Summary: The scribes and the skeptics were amazed at his teaching. The hungry and hurting were amazed by his miracles. An adulterer and her accusers were amazed by his love. And two millennia later, Jesus is no less amazing. But what amazes Jesus?
Amazing Jesus (2)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 1/19/2014
The Bible tells us, “On the day when the Lord Jesus comes, all the people who have believed will be amazed at Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
Amazed at Jesus. Not amazed at angels or mansions or new bodies or new creations. Paul doesn’t measure the joy of encountering the apostles or embracing our loved ones. If we will be amazed at those things, which certainly we will, he does not say. What he does say is that we will be amazed at Jesus. It shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus will be the most amazing person in heaven; he was equally amazing on earth.
The scribes and the skeptics were amazed at his teaching. The hungry and hurting were amazed by his miracles. An adulterer and her accusers were amazed by his love. And two millennia later, Jesus is no less amazing.
But last Sunday, I asked the question: “What amazes Jesus?” What might amaze the most amazing person who ever lived? The Greek word translated amazed in all of these instances literally means to stand outside oneself. It’s very similar to our phrase “he was beside himself,” and it has the idea of jumping out of your skin. What could cause God incarnate, to jump out of his skin?
Like I said last week, the Gospels record two moments in the life of Christ when Jesus was amazed. The first is found in Mark 6, when Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and was amazed at their unbelief. He was amazed by their lack of faith.
But on the second of these two amazing occasions Jesus is amazed for precisely the opposite reason. He had been traveling the Palestinian countryside and just wrapped up his famous Sermon on the Mount, when our story begins in Luke 7:
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum. At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death. When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.” (Luke 7:1-5 NLT)
Let’s pause there and take just a moment to get to know this Roman officer. What makes this story unique isn’t that someone came to Jesus for help, but that the person seeking help was Roman. He wasn’t Jewish. He didn’t grow up hearing the stories of Noah, Abraham, and Joseph in Sunday School like you and I did. He didn’t spend a week every summer at Hebrew Camp. He probably never ever attended VBS. This Centurion came from a pagan society—a culture steeped in the worship of countless gods and goddesses. Yet, after being assigned to Capernaum, he must have heard the stories of the Old Testament from local rabbis and overheard the singing of faithful Hebrews lofting through the streets at night during their family devotions. Those stories and songs must have worked their way into his soul. Not only did he embrace this Jewish community that he’d been assigned to sentinel, but he even built them a house of worship.
Archeologists have uncovered the remains of the synagogue this Romans Centurion built in Capernaum. At the highest elevation in town stood a beautiful basalt structure that testifies to us even today of this man’s generosity and kindness. What’s even more amazing is that gentiles, like this Roman Centurion, were not even allowed to enter a Jewish synagogue. So he couldn’t even go into the building he built.
In Luke 4, the Bible tells us that Jesus spent a lot time in Capernaum and taught there in this synagogue every Sabbath. I don’t know about you, but when I picture Jesus teaching in this synagogue, I see a Roman Centurion standing just outside the entry way listening to Jesus. It’s no wonder then that he knew what Jesus was capable of and that he sought Jesus out in his time of need. But even his request isn’t a selfish one. He’s asking Jesus to heal his highly valued slave at time when slaves were not highly valued. I’m blown away by this man already and we haven’t even gotten to the good part.
Let’s keep reading:
So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “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.” (Luke 7:6-8 NLT).