When Jesus Marveled

The word thaumazo is a Greek term (the language of the New Testament) meaning, “astounded, surprised, astonished, amazed, marvel.” I know, what a boring way to begin a post, but please stay with me.

The word is most frequently used to describe people’s response to Jesus, his miracles and his words in the four Gospels. When he does something supernatural, they are flabbergasted. They cannot believe what they have just seen and heard (e.g. Matthew 8:27 and 9:33). Amazement would describe our response to him as well had we been in the sandals of a first-century Palestinian.

But does it amaze you that the Bible tells us that Jesus was amazed? Thaumazo is used to describe his response on two occasions: one, heartbreaking, and the other, wonderfully refreshing.

When Jesus visited his hometown in Mark 6, it would be an understatement to say he was met with a chilly response. In fact it was so icy that he determined it was useless to perform miracles there (verse 5). Then we are told:

And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. (Mark 6:6, ESV)

Jesus was astounded at the level of their unbelief. The people who had watched him grow up and who knew him better than anyone refused to believe that he was the Son of God. They rejected him at a deeper level than anyone up to this point in his ministry.

Another scene. A foreigner – a Roman centurion – not only believed that Jesus could heal his servant, but that Jesus did not even need to be in the presence of the sick man to speak a healing word.

Jesus’ response to the man’s faith:

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:9, ESV)

Jesus had seen faith before, what was the big deal with the centurion’s belief? Jesus was blown away that this man, who had not grown up hearing about the God of the Bible and the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah like the Jewish people, could have such a profound faith.

No hesitation. No miracle-demanding. Simple faith. And Jesus marveled.

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