Who astonished Jesus? Who did He marvel at and why?

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Question / Comment - Who astonished Jesus? Who did He marvel at and why?

JPN Answer:

A previous question looked at who was astonished and marveled at Jesus Christ during His life. We saw that: 

"The New Testament the Greek word for 'marvel' is 'thaumázō' meaning 'to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment'. In short it is those mouth dropping, speechless moments where one just stands in utter awe of what they have heard or seen!"  

Ten examples were given ranging from His parents and disciples, to His enemies and even the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. Now it is pretty clear why someone would be in awe of Jesus Christ... He did and said many things that would leave most speechless! But did Jesus marvel over anyone Himself? When we search scriptures we find two times when it says that Jesus 'marveled'. There were two times when He was astonished by someone's response. Now one of these is good and one is bad. These two cases are related and are actually the opposite of each other. So let's start with the bad and finish on a high! 

1. Jesus marvels... at the unbelief of His home town

Mar 6:1-6 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. (2) And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! (3) Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" And they were offended at Him. (4) But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house." (5) Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. (6) And He marveled because of their unbelief. 

In the previous chapter, Mark chapter 5, Jesus delivered a man called 'legion' who had been possessed by many evil spirits so that he couldn't even be restrained with chains. After that, He healed a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, whom no doctor had been able to help for all those years. And then, to top it off, Jesus raised Jairus' daughter (an official at the Synagogue) from the dead and gave her life once again! Amazing. From there Jesus went to His hometown of Nazareth. There He taught in the Synagogue and while people were amazed at His teaching and the stories they had heard, they became offended by Jesus. You see they just thought of Him as that carpenter they had known for years. They called Him the 'Son of Mary' which was only used in the Gospels here, and isn't praising Jesus!

The phrase Mary’s Son was also derogatory since a man was not described as his mother’s son in Jewish usage even if she was a widow, except by insult (cf. Jdg 11:1-2; Joh 8:41; Joh 9:29). Their words, calculated insults, also suggested they knew there was something unusual about Jesus’ birth.
Bible Knowledge Commentary

Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house." And sadly we read that 'He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.'

You've probably met people that, despite the evidence, come up with excuses for why they can't, or won't, believe. 

"Oh I think the Bible has been changed so you can't trust it"
"Well, Jesus was a good teacher but He isn't God and didn't claim to be"
"There are many ways to God. Jesus isn't the only way. You have your way and I have mine'
"If there is a God, and He is love, then He won't send anyone to Hell... if there was such a place"
"I believe in evolution, not in a Creator. What looks like design is, well, just random processes working over millions of years."

There are certainly many reasons to marvel at the unbelief of people still today. Especially with those that have all the evidence to believe, but won't! There is nothing new under the sun! But there was another event in the ministry of Jesus that had Jesus' marveling and this time it was for a good reason! 

2. Jesus marvels... at the amazing faith of a Gentile 

Mat 8:5-13 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, (6) and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." (7) Jesus *said to him, "I will come and heal him." (8) But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (9) "For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." (10) Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. (11) "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; (12) but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (13) And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment.

This was an amazing case. You would think that if there was someone that would make Jesus marvel, in a good way, it would be someone prominent in Israel, someone strong in the Word, and close to God. Yet it doesn't come from a Rabbi, a Jewish leader or even someone Jewish. It comes, oddly enough, from a soldier in the Roman Empire. Having heard that the servant of a Roman Centurion is paralyzed, Jesus is on His way to the Centurion's home to heal his servant. But, surprisingly, the Roman centurion says there is no need. He doesn't feel worthy to have Jesus come under his roof, but being a man in authority he recognizes that all Jesus needs to do is say the word and his servant will be healed. No need to come. No need to do anything special. No need to spend a lot of time on it. In fact, there wasn't even a need to see Jesus, for Luke's account adds some extra information that the Centurion sent friends to speak to Jesus (Luke 7:6-7). For the Roman Centurion sight was not required. Just say the word and the servant will be well!

It truly is amazing faith and it's not surprising that it stopped Jesus in His tracks. Literally and figuratively! Jesus was 'wowed' saying that He had not found such great faith in all of Israel!

Now this is just a one-off example right? Well... there is a wee modern day comparison. You see Jesus used this example to say that many Gentiles, those from the east and the west, would find their way into the Kingdom of Heaven and would one day recline at the same table with the 'greats' of Israel like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! And who are they you ask? 

Well they are people like you and I. People that have not seen, yet believe. People that have heard His word and know that is enough. People who live by faith and not sight.

Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Jesus said such people are blessed:

Joh 20:29 "...blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."   

And Peter adds:

1Pe 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.

So though the Lord knows all things, in a sense we still have a way to 'wow' heaven today. It is through faith. And certainly, if you are going to make Jesus marvel, make sure it is a good way! Make sure it is through faith and not unbelief!