June 8, 2018
READ: Matthew 8:5-13
The officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed” (v.8).
During the American Civil War, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was tasked with defending the left flank of the Union Army. Running low on ammunition and knowing that the outcome of the battle depended on the defence of their position, Chamberlain ordered his soldiers to fix bayonets and charge the enemy on foot. As outlandish as this order must have seemed, his soldiers obeyed his orders and pushed back their attackers. Through their courage, they prevented the defeat of the Union Army.
It’s difficult to understand Matthew 8 without some insight into the military in which the “Roman officer” served (v.5). Roman soldiers were well known for their obedience. They were expected to carry out any order their commanding officer issued or face extreme punishment.
The Roman officer in Matthew 8 would have been well-acquainted with this type of absolute authority. And he recognised that this is the type of authority Jesus commands. In the same way that the officer gave orders and they were immediately carried out, so it was with Jesus. With just a word from the Saviour, the Roman officer’s servant was “healed that same hour” (v.13). Jesus demonstrated His authority even over nature, commanding waves with just a word (Mark 4:39). Like a general over his troops, Jesus’ authority over all things is absolute.
While this is certainly a humbling realisation, we should remember that the mighty authority of Christ is matched by His wisdom and love for us. A general might order his troops to destroy, but Jesus used His power to heal the Roman officer’s servant, to quell the waves that threatened His disciples and to conquer our enemies of sin and death by His sacrifice on the cross. We serve Christ—our compassionate Commander.
365-day plan: Luke 1:57-80
Read Philippians 2:5-11 to be reminded of the character of Christ—the humble Saviour before whom every knee will bow.
How does Jesus’ power and authority encourage you? How does it comfort you that His power is used with compassion and grace?