Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
This is a famous story, but do we really understand it? Luke 7 clarifies that the centurion didn’t actually go to Jesus himself, but asked some of the local Jewish elders to go deliver his request. That is to say, he thought that as a Gentile he might not be received, but Jewish intermediaries might have a better chance. That, along with his declaration, recorded both here and in Luke, that he wasn’t worthy of Jesus coming under his roof, shows an admirable humility that I think was inseparable from his faith. He knew authority when he saw it, being a man of not inconsiderable authority himself, and his faith, that astonished Jesus, was that Jesus had authority in areas that he knew he couldn’t touch. I think that too often, when we pray we don’t really believe that God can or will do what we are asking. The centurion didn’t have such reservations. After all, as a military commander he didn’t allow “wiggle room” for those under him when he told them to do something! We are totally subservient to and dependent on God, whether we acknowledge it or not. When we make requests of Him we need to be as ready to obey Him as that centurion’s legionnaires were to obey him. In proclaiming Jesus’ authority, the centurion was placing himself under that authority, and that was indeed astonishing. That’s the sort of faith we need to have!
I have lots of room to grow in exercising faith. I pray frequently and freely, but at times I wonder whether my faith and obedience are up to the task. I tend to make excuses for God, in case He doesn’t do what I’m asking! I have certainly experienced the Holy Spirit guiding my prayers, so I need to trust that He will continue to do so, with the complete assurance that when I pray in line with God’s will, what I ask is already done. I’ll be quoting Mark 11:24 in Sunday’s message on Answers to Prayer, and that’s still shocking to me: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I want to walk in that kind of absolute assurance, but to do so I need to walk in complete obedience as well. Jesus’ authority is absolute, (Matthew 28:18) but to operate in it I need to be absolutely submitted to Him.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. There are times when I long to be with You out of this body, so that there can be total communication and fellowship. I get so distracted by so many things! Help me recognize Your authority to the point that I operate consistently under it and in it, so that Your perfect will may be done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!