Monday, October 15, 2012

A Man Under Authority

I too am a man 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 servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. - Matthew 8:9
One of the most amazing conversations in scripture occurs between an Army Captain and Jesus of Nazareth, concerning authority. This Army Captain, also called a Centurion, recognized that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, had all authority in Heaven and Earth, and that Jesus did not need to accomplish his will by doing all work personally and in proximity, but that his authority was more than capable of ruling the Universe from any distance. Reading the whole story (Matthew 8:5-13), we see that Jesus laud’s the man’s faith for recognizing that Jesus was the Lord of Armies, the Captain of captains, the King of Earth, and that all of Creation was directly under his authority.

The Centurion knew that just by ordering his men to accomplish a task that it would be brought to completion simply by his authority, and based on this, he recognized that Jesus Christ could order his subordinates to do exactly as he said as well, in this case to, “be well.

This is an amazing point in scripture, and one which I am especially blessed to be able to understand, being a Non-Commissioned Officer myself. In the civilian world, we often ask others to do things, but in the military world, asking is not efficient and is detrimental to rank structure; orders are given and followed out. Disobedience is unacceptable and punished swiftly and accordingly. Paul Washer makes this point well concerning God’s authority:
He looks at stars and He says “all you stars move yourself to this place and start in this order and move in a circle and move exactly as I tell you, until I give you another word. Planets-pick yourself up and whirl, make this formation at my command, until I give you another word.” He looks at mountains and says “be lifted up” and they obey him. He tells valleys “be cast down” and they obey him. He looks at the sea and says “you will come this far and no farther”, and the sea obeys. Then, he looks at you and says “come” and you say “NO!
If such rebellion were found in the military, instant action would be taken, at best this person would no longer be in the military, at worst, court-martial. God’s punishment is swift and commensurate with the rebellion.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
__the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
__and terrify them in his fury.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
__be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
__and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son,
__lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
__for his wrath is quickly kindled. - Psalm 2:4-5,10-12
The wrath of God is slow in coming, he is patient and kind, he has much forbearance, but his justice is advancing for all rebels against his authority. He commands us to love one another, and yet to a man, each one of his has disobeyed this order by lying to each other, stealing from one another, speaking in anger towards one another, causing much strife, division, rebellion, and death in God’s Creation. He commands our absolute loyalty to his kingdom, yet we use his name in vain, and by so doing, we declare war on the King of Heaven (Psalm 73:9), and many even go so far as to deny the Despot (absolute authority and power) who created them (2 Peter 2:1).

This gross insubordination will not go unpunished; even while many scoff that Christ’s authority has failed or never existed, because his patience is interpreted as inaction. Do not be deceived, one day is to the Creator of Time as a thousand years are to us, and vice-versa, his authority fails not.

And this punishment will not be carried out by some lowly Staff-Sergeant, or a mere General Officer, or some piddly ArchAngel, the wrath of God will be delivered upon men by the King himself,
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. - Revelation 19:11-16
And
I trod them in my anger
__and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
__and stained all my apparel.
For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
__and my year of redemption had come. - Isaiah 63:3-4
The authority of the Lord of Armies is inescapable, he is prepared to make a total war upon his enemies. His enemies therefore should be without hope, for this God does not lose wars, but this King is also a God of Love, and full of grace. Dear reader, I cannot forgive your sins any more than I could pardon a traitor sentenced to die by courts-martial. I do not have that authority, for your sin is against the Kingdom of Heaven, a higher court than any man can ascend to, of purer eyes than any of us can look upon.

But, the King himself, though rich and with absolute peace and honor and dominion in Heaven, stepped down to subject himself to the taunts, ridicule, insubordination, and rebellion of this fallen and wicked world. Himself, the Son of God, became the Son of Man, submitting himself perfectly to the authority and will of his Father. The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

And he says something astonishing, “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6).” Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, went to a cross to face the condemnation befitting his enemies, where he faced the full wrath of his Father, found guilty in-spite of his perfect innocence, his guilt not his own, but that of rebels, paying a unimaginable price for the pardon of those same people who constantly despised and raged against his authority.

Because of his perfect obedience, his Father has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, raised him from the dead, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

His authority is absolute, it is complete, and every knee will bow by his authority. Dear reader, today bow the knee in submission to the Lord of Armies, recognizing his absolute authority, do it willingly, for one day your knee will bow to him, and if not willingly, then forcibly.

He has authority to end life and to give it, to punish sins and to forgive them; place your faith in him today and repent of your rebellion, and be assured that by his perfect authority: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. - Psalm 2:12

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