amazed –adjective; greatly surprise; astounded; suddenly filled with wonder
What amazes you? What greatly surprises, astounds, or suddenly fills you with wonder? It can be negative or positive. How often do you stand amazed in your everyday life? Have you lost it, the ability to be totally awe-struck?
I did a little informal poll of some friends and asked them what amazed them. Here is a sampling of their answers: “the life cycle from fertilization of a microscopic egg to a living, breathing, learning, eating human being,” “how resilient children are,” “how the eyeball works,” “how much money it takes to get through life,” “how hard the enemy will work to distract you, discourage you, and damage you, then how much harder the Lord works to restore you, love you, and call you back to His presence when you feel like it’s hopeless,” “watching children grow in their giftings,” “the tension of abortion and infertility in our culture,” “how many times a kid can say mom before I can answer,” “how chocolate or wine can make my day better,””how people can look at the same situation with completely different opinions,” “breast milk- how it constantly gives my baby what she needs. How do boobs and milk know what to do? :)” I have smart friends.
Here are a few of mine: vanilla coke. The simple goodness of it and its power over me is astounding. I am amazed that a man (a man similar to my husband, let’s say) can help run a multi-$$$ whatever company, can speak a language I have never heard when he gets a business call, but if there is ever a mess on the floor- pee, puke, a spill of some sort- he is only capable of throwing a towel over it, assuming that the towel has magical powers to clean up the mess, erase the stain, and then pick itself up, wash itself, and put itself away. I am amazed that a certain man can successfully evaluate katrillion (I don’t know) dollar deals but is completely confused by brooms and dishwashers. I am amazed that children that are starving at 5pm (for a snack), are decidedly not hungry at 6pm when actual food is placed in front of them. I am also completely in wonder of any and all things to do with the ocean. I am a sponge for information about it. Give me every documentary and book having to do with its eco-systems. I will talk about it all day long. Shark Week is like a national holiday in this house.
My greatest dream is to swim with the whale sharks or cage dive with the white sharks. I would totally do it. I sobbed the entire whale watching tour my husband took me on. I could watch the manatees at home in Florida forever. I never tire of it. They amaze me.
Do you know that Jesus was amazed when He walked the earth? We read in the Word of two times Jesus was amazed. Doesn’t that seem strange? How can Jesus, being completely God and all-knowing, experience an emotion that left him astounded, surprised, and filled with wonder? I think it is worth diving into.
The first instance is recorded in Mark 6:1-6. Jesus and His disciples returned to His home town of Nazareth, and on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue there. The hometown crowd was amazed first saying things like, “Where did He get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles? He’s just a carpenter, Mary’s kid. His brothers and sisters live right down the road.” Do you see their amazement quickly turned to doubt, indignation, and jealousy? Ultimately, the NLT of verse 3 says, “They were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him.” Jesus responds to them by saying, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And then it we read this amazing statement in verse 6:
“And because of their unbelief, He couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. HE WAS AMAZED AT THEIR LACK OF FAITH.”
The next time Jesus was amazed was a bit of a different scenario. The scene takes place in Luke 7:1-10. There was a Roman centurion who had a servant that he highly valued and had become very sick- to the point of death. The centurion had heard about Jesus and His power to heal, so he sent some Jewish elders to ask Him to come and help. They find Jesus and tell Him that this is a really good guy who has done some great things for their nation and deserves His help. Jesus agrees and heads that way. Before He gets to the man’s house, He is met by a group of the centurion’s friends with a message. They give Jesus this message from the centurion: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, “Do this,’ they do it.”
“When Jesus heard this, HE WAS AMAZED. Turning to the crowd that was following Him, He said, ‘I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!’ And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.”
Jesus was amazed two different times, for two different reasons, with two different results, but the common thread was faith: his hometown crowd’s lack of it, and the Roman centurion’s abundance of it. The faith of the people seem to be the fuel that either enabled Jesus’ miracles or hindered them. There is a lot here I don’t understand exactly and I cannot articulate completely, like how an omniscient God could be amazed and an omnipotent God can be affected by man’s level of faith, but there it is. That is what we read.
What do we do with this? How can we apply it? Are we just going to let these words be stories in a book? How can the Nazarenes’ disbelief and the centurion’s bold belief be used to shape us today? The question I have to ask myself is what does my faith look like? Would Jesus be amazed at the lack of it, or the abundance of it? Really I have to ask, is He amazed by my belief or my disbelief? What about yours’? Do we depend on our own experiences to define our level of faith, or do we look to the scriptures?
We read in Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.” Like, nothing. That hard marriage? No. That kid that can’t seem to catch up in school? Nope. That situation with your in-law’s? By no means. That severed friendship? Absolutely not. That financial mountain? Negative. That stronghold of fear? No way. That diagnosis? Uh-uh. I mean, those are all somethings, and it says NOTHING, so I guess they are all covered.
BUT DO WE BELIEVE IT?
What is your faith level? Is it fuel for a miracle or is it a big hindrance to one? I know every single one of us can look to a situation that we have lived through or know of where the miracle didn’t come, and maybe it is extra confusing because the faith was there. What is up with that? Let me tell you honestly, I don’t know… a broken world, a bigger picture, the enemy’s schemes, a greater glory? We may never know this side of heaven. Am I going to let those situations keep me from belief the next time? Isn’t hard not to? Can we become offended with Jesus, just like the Nazarenes did? Sure. And is He amazed at our lack of faith? Probably.
I believe it is Beth Moore who has said, “If I’m going to err, let it be on the side of belief.” If I am going to have too much of something, I want it to be too much faith, instead too much doubt! If I am going to look silly, I’d rather look silly believing Luke 1:37, rather than huddled in the unbelieving hometown crowd with Jesus, the miracle worker, in my midst. If I am going to cast my lots, I want to do it with an Almighty God, rather than with my limited knowledge and experiences. If I am going to amaze Jesus, I want it to be with my faith, rather than with my lack of it. If I am going to err, let it be on the side of belief. Let me go down believing. Not just believing, believing in Him. Not just believing in Him, believing Him.
What would happen if we were a generation who lived this way, with crazy, amazing, bold believing faith? What would happen if we prayed like the father in Mark 9:24 saying, “I believe; help my unbelief?” What kind of marriages would we have? What kind of kids would we be raising? What kind of social injustices would we be busting up? What kind of healing would we see? What kind of prayers would we pray? What kind of demons would we be casting out? What kind of miracles would we experience? Want in? Me too. If a Roman centurion a couple of thousand of years ago can amaze Jesus with his faith, SO CAN WE!
If your faith is a little bruised today and you’re having a hard time praying those big prayers, if you need a hand to hold as you enter the throne room of grace, could I offer you mine? Let me know the miracles you are needing and I will believe with you. And if the miracle you are desperate for is the very faith to believe for one, let’s pray that too. I mean, could there be a bigger miracle than the kind of faith that amazes Jesus?