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August 24

Matthew 8, 8-9

Something to read

The centurion answered, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also 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 slave, "Do this", and the slave does it.'
New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James Version, click here

Something to think about

This centurion may be asking for a miracle, but he has not suspended his rational judgement. He knows how things get done in this world. It's through the exercise of power and authority.

That's why he's part of a ruling power many miles from his home country. That's how success comes. It's not the best that rise to the top – it's the most ruthless, and that ruthlessness goes right to the top through the structures of power. 

This is the centurion's world, and he just assumes that, since Jesus is clearly such a success, his world must operate in the same kind of way. It's a strange kind of faith, but it's his – and Jesus honours it.

And of course there's a truth in it. Jesus has precisely this authority and power, even though he exercises it more in the style of the servant he is asked to heal than that of the centurion that is asking for help. That authority of Christ is a truth we need to be reminded of today.

Something to do

Write down all the authorities you work under – at work, as a citizen in society, and so on. Then put them in order, putting the most ruthless at the top and the most Christ-like at the bottom.

Something to pray

Master, I acknowledge your ultimate authority over my life. Thank you for the gracious way in which you exercise it. Grant me grace to act like you within the authority structures I am part of in society.

Today's contributor is JUST LIVING, a fresh expression of church in Devon devoted to the Christian pursuit of justice for the poor and closely linked to Christian Aid.


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