So on his way down the mountain after preaching “The Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus was healing and touching the people who pressed in around him. He was on his way to Peter’s house to have dinner with Peter’s family. As he entered the town of Capernum, a Roman Captain came up to Jesus in a panic and said, “Master, my servant is sick. He can’t walk. He’s in terrible pain.”
Jesus said, “I’ll come and heal him.”
“Oh no,” said the Captain, “I don’t want to put you to all that trouble. Just give the order and my servant will be fine. I’m a man who takes orders and gives orders. I tell one soldier Go and he goes; to another Come and he comes; to my slave Do This and he does it.”
Shocked and taken aback, Jesus said, “I’ve yet to come across thins kind of simple trust in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know all about God and how he works. This man is the beginning of many outsiders who will soon be coming from all directions- streaming in from the east, pouring in from the west, sitting down at God’s Kingdom banquet alongside Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened.”
Then Jesus turned to the Captain and said, “Go. What you believed could happen has happened.” At that moment his servant became well.
This is the story of a Gentile who had a surprising amount of faith. This is a man who understood authority. He knew how to obey commands and how to give commands. He knew that Jesus had authority over sickness and death. He believed that Jesus only needed to speak the words and the miracle would occur, he didn’t need to come to the house and touch the sick servant. This man amazed Jesus with his grasp of the Spiritual Reality of Jesus’s power.
It’s been my experience that people who respect authority themselves, are in turn respected when they carry authority. We used to tell our youth group kids, “You can’t expect anyone to respect your authority if you don’t respect the authority above YOU.” Kids who had a hard time showing respect did not make good leaders, no matter how charismatic they were. As a matter of fact, kids that had a hard time with earthly authority, really struggled with the concept of God’s authority. (Perhaps the military would have been a good option for those kids to teach them how to respect authority.)
Part of respecting authority requires trusting in your leader and his power. Is he trustworthy? Is he powerful? Then you can trust that he sees the big picture even when your vision is myopic. Just like the servant doesn’t get to ask the master “why” but he just follows directions- trusting that the master has a plan- so are we to trust our Master. Jesus is the Master of more authority than anyone on earth has ever wielded, and yet we still doubt his power to help us when we pray. That shows that we don’t understand authority, and likely we aren’t very good at respecting the human authorities God has placed over us either.
Today, try to set aside all the other imagery about Jesus that you have accumulated in your mind. Just for today, when you think of Jesus, I want you to focus in on the idea that he gives an order and all of creation obeys his words. He can nod his head and heal your body. He can look at your fear from the corner of his eye and your nightmare will flee. This is your God. This is the One that you can trust with your needs and petitions, the One who wields all authority both in Heaven and on Earth. Is this image of Jesus the same as the one you’ve been carrying in your mind? If not, then your image of Jesus isn’t big enough. Time to expand your view of Jesus to panoramic.