#37: Amazing

Mark 6:4–6

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Luke 7:2–9

There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But 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; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”

It takes quite a bit to be, not just surprised, but amazed. Amazed, it is a ‘Well, I didn’t see that one coming!’ or ‘I would never have believed it!’ or a ‘That is completely outside my whole way of thinking!’ experience. It is even harder to be amazed, to be truly gob smacked, if you are Jesus. A lot of people seem to think that Jesus had all the knowledge, power and insight of God built into his genes and flowing in his blood. In which case it would be impossible to be amazed. On the other hand if Jesus was the Son of God born to be a totally ‘one of us’ mortal man then amazement becomes a normal human experience. So if your version of Jesus is of a spiritual ‘Superman’ rather than a human ‘Godly Man’ then you need to adjust the picture.

There are two places in the Gospels where we read of Jesus being amazed. One is negative and the other a very positive attack of amazement.

His first ‘amazing experience’ was when he preached the Good News, healed the sick and brought release from possession in his home town of Nazareth. The people who knew him said “No Thanks” and he was amazed at their unbelief in him.

The second ‘amazement story’ is the big one. A Roman centurion i.e. a high ranking officer, was willing to humiliate himself by asking a lowly village teacher and healer to heal his servant. Not only that but he doesn’t think Jesus need come to his house to do it, just give the order. Jesus was ‘amazed’, ‘blown away’, ‘made to think again’, ‘forced to widen his vision’ by the man’s belief in him. In a world of weariness, routine, greyness and ‘things are ok’ true amazement can be a beautiful, ‘flash in the sky’ and uplifting experience and encounter.

Here are a few of my own recent amazement stories:

I travel around lots of different churches in my work. Many, in fact most, of them are great faith places. However I am sometimes disappointingly amazed when I find a place with little fire, passion and expectancy.
My wife, Maureen, recently organised and ran a ‘Start’ group, a sort of little course for people who want to find out about God. I was amazed at her courage and how well it went.
Two young twenty something men recently came for a meal. They are big night out boys with big gymed up muscles and tattooed bodies. In other words just the sort of people who do not normally come to church. I was amazed at how hungry they were to find out about Jesus.
My son, Phillip, has a deep, servant like and very committed faith. It is rather hidden away with not a lot of surface froth and emotion. I was amazed when he went on a charismatic holiday convention. I was even more amazed when he phoned up half way through the week to talk to me about how the worship was uplifting and how the Holy Spirit had spoken to him.

Of course the key thing for us to ponder is ‘What will amaze Jesus when he looks into our life today?’

Lord Jesus,
Help me to see.
To live and follow,
To trust and accept,
That you will be amazed,
When you look at me.