I have found that I am able to leverage the hobbies and interests that I am most familiar with and knowledgeable of to help me to understand different concepts. This is why half of my devotionals start with sports related analogies. I love baseball and understand its intricacies. Odds are if I can connect something to baseball, I will have no trouble understanding the concept.
In Luke 7, we see a man employ what he understands to make some sense of a complex and deep topic.
“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. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 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.’ 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.’ And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. “ -Luke 7:6-10
Centurions were officers in the Roman Army. They would lead groups of up to 80 men. As he says in verse 8, he has the authority to give orders and see them carried out. The centurion says, “Jump,” and his boys say, “How high?” The centurion was an important man in that day and age, but he was probably not a well-liked individual considering he was a Roman soldier whose role was to help oppress Israel.
I think the centurion’s understanding of authority affects his demeanor, actions and approach to Jesus in this passage. Let’s make a fairly safe assumption that the centurion either heard of or witnessed the power of Christ. We don’t know how the centurion is familiar with Jesus, but Jesus affirms in verse 9 what we can evidently see for ourselves: the man has a devout faith in Christ and a sound understanding of his power and authority.
The centurion knows that Jesus, like himself, has the ability to give a command and it happens. But there is one major difference. The centurion can order his soldiers to carry out orders and they get done more often than not. Jesus, on the other hand, can command any and all created things and his instruction is followed perfectly.
Jesus says, “Fig tree, die,” and it’s dead. Jesus says, “Demon, come out,” and it leaves. Jesus says, “Storm, calm down,” and it stops. Jesus says, “Dead man, rise,” and he walks out of the tomb. If Jesus says, it is.
Because the centurion has a grasp on what it means to have the right and power to give orders and enforce obedience, he has a unique insight into Jesus’ authority. Because of that understanding, he feels completely unworthy to ask for his help. He feels that he is no more deserving of the assistance of Christ than a lowly, newly-enlisted soldier is deserving of his attention. He won’t even approach Jesus himself. He doesn’t feel as if he is fit to ask for his help.
He is right. He is not fit to ask for the help of the God-Man who created all things with His own hand and for His own glory. Despite his relatively high position in the culture, he is not worthy of Christ’s help and he knows it. However, because Jesus is as perfectly loving and gracious as He is powerful, we can approach him with any and all concerns.
So Jesus healed his servant without even entering his house. Just another day in the life of Jesus. NBD.
An argument can be made that the centurion misses the mark by not approaching Jesus himself. Maybe it was pride. Perhaps he really did feel like he was unworthy of Christ’s love. Because of the cross, we know we can approach Jesus. Regardless, the centurion displays a humility and understanding of the power of Christ that I hope to cultivate in my own life.
Look at the limited authority we have. We each have influence and power to move people to some degree. Some are higher-ups on the job, some have positions in their church or organization, some are husbands and some are just older siblings. Whatever authority looks like in your life, I challenge you to think on it in order to have an understanding of how powerful Christ is. Let that move you to humility, submission and worship like the centurion.