Monday, January 19, 2015

What Authority?

Authority is found several times in the Bible. I like its use in Luke 7:2-10:

And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. (Luke 7:2 KJV)

Rome held authority over Israel and shared that authority with its soldiers. This soldier was responsible for one hundred men who reported to him, as well as his own household. As a man of authority, he went to authorities when he needed help:

And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. (Luke 7:3 KJV)

Notice that he didn’t approach Jesus on his own. He went to elders of the Jews, people who were in a position of authority and asked them for help. Obviously, they knew where the real authority could be found:

And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. (Luke 7:4-5 KJV)

The elders liked the soldier, deeming him worthy to have his request fulfilled. He had shown love for the Jewish people that was not required in his position. Perhaps, one good deed deserves another? Had he not built the synagogue would they have declined to see help?

Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: (Luke 7:6 KJV)

Did he think of how some would view Jesus for going into a Roman’s home? Not just a gentile, but a soldier of the empire that held them in subjugation? Did he consider the ripple effect of such a visit?

Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (Luke 7:7-8 KJV)

A man of authority, he knew the limitations of his authority – what he could and could not do. He also knew that upon hearing his words, people responded to his authority. He recognized authority in Jesus. Without spending time with Him, without being in His circle of disciples, this soldier recognized Jesus’ authority to do miracles. He counted on that authority to be accomplished simply by Jesus’ words.

When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Luke 7:9 KJV)

Hopefully, we know the answer to the chief priests and elders' question that came later in His ministry.

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? (Matthew 21:23 KJV)

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