Why were people in awe of Jesus, marveling at Him?

Home >  Full Study List >  Why were people in awe of Jesus, marveling at Him?
Question / Comment - Why were people in awe of Jesus, marveling at Him?

JPN Answer:

The world today has a fascination with superheroes and superpowers. Maybe, just maybe, you've noticed. Marvel and DC Comics rake in billions of dollars from their movies and comics. But that is just fiction. The One they should marvel at is Jesus! 

In 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! So here is a top 10 list of different reasons why people marveled and were in awe of Jesus. We'll limit ourselves to the use of this word 'thaumázō' looking at unique cases and events, in the order of His life, that caused such great awe and wonder.  

1. Mary & Joseph - The prophecies concerning Jesus even as a baby

Luk 2:30-33 For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

When the aged and godly Simeon saw Jesus as a baby, he rejoiced and prophesied about Jesus' future saying that He would be a light for the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Mary and Joseph marveled! That is, they had a mouth dropping moment because Simeon had been told by God that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes... and now he had! 'What would this baby become?' they would have thought! 

2. Fearful disciples - Jesus' power over the elements in nature 

Mat 8:25-27 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

A storm on the sea of Galilee caused great waves to batter the disciples' boat. As the disciples cried out in great fear, thinking this was the end, Jesus came and simply rebuked the winds and sea causing a great calm. This occurred early in the ministry of Jesus and the disciples were flabbergasted! Who can just speak to the wind and waves and have them obey their words? To the natural mind this didn't make sense and all they could do was marvel at what they had seen!

3. The multitudes - Jesus' acts of healing

Mat 9:6-8 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"--then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

Here was a man that was paralyzed. He was only able to get to Jesus because his friends had carried him on a stretcher and literally removed part of someone's roof to lower their friend down into the home! Now that is commitment! Jesus saw this and simply said to the paralytic 'arise, take up your bed, and walk'... and he did! There were multitudes that saw this and all they would do was marvel and glorify God! And I'm sure they would have pondered greatly - 'who is this man?' 

4. The multitudes - Jesus' authority over demons 

Mat 9:32-33 As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. (33) And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, "It was never seen like this in Israel!"

Mathew chapter 9 presents several miracles in a row, As well as the previous one just mentioned, Jesus gave life to the dead, sight to the blind and then speech to the dumb. This last case where he restored speech required a demon to be cast out. He had total authority over the demons. Can you imagine seeing someone that could not speak suddenly given that ability? Can you imagine the praise that would come forth? Again it says that the multitudes simply marveled at what they saw and heard! And when they did finally speak it was to say that 'nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!'

5. The disciples - Jesus' authority over life in nature 

Mat 21:19-20 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?"

When Jesus cursed the fig tree it immediately withered. A tree normally withers when its roots are starved of the water and nutrients they need. This can take months. And yet Jesus showed His authority over life and nature with the tree immediately withering. What would you think if you saw this? The disciples that saw it just looked and shook their heads asking 'how did it wither so soon?'  

6. The Pharisees & Herodians - Jesus' teaching and wisdom 

Mat 22:15-22 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. (16) And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying... "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

The Pharisees, who hated Jesus, would try to trap Him with difficult questions. Or at least they thought they were difficult. Here was one that was designed to trap Jesus - 'Should we pay taxes to Caesar?' William MacDonald writes: "If Jesus answered, “No,” He would not only antagonize the Herodians, but would be accused of rebellion against the Roman government. The Pharisees would have hustled Him off and pressed charges against Him. If He said, “Yes,” He would run afoul of the Jews' intense nationalistic spirit. He would lose much support among the common people—support which so far hindered the leaders in their efforts to dispose of Him." With His answer Jesus left His questioners speechless. He brought their question right back upon themselves, challenging their own faithfulness to both the government and God... and all they could do was marvel at His wisdom and teaching!

7. Pontius Pilate - Jesus' peace in trying times! 

Mat 27:11-14 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" So Jesus said to him, "It is as you say." And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.

With life and death on the line before Pilate, Jesus remained calm and at peace. When others would have begged for mercy or eagerly proclaimed their innocence, Jesus didn't even answer Pilate. This puzzled Pilate and caused him to marvel greatly. He knew men, and this was not a normal reaction that he was expecting! 'What made this man so different' he thought? 'Why does he not seem to recognize the power I have?'

8. Peter - Jesus' resurrection

Luk 24:12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.

Upon hearing that Jesus had risen from the dead, Peter sprinted to the tomb, finding exactly what had been described. There was an empty tomb but from the linen wrappings that once were around a body! But Jesus was not there! Can you imagine the whirling of Peter's mind as he went back to the other disciples? Scripture tells us that he simply marveled at what he had seen!  

9. Jewish Elders & High Priest - Jesus' impact on others after His ascension

Act 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

Peter and John had to stand before the religious authorities for the 'crime' of healing a man born lame. This was a council of the highest religious leaders in Israel including the High Priest. It was meant to be an intimidating scene where the disciples were threatened concerning speaking about Jesus. Instead the opposite happened! Peter was bold as a lion and spoke powerfully with great conviction about Jesus. This caught the leaders off-guard and they marveled that simple untrained 'fishermen' could speak with such power! The influence of the living Lord Jesus was still making people marvel even through those in His body! And this has carried on for 2000 years!

10. All believers - Christ at His Coming 

2Th 1:9-10 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed.

Our last example leads us into the future and the return of Jesus Christ. If people, even His enemies, marveled at Jesus at His first coming, wait until they see Him in His second! And those that are His will marvel as well. We will marvel as we see our Lord and also as we see ourselves. We will marvel at who He is and what He has done... for us! When we see the position He has given, being found and displayed in His likeness, we will be speechless, marveling at His amazing grace!


The world can marvel at the fictional world of Marvel if they want. How much better to marvel in the One that is truly marvelous!?! But before we close there is one word of warning. It seems that the current craze around superheroes and superpowers is preparing people to accept one that is coming who will 'wow' them. But deceptively so. The last mention of ''thaumázō' ('to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment') is in Revelation 17. We read:

Rev 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. 

The unsaved world will marvel at this coming 'beast' - this Antichrist that will rule the world. So be careful who you 'wonder' over! Let it be Jesus Christ and not a false or anti-Christ! 


There is also a follow up Q&A here looking at two examples where Jesus marveled at someone.