells this story of an unlikely person of faith. I call him an unlikely candidate for faith because this was a military man, a leader in Rome’s army, someone whose job was to subject God’s people to the Emperor’s rule. This was a man of war who had climbed the military ranks. Who knows just what he had to do to get to where he had gotten? He had distinguished himself above many others in the savage Roman martial arts. This wasn’t someone you would expect to have compassion on their servant. Compassion would have easily been excavated from him through his brutal military training. His humility was also surprising. After all, he had achieved a certain status through his rank and was in a position that commanded the respect of others. And then there was his faith. How did he conclude that Jesus could speak a word and heal his servant, even from a distance? Compassion, humility and faith were demonstrated by an enemy to the Jews, making him a likely enemy of Jesus. What was the reason he could take the leap it must have taken to approach Jesus, to ask this Jewish man for help?
In verse 9, the Centurion said to Jesus, “I myself am a man under AUTHORITY with soldiers under me.”
The thing that enabled the Centurion to take a leap of faith, to express his compassion with humility was that He understood and recognized Jesus’ authority. His military training had schooled him on how authority, how the chain of command works. There were people over him who would issue a command. Because of their authority over him, he would do as he was told. He also had people who were conditioned to recognize the authority that had been given to him. When he sent a command their way, there wasn’t a question as to whether they would follow through. Because of the authority in that chain of command, orders weren’t questioned; they were carried out.
Somehow, this Roman Centurion, this enemy of the Jewish people, recognized that Jesus had authority over sickness. Jesus’ words had ultimate weight over disease. He believed that sickness had to bow to the word of Jesus. Jesus didn’t have to see the sick person in order to heal them. He didn’t have to touch the sick person to make them well. He just had to speak, and because of His ultimate authority over sickness, sickness had no choice but to flee at His Word.
Jesus healed paralytics. He gave sight to the blind. He opened deaf ears. He healed people who had awful fevers. He healed someone of a terrible spine condition. He cured lepers. He healed someone from a blood condition which had persisted for 12 years. In several instances, we are told that when Jesus went into a town, such as in Matthew 9:35, He healed every disease and sickness that He was confronted with. In some settings He chose to heal every disease and sickness. He didn’t just specialize in blindness or chiropractic care, but He demonstrated He had the authority to heal every disease. There were places Jesus limited His healing works. He didn’t heal everyone. That was dually noted. He had His reasons for healing or not healing, but His healing work was so comprehensive that His ultimate authority over sickness cannot be questioned.
Jesus has ultimate authority over sickness!
We also see Jesus’ authority over the natural elements on display. He stilled winds and waves in Matthew 8. In Matthew 14 Jesus actually walked on the water. He had the authority to command the components of water to serve Him just as the ground would. That liquid H2O did something it wasn’t supposed to do because of the authority of Jesus. The water’s natural properties were suspended because of the authority of the Master. In Matthew 17 Jesus placed money in the mouth of a fish before it was caught. He didn’t catch it, open its mouth, put money in it and throw it back for Peter to catch. He simply had the authority to place the money in the fish’s mouth. The money was used to pay the temple tax. On another occasion, Jesus cursed a fig tree and it withered immediately (Matthew 21:19).
Do you know anyone else with that kind of authority over storms, over water, over the fish of the sea and over the trees, that at their word, those natural elements and created beings do exactly as he or she says? It’s incredible!
Jesus has ultimate authority over nature.
And what can be said of Jesus’ confrontations with the powers of evil? He had more than His share of encounters with Satan and demons. He overcame the devil in the wilderness temptations. When He did, He proved that the Kingdom of Heaven was greater than the Kingdom of Darkness.
There were many instances in Scripture of Jesus exercising authority over demons. As demons came out of people, His authority and power were seen. Read the Gospels and look for the multiple confrontations with the powers of darkness. You will find there that demons can only do what Jesus commands, and that they must disperse at His Word.
Jesus has ultimate authority over Satan and his demons.
Let’s not forget the authority with which Jesus taught the Scripture. He didn’t just know what it said. He knew what it meant. He understood it all. After all, He was and is the Logos, the Living Word. Every time He opened His mouth to speak, people were astonished, amazed, spellbound by His Words, by His understanding, by His explanations and the authoritative way He taught.
The teachers of the law, the religious leaders, were supposed to be the authority on Scripture and the way to find peace with God. Clearly, Mark’s Gospel, in 1:21, tells us people were pretty skeptical about their ability to know and disseminate truth. They didn’t view the religious leaders as people with authority. Jesus was a standout when He spoke because of His authority. He superseded all of the religious leaders put together.
The teaching of Jesus and His Word are the ultimate authority for right living.
No one can improve on the teachings of Jesus. No one can add anything to His Word. No one will ever undermine His authority or alter the truth as has been explained by Him. The changing of culture does not change that Jesus is the final authority on the way to God and the way to please God.
Matthew 9, Mark 2, and Mark 9 tell us Jesus is the ultimate authority over sin. What He forgives is forgiven completely and will not be held against us by God. At the same time, what He calls sin is sin.
The “I Am” statements of Jesus in John’s Gospel are pretty bold declarations. Jesus makes them about Himself. Jesus said in John 11:25, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
Jesus knows how to make dead things live. He can bring forth life in the worst of situations, even in the situation of death. In Matthew 9 Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead. He raised a widow’s son from the dead in Luke 7. He raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. He, too, was raised from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion.
Jesus has ultimate authority over Death!
This is the reThis is why we worship Jesus as Lord of All. This is why we can live in freedom. This is why we fear nothing, not even death. The one who believes in Him will live forever, even though that person experiences an earthly death. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!
Jesus didn’t try to hide His authority. He was bold about the authority He possessed. He said in Matthew 28:18 that He possessed all authority in Heaven and on earth. Nothing is exempted in that statement. All authority in Heaven and on earth means “all.” Do you believe that? Do you believe Jesus has ultimate authority?
The military man we talked about at the beginning of this message, knew that Jesus had ultimate authority, at least ultimate authority over sickness. It was that obvious to him.
I wonder how many Christ-followers today understand Christ’s ultimate authority? I wonder how many disciples of Jesus live today in recognition that He is the ultimate authority?
Hundreds and thousands of people witnessed Jesus’ authority over sickness, over nature, over Satan and demons, over earthly teaching, over sin and over death. There is no shortage of evidence concerning the authority of Jesus. The question is simply: Do you recognize and honor the authority of Jesus in your own life? There is no one higher. There is nothing else more comprehensive or powerful. It is Jesus. He is the Ultimate Authority