The Authority of Christ

The Absolute Authority of Christ
Matthew 8:1-13
“For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

Christ is either sovereign over all things, or He is not sovereign over anything.  Either He possesses absolute authority to control all events at all times, or He has no authority at all.
After Jesus finished his sermon on the mountain, He was confronted by a Roman Centurion.  We can only imagine what the disciples thought when the symbol of Roman authority and rule over Israel approached Jesus.  Was he there to arrest Jesus as an insurrectionist?  Was he there to warn Jesus to walk carefully after Jesus had condemned the Gentiles for their pursuit of power and wealth (6:32)?  Was he approaching Jesus to argue Jesus’ claim that Jesus’ words were authoritative and anyone who failed to follow them would face inevitable disaster (7:24-27)?  We do not know what was going through the people’s minds as they saw this powerful and feared Centurion approach Jesus.  One thing we can be sure, they did not expect him to come seeking help from a Jew.  That was unthinkable!  Yet this is why the Centurion came to Jesus.

What was truly remarkable about the Centurion's request for his servant's healing was not just the request itself but his profound understanding of Jesus. Unlike the Jews, he grasped the theological truth that Jesus was a divine representative endowed with absolute power and control over everything. This recognition of Jesus' supreme authority even surprised Jesus, for it revealed a deep understanding of God’s control that the Jews had failed to acknowledge. The Centurion's understanding was clear: if Jesus possessed the power and authority of God, then He was in absolute control.

Yesterday, the headlines were the same.  Some saw the conviction of Trump as an example of justice while others saw it as a gross distortion of the judicial system for political gain.  It was either a triumph or a tragedy, depending on one's political affiliation.  However, regardless of what we believe about the legitimacy of the conviction, one thing is sure: it will lead to further division in an already divided nation and create more uncertainty and anxiety as we approach an election year. As Christians, how are we to understand the events that happened and all the events that occur in our world and our life?

The answer lies on the lips of an unlikely centurion.  It wasn’t just that he believed that Christ had the power to heal, but he recognized that Christ had the authority to control the events of the world and his own life.  Christ’s ability to heal was not a question of power, but authority and sovereignty. This Centurion rightfully recognized that if Jesus was God, He had the authority over all creation and could exert that authority with a spoken word.  This was what the Jews themselves failed to grasp.  Throughout the gospels, the Jewish leaders questioned the authority of Christ.  They questioned His authority to heal and, more importantly, to forgive sin (for example, see Matthew 9:1-8).  

The Centurion's understanding of Christ's authority serves as a reminder to us. Christ is the King of the entire world, and as such, He exercises absolute authority over everything. This includes the political events that unfold, which are just as much under Christ's authority and sovereignty as the daily events in our lives.  Therefore, we need not be unsettled or alarmed by these events.  As Isaiah reminded the people of his time when they were confronted with the turmoil of their geopolitical world, “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.  It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy.”  Whether it's a personal struggle with the threat of cancer or the political upheaval of a divided nation, God is either in absolute control or not.  He is either sovereign or He isn’t. I, for one, am grateful that he is!

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