Summary: By healing the centurion’s servant, Jesus establishes his power over the material world, but it’s the spiritual reality of faith to which Jesus draws our attention.
• Most of us are acquainted with the ideas of formal and informal authority.
• Formal authority is attached to someone’s title or position.
• More often, though, people have informal authority over us.
• We’ll listen to the people we trust and do what they ask because we trust them.
• If we don’t trust leaders, even if they have formal authority over us, we will often do everything we can to avoid doing what they tell us to do.
• More to the point, in his classic Leadership without Easy Answers, Ronald Heifetz defines authority as “conferred power to perform a service.”
• He notes that all authority, ultimately, is conferred. (Given over to another, bestowed or awarded to another)
• It’s given, if even subconsciously by one—or many—to another.
• Accordingly, authority is conferred to some more easily than to others.
“Not all authority relationships are the product of a conscious and deliberate conferring of power. Often, they are produced by habitual deference” (Ronald A. Heifetz, Leadership without Easy Answers [Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1994], 57–58).
• Today as we continue with our “The Power of the Gospel series, we are going to examine an event that punctuates not only the power of Jesus but the authority of Jesus.
• In this episode, Jesus demonstrates His power with an act of healing. While this story is remembered for the healing of the centurion’s servant, it is notable that the attention is focused on the faith of the centurion himself and how it pleased Jesus.
• Later in the Gospels, observers will marvel as Jesus walks on water (Matthew 8:27) and at the healing of a paralyzed man, but on the other hand, Jesus marvels at our faith.
• A real focus on the faith of the people with whom Jesus interacts is a pattern we’ll see often.
• In fact, this episode is one of Jesus’s first public acts of ministry following the Sermon on the Mount.
• Nevertheless, Jesus also wants the people to trust him. They must confer authority to him. Only then will obedience flow out of awe and love, from Jesus’s formal and informal authority, respectively.
• The authority of Jesus is an important concept to grasp because if we do not understand, respect, and submit to His authority, we will rebel and fight with Him all the days of our life, either consciously or unconsciously.
• The BIG IDEA for the message today is: By healing the centurion’s servant, Jesus establishes his power over the material world, but it’s the spiritual reality of faith to which Jesus draws our attention.
• Let’s turn to Matthew 8, we will begin with verses 5-7.
Matthew 8:5–7 CSB
5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, pleading with him,
6 “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony.”
7 He said to him, “Am I to come and heal him?”
I. The need for faith in the authority of Jesus.
• There comes a time in life when we are faced with a situation we cannot handle on our own.
• Many of us are independent and prideful and we are used to being able to take care of business on our own.
• Going back to the thoughts on the issue of authority, we have a tendency to resist authority, especially if said authority gets in the way of what we want to do with life.
• We go through life thinking we are in control, thinking that we can live life however we want, and if there is a God, He will let me into His kingdom on my terms.
• Then something happens to many of us that serve as a wake-up call, something happens that brings us to the breaking point.
• Our illusion is shattered, we can no longer fool ourselves into thinking our construct is true.
• We ultimately face something that is bigger than ourselves and we begin to realize just how much we need to place our faith in something other than ourselves.
• The ministry of Jesus is marked by three Passover celebrations.
• The first year of ministry is marked by the first Passover which took place in 27 AD found in John 2:13-23.
• Year two, which is where our text finds us today is found in John 5:1, the date is 28 AD.
• The final year of His ministry begins with the Passover celebration found in John 6:4, in the year 29 AD.
• Passover usually took place on a date in March to May, much like our Easter celebration.
• Jesus was at the Passover Celebration in Jerusalem in roughly March of 28 AD. Jesus was in Jerusalem where He healed the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5).