Amazement

People were overwhelmed with amazement.

Mark 7:37

Jesus went into the region east of the Sea of Galilee called the Decapolis. This region was known for ten cities that were networked with each other and Greek in culture. It would have been likely to find a high Gentile population in this region. Yet, word of Jesus’s miracles had spread and people brought Him a man who was deaf and mute.

Jesus touched the man’s tongue, put His fingers in the man’s ears, and commanded them to “Be opened!” In the original language this is a passive imperative in the second person. That means it is a command that can only be obeyed passively. One way we see Jesus heal in the Gospels is to command parts of the body to “be healed” or “be opened” or “be made well.” Jesus isn’t commanding the unhealthy body part to heal itself. Instead, because these are passive imperatives, He’s essentially speaking to the unhealthy body part and commanding it to receive healing from God (passive).

When the man’s hearing and speaking were immediately healed, the people “were overwhelmed with amazement.” And these were likely Gentiles or, at the very least, Hellenized Jews. Jesus was getting a better response from these folks than from many of the Jewish leaders.

Being overwhelmed with amazement is the proper response to the Kingdom of God invading earth. It is the proper response to seeing or hearing about a healing, a miracle or a deliverance. This is how we were supposed to react to these things. Unfortunately, cynicism, skepticism, and the fear of being tricked by charlatans has left a deep wound in the heart of the American church. And this has caused muted reactions to moments when God moves in power.

Here are some reasons why many Christians are no longer overwhelmed with amazement when God moves in power:

  • Unbelief: they’ve heard too many stories, or witnessed it themselves, of fake healings or church leaders trying to use the miraculous for personal and financial gain. So when they hear of a testimony of someone getting healed or set free from demonic oppression, they just don’t believe it.
  • Indifference: they don’t necessarily doubt the stories of healings and miracles, they just have been taught that these things aren’t important. They’ve been taught an almost Gnostic version of the gospel that says the really important story is the one where a soul gets saved. Material/physical stuff doesn’t matter. Or an updated version of this is where a person gets really excited about a person outside the church finding loving community inside the church, yet all other stories of God moving in power get a shrug of the shoulders.
  • Confusion: they hear these stories and don’t really have a compartment in their brain to put it. They’ve lived in the American culture that is saturated with the worship of rationalism and empiricism, so God doing the supernatural is disorienting. They don’t know what to do with these stories of healing and miracles so the stories are mostly met with blank stares.
  • Familiarity: they have been a part of a church community where healings and deliverances happen regularly. Over time, people become so accustomed to God moving in supernatural power that they take it for granted. It becomes so commonplace that people stop living in awe and wonder of the Lord.

All of the above reactions are understandable, but they’re also unhealthy. The people of the Decapolis had it right. When God moves in power, when the Kingdom of God invades the kingdom of darkness, when someone gets healed or delivered, the proper response is worship. The proper response is awe and wonder. The proper response is deep gratitude and thanksgiving. And if we see it happen right in front of us, the proper response is to be overwhelmed with amazement!

Afraid Yet Filled

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Matthew 28:5-8

Afraid yet filled with joy. The women just had two encounters. They first encountered an empty tomb. This caused confusion and fear. Why would Jesus’s enemies desecrate His body by stealing it from the tomb? And before they could process it all, they had a second encounter, this time with an angel.

Their fear was not the sinful kind of fear that is steeped in distrust of God and worry about the future. The fear they were experiencing in this moment was the fear of the Lord. It was a holy fear of reverence and awe having just been in the presence of an angel who was dripping with the glory of the Lord. God was doing something glorious and yet so far outside of their understanding that it brought both fear and joy.

Afraid yet filled with joy.

This sums up the whole of a life walking with Jesus as He does the unexpected, the miraculous, the unthinkable. The disciples regularly experienced this mixture. When Jesus walked on water, when Jesus healed people who hadn’t been able to walk for decades, when Jesus cast out demons that no one else could, when Jesus touched people He shouldn’t have (like bleeding women and leprous men), the disciples lived in wondrous awe. They felt the fear of the Lord and the joy of the Lord all at the same time.

As followers of Jesus, we follow Him to our own cross and to our own tomb. We put to death the selfish, sinful things that hold us back from fullness of life with Christ. And we also follow Him out of that tomb, walking into new life as a new creation, a new kind of humanity that the world has never seen before.

When we believe in the impossible because of resurrection power coursing through our veins, and when we witness the impossible become possible right in front of us, we will regularly feel as the women did that day–afraid yet filled with joy. The holy fear of the Lord–the reverent awe of His holiness and power–mixes with the incredible, abundant joy of seeing heaven come to earth, and we are never the same!

He is risen!