Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mark 6:4-6
I’m amazed at the notion that Jesus was amazed…about anything, really. If he were just “fully man” and nothing more, then it wouldn’t be quite so amazing…but that he was also fully God makes me wonder about what, exactly, could so captivate him, so catch him off guard, as to “amaze” him. So here it is: “He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
As it turns out, amazing God isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Jesus goes back to his hometown, to the people who changed his diapers and whose kids played with him on the playground and who saw him working long hours in his dad’s carpenter shop…with hopes they might be willing to see his growth, his ministry, and his power and authority over everything in this world. He had an expectation that his hometown would not be so constrained by their preconceived notions of him, that they would have room in their hearts for a hometown boy who turns out to be the savior of the world. As those hopes were dashed and his disappointment set in, he was amazed that their hearts could be so closed to the possibilities.
I like studying the gospels and paying particular attention to various people’s responses to Jesus. In each case, we ask ourselves, “Do I ever respond that way?” “Could that ever be me?” In this case, I suppose it is true that this could be any of us. God could well be amazed by …
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Genesis 21:6
“I always want to pastor a church where there is laughter in the hallways.” Those were some of the very first words I ever heard my pastor speak. Some sixteen years ago, when I had the privilege of making the very nervous “first contact” with him as a candidate in our church’s pastor search process, these words were a part of his vision for how a New Testament church should look. And in keeping with that vision, his very first sermon at our church was from Genesis 21…Sarah’s laughter and what it teaches us.
There is supposed to be laughter among God’s people. It is a sign of healthy relationships, of inner peace, and in some cases, of faith.
There is, of course, more than one kind of laughter. There is laughter that is about how ridiculous people can be. There is laughter that is nervous. There is laughter that is pretense. But the kind of laughter I am talking about is laughter which comes from amazement of what God has done or of what God is doing. It is the same kind of laughter Sarah talks about in Genesis 21. You see, God had made a promise to Sarah’s husband Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. That promise came when Sarah was already 65 years old. Twenty-five years later, at the ripe old age of 90, Sarah is still without child. She was now long past the child-bearing years and was living in a culture where few things were more humiliating for a woman than to be barren. Surely, she (and her husband) were the subject of plenty of whispers and …
…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:26-27
…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
We have lots of “critters” come through our backyard. Over the last 20 years or so, we’ve had raccoons, possums, coral snakes, skunks, and birds galore. We even had a Road Runner hatched under our deck once (different story…maybe a future post). In her younger days, Lacee (our Cocker Spaniel…no longer with us) would sometimes bring us “trophies” which she had caught. And her favorite was always possums.
The thing about possums is that, when your dog brings you one and it looks lifeless enough, you can’t be too quick to judge. There is a reason they call it “playing possum”. You have to poke it a few times to see if it’s really dead. Sometimes even that doesn’t work. Then you have to leave it alone out on the patio for a few minutes and wait and see if it gets up and scurries off. But if it’s still there the next morning, you can go ahead and dispose of it. It’s dead. Score one for Lacee.
In my church’s youth gatherings on Wednesday nights, they have been watching an Andy Stanley video series on what it means to be “fishers of men”. At that same time, I’ve been spending time in one of my favorite passages: Colossians 1. I have written about it in previous posts (e.g., here). This is Paul’s very cool statement about “the great mystery …