By Lisa Karon Richardson
During His earthly ministry Jesus often surprised people. The Gospels mention the amazement of the crowds at least 26 times. Jesus astonished them.
For a nation that was looking for a Messiah they were shocked when He came. He changed everything for them. He forced them to look at their religion differently. He made them understand that God was just as interested in their attitude as He was their actions.
It can be hard for us to imagine just how revolutionary His teaching was. There was no other way to describe the effect that it had on people but to say that they marveled.
But the Bible only records that Jesus marveled twice. What could cause God to be amazed?
It wasn’t the beauty of nature. After all He was the creator and had formed it all in the beginning.
He didn’t gape at the architecture men had created to impress one another.
He wasn’t impressed by how clever men were.
In both cases, what amazed Jesus was the way in which people responded to Him.
The first instance is found in Mark 6. Jesus has been traveling throughout the countryside teaching and doing miracles. Finally he returns to His hometown of Nazareth. In verse 2 He goes into the synagogue and teaches. And as usual He amazes the people.
But instead of giving glory to God and welcoming Him, Verse 3 says that they “took offense” at Him. In other words they became angry with Jesus. They recognized the power that He had but they rejected Him because they knew Him and His family.
Verse 6 says that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.
The other instance we find of Jesus being amazed is found in Matthew 8:5-10. A Roman Centurion comes to Him to ask that He would heal a sick servant. Jesus is willing to go with the soldier, but the centurion stops Him. His response to meeting Jesus is the opposite of those in Nazareth. He says: “I am not worthy for you to come into my house. Just say the word and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one “Go” and he goes, this one “Come” and he comes.
This Roman recognized Jesus’ power and authority and responded to it. Though uncircumcised, this mere soldier knew that Jesus did not have to go to the servant in order for His will to be carried out.
Verse 10 says that when Jesus heard this He marveled because of the great faith that the man had. Jesus had never encountered such faith before, not even among the chosen people of Israel.
In both cases it was the faith of the people involved that caused Jesus to marvel.
The people of Nazareth had just as much evidence of His power and authority as the centurion, but they responded in a totally different manner. Their attitude of unbelief caused them to lose out. The Centurion got what he requested from the Lord, his need was answered. But in Nazareth, Jesus did no great miracles. He only healed a few sick people.
When we look closely at the scripture, we realize that faith is impotent without action. The centurion didn’t stay at home and worry about his servant. He took action. He believed Jesus could heal the servant. So he found Jesus. He asked for the needed healing and he further demonstrated his faith by acknowledging that Jesus didn’t have to do anything but speak for the miracle to be accomplished.
Faith is not dormant, it is not asleep. It is active and alive.
James 2:20 “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
We may not always act on what we say we believe, but we will always act on what we believe. If we think a hurricane is coming we will act on it. If we don’t think the storm is coming then we will just go on like normal.
When my sister and I were pre-teens my Mom had to take a job one summer. We were assigned to baby sit one another. That worked pretty well (except for when it didn’t!) Each day she would leave a list of chores and we had to have them done before she got home. That wasn’t our favorite part of the arrangement but we would work on them and we usually had them done when she got home. One day though we knew that Mom had had a rough week and we got to talking and we decided to do more than our chores. We worked hard all day long and we cleaned the entire house. Sweeping, mopping, dusting, laundry, dishes. All of it! Now when my Mom got home she was so surprised and happy, that we all went out to supper that night as a family. Let me tell you, that was a treat at our house. And although it wasn’t our motive, it was a reward for being such good helpers.
There’s a much more important banquet laid out in heaven that I want to go to. My faith is not exercised solely to obtain that goal, but I can’t wait to reach it. And I guess I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want just to make it by the hair of my chinny chin chin. I want to amaze God as much as He amazes me. My new goal is to try to out do the Centurion.
It won’t be easy but I am learning to trust Him absolutely.
What spiritual goal are you working on right now?