It is well known that “grass” and “weed” can have multiple meanings in contemporary English.
The same is true for “power” in the Greek language. “Power” and “authority” refer to the same Greek word.
Concerning God’s power, Dallas Willard has defined the kingdom of God as the “effective reach of God’s power.”
When Jesus began his ministry he proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1.15).
Jesus was basically saying, “The effective reach of God’s power is near to you. Change your mind about who has authority over your life and believe that this is good news.”
More than Talk
It is one thing to “talk the talk,” but can someone “walk the talk”? At the beginning of his Galilean ministry, Jesus showed that he could both “talk” and “walk” out the truth of his claims.
Capernaum was a fairly large city with a population of 10,000. It was near the Sea of Galilee and the fishing trade furnished the people a good living.
The city was large enough to have 100 Roman soldiers with a centurion in command. The centurion had a valued slave who was at the point of death.
He had heard about Jesus’ healing ministry and wanted his assistance.
The centurion was respectful of the Jewish culture and asked some Jewish leaders to appeal to Jesus for help on his behalf.
Jesus agreed to help the slave, but the centurion sent someone to say to Jesus: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof;
“Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.
“For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it” (Luke 7.6-8)
The centurion understood the dual meaning of “authority” and “power.” His authority gave him power over the soldiers under his command.
He believed that Jesus had “authority” over sickness and could use his “power” to command sickness, just as he commanded his troops.
Who is in Control Here?
When Jesus proclaimed the presence of the kingdom of God, he was stating that the effective reach of God’s power was present on earth. That meant God was in control.
The centurion recognized Jesus authority and that he was in control over the health of his servant.
The Gospel of Luke frequently features people who believed that Jesus had authority and power. They followed him because they believed he was the Ultimate One in charge.
Luke exposed another group of people who refused Jesus’ authority, power and control. They resisted his authority with extreme measures. The devil was and is the force behind all humans who resist Jesus (Luke 4.1-13).
When we recognize that the effective reach of God’s power is present on earth, our response should be to change our minds and trust that God’s rule is so good that we begin living under his authority.
Promise + Fulfillment + Response
The pattern of promise + fulfillment + response is evident in the centurion’s reaction to Jesus. In his case he responded to the belief that Jesus had authority and power over sickness.
The fulfillment came after his trusting response.
— Luke 7.9-10 – When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
This is not the first time that people trusted Jesus before they received his assistance.
— Luke 4.40-41; 6.18-19 – Crowds of people demonstrated their faith by traveling to Jesus for healing.
— Luke 5.12-15 – A leper believed that if it was Jesus’ will, he could heal him.
— Luke 5.17-25 – Jesus remarked at the faith of four friends who worked very hard to get a friend to Jesus for healing.
Our behavior demonstrates the reality of our faith.
Jesus probes our inside condition and reflects the reality of it back to us. He challenges false faith with a clarifying statement:
“You do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6.46).
When we pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6.10), we ask for the reach of God’s power to be effective on earth.
If we believe it is good news for God to rule the world, we will respond by doing God’s will, just as it is done in heaven (Matthew 6.10).
Even though the centurion did not share the religion of Israel, he understood these principles. Let’s follow his example and trust in Jesus’ power and authority in our lives.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a video on this topic. In the video Rudy rightly focuses on the faith component of this experience, while I center on the authority and power of Jesus.
You can see the video on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.