When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
To whom is Jesus referring with these amazing words? Was it one of the disciples? Was it a Pharisee or scribe, or other eminent legal scholar? Was it another Jew who was casting out demons (such men did exist: when the Jews accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of satan, He replied, “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.” Luke 11:19) Or was it a simple child?
It was none of these. It was a Roman centurion, one of the hated conquerors of Israel! You can read the story both in Matthew 8 and Luke 7. And what had this soldier done? It was a small thing: he sent a message to Jesus that it was not necessary for the Master to come to his house to heal his suffering servant, but it would be enough for Jesus to say the word.
This man understood authority: one who is submitted to a higher authority need only speak the words of that authority, and every word spoken will be carried out. Jesus the Son only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19), and every word He spoke became reality. God the Father (the highest authority) gave authority to the Son, who used it not to fulfill His own desires but only to do what the Father was doing.
There is the key to authority: it’s not about what you know, or the strength of your faith, or the magnitude of your gift. It’s all about your willingness to obey, to be teachable, to be under the authority of those whom God places over you.
I learned this lesson decades ago in my charismatic days. I was raised an evangelical, baptized on Easter Sunday 1963 when I was nine years old. At university I attended a Methodist student fellowship, but when I changed my major from chemical engineering to music history (another story for another time!) I discovered the music of the Church – the Mass. I also befriended a Roman Catholic, and began attending Mass and singing in the choir. Later when I married Edye we began attending a charismatic church, so I came into the “three streams” one stream at a time.
In 1987 we partnered with two other couples to start a Word of Faith charismatic church. One of the couples had attended Rhema Bible College, and he was the founding pastor; his wife was the worship leader, and Edye and I were on the worship team.
Over time I became somewhat frustrated with the worship leader’s lack of musical understanding, and it showed in my attitude toward her. She rebuked me for it, and the Holy Spirit showed me a simple truth: He had appointed her the worship leader, not me. It had nothing to do with whether my knowledge or ideas were right or wrong; it had everything to do with whether I would submit to the authority God had given her. I did, and I asked her forgiveness for my attitude and remarks.
The worship improved markedly, the church grew slowly, and in a few years the Lord called Edye and me to move to a different church … which in less than two years would be the first church to join the newly founded CEC, host the first CEC convocation, and then become the Cathedral for the Central Diocese of the United States.
Great things come out of small acts of obedience. You cannot reach the destiny for which God has created you until you learn to continuously humble yourself before Him … and before those He places in authority over you.
Word of God: speak! Non nobis Domine+ by Father Dana Jackson