By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
Reading from the Gospel of Luke, 7:1-17
1 After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, 5for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” 6And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. 8For I also 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 slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” 9When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” 15The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” 17This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
The centurion recognized that Jesus — like himself — was “a man under authority,” someone on a mission, backed by a higher power, and that as such, Jesus himself had great power and authority, given to him by God the Father. Whatever Jesus commanded would be done, whether he was there personally or not. It wasn’t what Jesus physically did or said that brought healing. It was his authority. In fact, as Jesus told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18, emphasis added).
The natural world submitted to his authority: the wind and the waves obeyed him. The fig tree withered and died at his command. In the physical realm, Jesus exercised authority over sickness and disease. He healed the blind, the lame, the deaf. The spirit world acknowledged him — demons trembled in his presence and begged him not to torture them.
Jesus had the power to read people’s thoughts and reveal their hearts. He had the authority to forgive sin. Jesus had control of his own destiny. He said, “No one takes my life from me — I lay it down willingly.” He had authority over death and hell — it couldn’t keep him in the grave. Now he’s seated at the right hand of the Father, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It’s this Jesus to whom we pray, this Jesus to whom we entrust all of our hopes and fears, all of our problems and our plans. We can have confidence, like the centurion, that Jesus will act on our behalf, because he has the authority to do so. He has the power. And he’s willing to use it, because we are so much more than servants to him — we are his friends (John 15:5).
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, Th.M., is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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