The faith of the Roman centurion was so great that Jesus said it exceeded the faith of any Jew He had ever met. This commander of 100 Roman soldiers understood the matter of authority. He told Jesus that He did not have to go to his home to cure his slave, all He had to do was to give the command.
He understood this because he understood the nature of authority. He said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Matt. 8:8-9).
It is amazing that so many have trouble understanding authority in religious matters. That soldier under the authority of this great man of faith could so readily figure out what his response should be. If the centurion told him to come, he would come. If he said go, he would go. If he said do this, he did it. When he heard the centurion’s command to come, he did not go. If the command was go, he did not come. If the command was do this, he did not do that! Isn’t it amazing how easily the matter was settled.
When it comes to religious authority, the principle is precisely the same. Jesus is truly our Commander-in-chief, for He has all authority in heaven and on earth. The fact that He has all authority leaves no authority for those of us who have committed ourselves to Him. The process is as simple as the arrangement in the armies in Rome. That soldier stood before his commander awaiting an order. When the order was given, he just did what he was told to do. Why is it that we struggle with this principle today? Like the Roman foot-soldier we stand before the Commander awaiting an order. When the order is given, we just do what He tells us to do.
If the command is believe, we believe. If the command is be baptized, we are baptized. If the command is to worship Him according to truth, we worship Him in that way. If the command is abstain from those lusts which war against the soul, we abstain. If the command is sexual purity, we live sexually pure. If the command is to not put asunder what God joins together, we do not put asunder. If the command is to not forsake assembling together, we do not forsake worship. If the command is to love or submit to our mates, we love or submit to them.
The basis of great faith is tied directly to understanding authority. Do I really have faith, if I do not obey?