What amazes you? How many times have you uttered the word “amazing!” The Guinness Book of World Records is a source for not only the bizarre, but also the amazing. The longest fingernails… the loudest burp…. The most cockroaches eaten. Aside from the fact that it is amazing that anyone actually measures these things, the feats themselves are amazing.
When I was a kid, coming out of elementary school and into Jr. High, there was a show called “That’s Incredible” – just another way to label those things we consider to be “amazing.” The show aired on NBC and featured such notable hosts as John Davidson, Cathy Lee Crosby and Fran Tarkenton. “That’s Incredible” was an imitation of the 70’s show “Real People,” but ended up becoming the freakshow of the 80’s.
Some of the “incredible” stunts performed over those years included: a dentist who could cure pain with a clothespin; an acrobat who leapt over cars speeding at him at 60 mph; a man who caught arrows with his bare hands; a daredevil who caught a bullet in his teeth; a skydiver who jumped out of an airplane while handcuffed and strait-jacketed; and a group of karate experts who leveled a barn. Those who remember the show remember that it had less to do with “incredible” people than with those seeking attention – at any cost – including their lives. In an attempt to make it on the show, one man nearly lost a foot and another burned his fingers to the stumps. A third suffered several fractures and a ruptured aorta. It shouldn’t surprise us that six people died trying to make it on “That’s Incredible.”
The show fed our desire to see the amazing. We have evolved to a point where amazement usually is proportional to the amount of shock value carried by what we are experiencing. We also get amazed by a lot of things. Last second finishes in the NCAA basketball tournament; Randal McCloy’s “miraculous” recovery from the Sago mine disaster; people who know how to run businesses and grow them from nothing to multi-billion dollar enterprises.
Now, ask these questions: What amazes Jesus? What surprises him? What shocks him? What inspires him? We see a glimpse of Jesus’ amazement behind door number two in Matthew 8. Jesus enters a town called Capernaum. As he enters, he is greeted by a Centurion – a commander in control of 100 Roman soldiers. He is a person who is used to being in control; and in a completely surreal scene, he is concerned about one of his servants. He describes his servant as “paralyzed – and in terrible suffering.”
Jesus makes a reply that may have surprised some of the Jewish contingent. Just a simple “I will go and heal him.” Jesus’ response is amazing. To collaborate with a Roman centurion (especially when so many of the Jews saw Jesus as the beginning of a militant takeover of Rome as part of the “new kingdom”) was not just amazing… it was shocking.
Then, the Centurion himself, a symbol of many things hated by the Jews, amazes Jesus. Listen closely to his response to Jesus’ very generous offer: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “go,” and he goes; and that one “come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “do this,” and he does it.” (Matthew 8: 8-9)
This is one of the few times scripture reveals Jesus’ amazement. Matthew’s version of this story says “When Jesus heard this, he was astonished.” Other accounts actually use the word “amazed.” Read through the gospels and you will find that whenever Jesus is amazed, it is due to faith. Either strong faith or weak faith. In this case, he was astonished at the Centurion’s faith. The centurion knew that Jesus could heal regardless of where he was physically. He believed, and as a result, his request was answered.
As we close door number two, we have to ask the question… in what way does our faith amaze Jesus? Is it because of its strength or the lack of it? What type of health does your faith have today? The story of Jesus and the Centurion gives me hope. Hope in that one of the least likely people to impress Jesus amazed him. Maybe… just maybe I can grow that type of faith.
Written by Mark Hodges–part 2 of 3. Mark, a PV Elder, is married to Tamara, and they have two children. Mark has a zeal for life and is the friend who will always tell you the truth. Mark’s pet peeve is people who take their shoes off on a plane.
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