Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #194

#194 "Is Jesus Amazed By You?"
April 12, 2011
"When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him.." (Luke 7: 9)
In preparation for a study I may be doing this fall, I've been going through the Gospels, following Christ chronologically from His birth to His resurrection. I wrote this study and have taught it before, but I decided I wanted to go for it again with fresh eyes. One of the things that I incorporated into the study was the number of times that the word "amazed" was used when describing the reactions of those who were eyewitnesses to the earthly life of Christ. Presently, as I'm reading, I'm using the magnifying glass to find and circle each time the word "amazed" is used in this context.
The other day I was part of the crowd that followed Jesus to Capernaum. Mark called Capernaum "Jesus' home" in Mark 2:1, and Matthew called it "His own city" in Matthew 9:1. It is believed that Peter, Andrew, Matthew, and maybe John and James made their home there as well.  Located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, it was the location of a military installation under the command of a centurion. (Holman Bible Dictionary) I wonder if it was the very same centurion who we ran into that day as we followed Jesus.
Taking our walk in the Gospel of Luke (7: 1-10) we met a certain centurion who sent intermediaries to Jesus in Capernaum. He was a career soldier, in charge of one hundred other military men. It would seem that he had a servant who was very dear and precious to him, and that servant was sick and about to die. I believe that this servant was a Jew. The centurion sent some Jewish elders to find Jesus. They were more than willing to go on the errand because they liked this centurion. This was an oddity in those days. Jews and Gentiles just didn't mix. However, we're told that this particular military man loved the nation of Israel and built their synagogue. This is exactly why the Jewish elders were willing to go. They felt that the centurion deserved Jesus' help because of the good works he had done. The centurion, on the other hand, didn't think that he deserved a thing. He knew that nothing he had ever done would warrant a positive response from this man they called Jesus. The buzz on the street was that this Jesus was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. Certainly He wouldn't care about a Roman centurion...a Gentile. But in spite of his feelings of not being worthy, he believed that Jesus was able to grant his request and heal his servant with just a word. Not because the centurion himself deserved it. Not because the servant deserved it. He believed that Jesus could. Plain and simple, Jesus was able.
Right here is where I came to a dead stop in my study. Look at these words.
"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."" (v. 9)
For the first time, the Word didn't say that someone was amazed at Jesus. This time, Jesus was the one who was amazed.
If you do a search through the Scriptures, you can find out what God esteems, what He hates, and what He loves. But what could possibly amaze the One Who is Amazing Himself? Your faith, precious one.  Or your lack thereof.
As far as I can tell, there are only two instances in New Testament scripture where it is written that Jesus was amazed. Here and in Mark 6: 6. Jesus was in his hometown (Capernaum again?) and many were not accepting who He was or believing His words because they knew what family of origin He came from. The Bible says that they took offense at Him.
Mark 6:6 says, "And he was amazed at their lack of faith."
Faith amazes Christ. He was amazed at the great faith of the centurion. He was amazed at the lack of faith evident in his relatives and those of his hometown.
If the situation you're in today was written about in the Scriptures, would the heading be, "The Faith of _________?" Or would your story be labeled under "A Prophet Without Honor?" You believe in God, but do you BELIEVE God? Do you believe that He is Who He says that He is? Do you believe that He is able to do what He sets forth in His Word? No matter how hard? No matter how impossible it seems? No matter where you came from? No matter what you've done? Be honest.
Many of us can't bring ourselves to believe that the promises of God are for us. We may believe God is able to do anything, but we just don't believe He'll do it for us. The centurion demonstrates that the promises of God ARE for us, and the fulfillment of those promises aren't based on our worth, our pedigree, or our good deeds. The folk in Jesus' hometown demonstrate for us that one thing can block miracles, and that one thing is lack of faith.
Not a day goes by that I am not utterly, fantastically amazed at Jesus. I want Him to be amazed at me. When He and the Father look down over the banister of Heaven and see my life, I want Jesus to nudge His Father and mine with His elbow and say, "Wow! That's our girl! She's amazing!" What about you?
Living the Word along with you,  
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