Do you want to surprise Jesus? In his 33 years, Jesus saw it all. John 2:25 says He knew what was in man. Good, bad, and ugly. Even so, the gospels record two times Jesus actually marveled, and both of them send us a challenging message today.
In the first instance in Mark 6, Jesus was shocked for a bad reason: the complete lack of faith in his own hometown. Jesus had recently begun his ministry and had generated great crowds all around Israel. People watched and amazed as He healed the man with the withered hand, raised a girl from the dead, calmed the storm on command. Yet when he enters Nazareth, there’s resistance. To the people who had watched Jesus grow up, he was still just Joseph’s kid, the carpenter, and rumors of his legitimacy still lingered. Wouldn’t God’s messenger be more royal than this? Jesus came to share truth and healing with the people he knew best, but they were offended at his teaching.
Such was the lack of faith in Nazareth that it caused the Maker of All Things to stand astonished. He must have seen all the hostility and rebellion behind it. Were they too good to receive Jesus as their messiah? No wonder the Bible says, “He could there do no mighty work.” Unbelief stopped God’s blessing in their region, and it will stop it in our lives, too.
Now let’s look at the second time Jesus marvels, this time for something wonderful. The amazing faith of a Roman centurion in Matthew 8 catches Jesus by surprise. As a high ranking officer, this Roman soldier has no doubt been a part of the problem oppressing the Jewish people. He’s a trained killer, yet he’s concerned about a beloved servant who is gravely ill. He knows Jesus is the only answer. As a Gentile, this man has no official covenant with God, yet his faith in Jesus’ authority is so strong, he doesn’t even care if Jesus comes to his home to pray in person. “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed,” he tells Jesus. With one statement, this centurion shows he trusts the power and absolute authority of Jesus’ word. Jesus and the Father are one. This Roman sees it, while Jesus’s own countrymen don’t. This man’s faith exposes the hypocrisy of dead religion and causes Jesus to marvel.
Both examples challenge our own faith. We all have a chance to hear God’s Word. He sends it to each of us as a remedy for the unbelief He knows we all fight. Will we ignore it, or worse, choke on it like those in Nazareth? Will we allow our preconceived religious ideas block us from a fulfilling relationship with the Living Word? Or will we hear the Word of God, receive it gladly and see God’s Word work in our lives like the centurion?
Jesus’s remedy for unbelief still works today. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.” Let’s hear the Word, not just with our ears, but with our spirits. Then we’ll accept it, act on it and see the amazing results. “He that has ears to hear, let him hear!”