A short excerpt from “Reaching for Healing”:
This rough, battle hardened centurion recognised Jesus as a man with authority and, therefore, as someone under authority. He recognised, as others did, a kingdom force behind this ordinary looking man in sandals, and Mark’s gospel helps us understand how. Right at the start of Jesus’ ministry we are told that:
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” (Mark 1:27)
Jesus’ teaching was fresh, opening the windows on the stale air of the religious leaders’ doctrines, but it was the miracles, most of all, that demonstrated his authority. He “drove out evil spirits with a word” (Matthew 8:16–17), commanded a paralysed man and even a dead girl to get up (Matthew 9:1–8; Luke 8:54), and told a leper to “Be clean” (Matthew 8:1–5). Jesus told sick bodies what to do, and they did it. He told demons to leave, and they left.
Jesus said that he could do nothing on his own: “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing” (John 5:19–20). He was chosen, anointed, qualified, and sent into the world to carry out a divine commission. The centurion saw in Jesus something that he recognised: a man under authority backed up by the immense power of an unstoppable empire.
But it wasn’t just Jesus who exercised this sort of authority; his disciples did too…