This is a picture of my husband Barry at the gym using a seated leg press. His knees are bent, ready to push 750 freakin’ lbs.! Not bad for a 71-year-old gym rat, right?
Every weekend he completes an impressive routine designed to work his muscles to exhaustion. At home he studies an illustrated strength training book picturing all the muscle groups and exercises for each of them. Every morning he hits the floor to do 100 full plank pushups. Because he is willing to study and find the time to exercise, he is physically fit for his age and maintains an ideal body weight.
As remarkable as his routine is, I am even more impressed when I see him in the morning get down on his knees next to the kitchen table, bow his head and recite The Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9. He mentions me, our family members, and friends with specific needs in his morning prayers. Then he gets up and reads from the Bible while he eats his cereal. Sometimes he reads me a verse that stands out to him, and we discuss it. Over time his behavior has noticeably improved with more peace and patience. His investment in prayer and Bible reading has paid off that way. For as long as he is living, he is learning.
Barry’s trust in God’s Word to produce faith in his life is exactly what Jesus commended the Roman Centurion for. The scene is documented in Matthew 8:6-10. Jesus had a far-reaching reputation for healing the sick and people know if they went to Him, they could be healed.
When Jesus entered the city of Capernaum, a Centurion came to Jesus asking Him to heal his servant who was paralyzed. Jesus agreed and was willing to go to him. The Centurion stopped Him, though, saying he was unworthy for Jesus to visit his Gentile home, a humble admission for one with such high military status.
This was the officer’s request instead. “…just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority with soldiers under me. I say to this one ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another ‘Come!’ and he comes and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it!’” (Matthew 8:9)
Jesus was incredulous and commended him for his great faith. He hadn’t seen such a display of faith in all Israel among the people who should have known the power of God’s Word. Let me paraphrase the Centurion’s confession to Jesus. “Just say the word and my servant will be healed. You don’t have to be physically present with him. Your word carries all the power needed for him to be made well.” He compared Jesus’ words to his soldiers who go forth to carry out his orders. In response, Jesus commanded healing from a distance and the servant was completely healed that day!
Jesus proved His authority over all nature as described in Matthew 8:25-26. Jesus and the Disciples were in a boat going across the Sea of Galilee when a great storm occurred. Sizable waves crashing into the boat threatened to capsize it, yet Jesus was sleeping peacefully. The Disciples woke Him saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” (Matthew 8:25)
In contrast to the Centurion, the Disciples came up short in their faith. “He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘what kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!’” (Matthew 8:26)
What does this mean for us today? Jesus’ power has never changed. He retains His authority over all nature and that authority is embodied in God’s Word, the Bible. Jesus does not have to be physically present to heal us and calm our storms. When we pray and read the Bible, the Holy Spirit is actively present and will implement God’s power as needed.
Bible reading and prayer makes us inwardly strong and wise to deal with life’s situations as they come. Our minds can be corrected and re-calibrated to expect help from Heaven. Living everyday with that perspective, we will see God rule in our natural circumstances and move on our behalf. Like Barry’s gym routine, we need to study and invest some time to see the results.
Heaven’s constituents acknowledge firsthand the position of authority that Jesus holds. “Then I heard a loud voice in Heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ!’” (Revelation 12:10) We can join with the heavenly host to celebrate the authority of Christ by accepting Him and believing everything He says in His Word.