Are You “Set Under Authority”?
We know that Jesus operated in faith. He had complete trust in who he was as God’s Son and he knew that all of the resources of Heaven were available to him. If we have the same life in us that Jesus has in him, then why do we not have complete trust in who we are? Why don’t we believe that we have the resources of Heaven available to us? The answer to these questions requires an understanding of what it means to be obedient.
Let’s begin with three scriptures in John – John 4:34, 5:30 and 7:16-17.
What is the common theme in these verses? The theme is Jesus’s willingness to set aside his will – his desires, his wishes, and his decision-making authority – to do whatever the Father wants him to do. We know that when it came to living in and by faith, Jesus did that. And based on what we see in these verses, and this holds true for many other passages in the Gospels, Jesus’s first priority was doing what the Father wanted done. Everything else was secondary.
As I think about my own life, I can’t always say that God’s will has been a priority in my life. I know I have made some decisions that did not please God. I have asked Him for forgiveness and I know that I have been forgiven. Jesus never made a decision that was not in complete agreement with His Father. Imagine that. We have the capability of always making decisions that our Heavenly Father would make if He were here on earth. When that happens, we will see our faith in action. We will give sight to the blind. We will heal lame legs. We will rebuke devils and they will flee. Church, I’m personally looking forward to that day. Amen? Amen!
Why was Jesus always obedient to the Father? Was he born that way? If he wasn’t, then what do we see in his life that can help us become obedient like him?
Hebrews 5:8, Luke 2:52
The word “increased” in this verse means “to drive forward (as if by beating).” What does this tell us? Jesus was not born with full wisdom and full stature or the full favor of God. I know that’s hard for some of you to believe but what does this verse say?
Notice also the definition includes “as if by beating”. It means Jesus didn’t always do what he wanted to do. He did what the Father wanted him to do and to do that meant he had to, listen to me, beat back his own desires and his own thoughts. If we’re going to “drive our faith forward” we’re going to have to make some decisions about how we’re living.
So, how did the obedience come? A key is found in Luke 7. Israel, at this time, had been conquered by the Roman Empire. The guy we’re about to read about is one of those responsible for enforcing Roman law over Israel. Yet, this Roman, this Gentile, comes to Jesus because he has a need. Now with this background, let’s pick it up in verse 1.
• Notice here in verse 2 that the person was a centurion, a Roman soldier. He was responsible for 100 men.
• In verse 3 the centurion asked the local Jewish leaders to approach Jesus on his behalf for his servant. This servant was a doulos. I want you to note what the centurion was willing to do for the slave he loved. (Now think about what Jesus was willing to do for those of us who were slaves to the sin nature.)
• After reading verses 4-7. Just before Jesus arrived at the centurion’s home, he sends friends to tell Jesus that he is not worthy of his presence in his home. It sounds like the man is being humble doesn’t it? But I want you to consider something. We know from this passage that the man loved the Jewish nation. That would mean that he would know a little something about how the Jews interacted with the Gentles, right? He would have known that a Rabbi was not supposed to enter the home of a Gentile. Could it be that what the centurion is really doing here is showing Jesus respect because he’s a Jew?
• After reading verses 8-10. How did the centurion come to the place of having “great faith”? The answer is found in verse 8. “For I also am a man SET UNDER AUTHORITY…”
• The word “set” means “arranged, drawn up in order.” It describes someone who follows instructions, directives every day.
• “I am a man whose daily course of life and duty is appointed and arranged by a superior authority.”
The centurion was a man who had been “set under authority”. Now let’s think about how you get to be a person like this.
Being “set under authority” is something that doesn’t appeal to most people, including Christians. Most want to have the final “say” in what they will and will not do and what they will and will not believe. (“Evangelicals and Homosexual Children”) Most Christians today, quite honestly, are in rebellion to God. Too many of them are “Me Trees.” I kind of like that – Me Trees. Sound like a good sermon title!
This is how the centurion became one who was “set under authority.” He didn’t join the Roman army as a centurion. He had to work his way up to the position. When he joined the army, for our purposes, as a private, every time he received an order, or in the case of Christian, an instruction, he obeyed it. He did what he was told. And he didn’t do anything opposite of what he was told. Now listen to this part: he didn’t do less than what he was told and he didn’t do more than what he was told. He did exactly what he was told. What his superior said was gospel. He did this the entire time he was promoted up the ranks. And because of his willingness to obey, his superiors knew that he loved Rome. They knew he was willing to give his life for Rome.
How many of us are this obedient? How many of us have been given instructions (the Bible) and are doing and believing exactly what it says to do and believe? Keeping the analogy of the centurion in mind, the degree to which you are freely doing and believing what the Bible says is a demonstration of how much you love Jesus. I’m going to say that again – it’s that important. (Repeat)
There is no way the centurion would have continued up the ranks if he didn’t love Rome and was willing to die for Rome. So many Christians today are not even willing to stand up for the kingdom of God in the face of morally reprehensible behavior. They hide behind the lie – “a person has the right to live the way he wants to live.” It’s a lie because Jesus didn’t die to give you the right to live the way you want to live.
He died so that you could change and live the way he wants you to live! Why? Because if you live any other way you are going to spend an eternity in the lake of fire and not in heaven. Anyone who says “Jesus loves me just like I am” doesn’t know the Jesus I know. He loves you, yes, but not for you to stay in the same condition you were when the two of you first met!
The centurion, because he was a man “set under authority,” not only had 100 solders but the entire Roman army available to him. If a riot broke out that he and his men couldn’t handle, all he had to do was get a message to Rome and thousands upon thousands of soldiers would soon be marching into the city. Does this sound familiar? When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, didn’t Jesus say he could ask his Father for 12 legions of angels if he needed them?
The centurion said he was ALSO a man set under authority. He said that when he told his servants to do something, they did it. They didn’t ask questions. They simply followed orders. When he spoke, his servants and his soldiers moved. The centurion recognized that Jesus held this same type of status with God. When Jesus spoke, because he was “set under authority” of God Almighty, Heaven moved for him. All Jesus had to do was speak the word and it was done.
The Roman centurion didn’t start out a centurion. He had to be trained. He had to work his way up to that status. Remember we read about Jesus increasing in wisdom and status and in favor with God and man? Jesus had to “work his way up” to that status. That’s how he became a man (son) “set under authority.” Now, if Jesus had to “work his way up” to that status by being obedient to the Father, then that means that when we get born again we don’t automatically have “set under authority” status. And yet there are so many who preach and teach that we do.
“Set under authority” status is given to men and women who have demonstrated their willingness to follow orders and who love their kingdom so much that what people say doesn’t matter to them.
You don’t give “set under authority” status to a private in the army who has not demonstrated obedience to authority and love for his country. You don’t give “set under authority” status to a baby Christian who has not demonstrated obedience to authority and love or his country (the kingdom of God). Let me be clear: it’s not going to happen. And that’s why so many of us are not living lives of power and authority over the devil and the things of this world. Too many of us are in rebellion, and because we are, we are living outside of faith.
Now let’s rap this up. The Roman centurion recognized that Jesus was a man “set under authority.”
Do you see verse 8? Jesus humbled himself and became obedient unto death. And because he did this, verse 9 says that there is no name anywhere higher than the name of Jesus. Now make the connection. Being “set under authority” means that you have humbled yourself before God and that your life is not your own. You are willing to die for the kingdom of God. When I say die for the kingdom, I’m not talking about literally dying. A good way to think about this would be the death of your reputation, or the death of your name, of the death of good things people think or say about you. Didn’t Jesus say if they hated me they will hate you also?
But how many Christians do you think are truly willing to die for the kingdom of God? Based on what we’re seeing in our country today, not many. To paraphrase Hebrews 11:6, to the degree to which you humble yourself and are willingly obedient to God is the degree to which you will have faith that pleases him. And when you are obedient, then God can “set you under His authority” so that you will have the kind of faith where “nothing will be impossible to you.”