Under Authority

Michael Wilcock

READ : Luke 7:1-10

“I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes.” (v. 8)

To focus on the way he gave orders and had them obeyed might make this centurion sound like a dictator. But that was not how he came across. On the contrary, he is portrayed as a thoroughly nice man. We may not know his name, but everyone in Capernaum would have. A Roman officer, true; to the locals, though, this man was much more than just a representative of a hated foreign army of occupation. He was a respected and generous member of the community, very sympathetic to the Jewish religion and way of life.

What Jesus saw in him was something yet more praiseworthy. To the centurion the whole command-structure of the military was second nature. Experience told him that when he gave orders, things happened, because the whole authority of Rome stood behind him. But faith told him that Jesus too must have behind him just such an authority, indeed, an even greater one.

What many Jews found hard to grasp was obvious to this gentile. Since Jesus was repeatedly doing miracles of healing, he clearly had behind him the full weight of the “Supreme Command.” That was why he could even forgive sins in the name of God.


Lord Jesus, all authority is yours: we bow before you.