When Jesus Was Amazed

It may surprise many people to hear that Jesus was amazed. But the Bible says clearly that Jesus was amazed at the unbelief He saw in His hometown. He was amazed at the faith He saw in a Roman centurion. Some translations also use the word amaze at the time Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. A person may argue that Jesus could not be amazed if He were God. This argument is not valid. We must remember that Jesus was also a man. He was both God and man. In His incarnation His deity was covered to some extent. We would not have been able to stand the full blaze of His deity. As a man, Jesus had all the characteristics of humanity. Part of human nature is to show emotion. There were times when Jesus was angry. There were times when He expressed joy. There were times when He was sad. And, as we will see now, there were times when He was surprised or amazed. This does not point to a weakness in Jesus, nor does it mean that He sinned. The difference in Jesus and us is that Jesus’ emotions were perfectly balanced and under control. When we know who Jesus is, it should not be so difficult to understand the surprises that He experienced. He was amazed to see unbelief in Nazareth. He was amazed to see a great faith in a centurion. He was amazed at the horror of the cross. Although He was God from all eternity, He became a man and lived among us. He hungered as others. He thirsted as others. He...

Authority That Amazes

People were amazed at Jesus’ authority. “And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22. What was so different about His teaching? For one thing, Jesus did not qualify His teaching by quoting famous rabbis of the past. His teaching style was not vague and uncertain. You will find no “probably” or “maybe” in His words. We can see His teaching style clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. Over and over Jesus said, “It is said…but I say unto you…” Jesus went to the heart of the matter in His teaching. You never hear Jesus say, “I don’t know” or “I will have to study the matter and bring you an answer later.” There was an absoluteness, a finality to Jesus’ teaching. When people heard Jesus, they heard certainty. They heard truth because Jesus is the truth. They confronted the final Teacher, the Greatest Teacher when they heard Jesus. Jesus is God’s final word to us. He is the revelation of God. When He spoke, God spoke. Jesus did not deny the teachings of the past, but He fulfilled them. We need to read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament and not the other way around. Begin with the fulfillment and then move to the shadows and types. From the book, Astonished Beyond...

Bowled Over

Have you ever seen something so wonderful that you fell to the ground in fear or awe? The Bible records times when this has happened. At the transfiguration of Jesus, when His glory shown on the mountain, the three disciples fell to the ground. The same thing happened to Paul when he met the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. He, too was bowled over. The Book of The Revelation shares John’s experience. When he saw Jesus, he fell like a dead man. Imagine what it would have been like if they had seen the full glory of Christ. They would have died instantly. When Jesus came to the earth, He clothed Himself in flesh. He revealed His glory in many ways, but in mercy His awesome glory was hidden. In our weak condition, such glory would obliterate us. Because the earth is so far from the sun, we enjoy the energy and benefit from it. However, if we were to move near the sun, it would burn this planet and kill everyone instantly. One day we will see the glory of Jesus without blinders, but now we need those blinders of faith. They enable us to see enough to live here, but they also protect us from the full blaze of His glory. (From the book, Astonished Beyond...

Have We Lost Our Sense of Wonder?

The words of Napoleon Bonaparte express so well our sense of wonder concerning Jesus. He said, “Everything in Him astonishes me.  His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me.  Between Him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison.  He is truly a being by Himself.” Have we lost that sense of wonder today?  The wonder of little children?  The wonder of explorers who make their first discovery?  The wonder of a newly married couple on their honeymoon?  The wonder of the athlete who wins a race before 100,000 people at the Olympics?  The nearer we get to know Him, the more we will be amazed. Not just amazed but super-amazed, astonished beyond measure. Who loves you like Jesus?  Who will stand beside you like Jesus?  Who gave everything to you like Jesus?  Who will take you to His home like Jesus?  One of His names is “Wonderful.”  He is full of wonders. How can we not be blown over in the presence of such majesty?  He is our Lord, our Savior, our King, our all in all.  Let us fall at his feet.  Let us tell of His wonders. Let us sing of His glory!  He is super-amazing! The above words are taken from the book, Astonished Beyond Measure by Blake Western.  The e-book is reasonably priced at Christianbook.com and you can find reduced prices for the printed book at amazon.com.  ...

The Death of Death

John Owen spoke about the death of death.  By that he meant the resurrection of Christ.  The Gospel is not complete without the resurrection.  Jesus did not vanish into nothingness at his resurrection.  His body rose from the grave.  He defeated man’s final enemy.  This is what we celebrate at Easter.  We celebrate a living Savior who is upon his throne today. Regardless of the turmoil in our world, regardless of the tragedies that we hear about regularly, regardless of death that comes sooner or later,  we know the Conqueror of death.  We know that Jesus dealt the death blow to death.  The empty tomb is the assurance that one day we too will be raised from the dead.  Death will not have the final word.  The one who said, “I am the resurrection and the life,”  will have the final word. Maybe death has intruded into your family this year or broken your circle of friends.  Friday can seem like a long, long day.  Let’s remember Sunday.  Jesus lives and that changes everything.  We can  sing “hallelujah” even in our...

My Trip To Cuba

Recently I visited the beautiful country of Cuba. Things were drab and brown in Oklahoma, but in Cuba there was lush tropical vegetation.  There is great variety in Cuba.  There are mountainous areas but also plains.  There are beaches that would rival any you would find elsewhere.  There are many historic cities such as Trinidad where you will find architecture that is hundreds of years old.  There are also some modern hotels.   The most beautiful thing about Cuba is not any of the things which I have mentioned above.  It is the joyful Christians I met there.  I wish you could hear them sing.  They know how to praise the Lord.  A few of the songs I had heard before but most of them were indigenous songs sung from the heart.  They are hungry for the Word of God and like to share the Gospel.   While there I visited two of the house churches.  One was located among the tobacco fields.  The other was in a city.  Many of these churches are small in number but visionary in their outreach.  When they have 20 or 25 people meeting in a small room, they will start another house church.  And today there are thousands of house churches throughout Cuba.  The light of Christ is shining brightly in this beautiful land.   You know you are with family when you meet with these brothers and sisters in Christ.  Many times you hear them say, “Cuba para Christo,”  (Cuba for Christ).  The song says, “In Christ there is no East or West, no North or South, but one great fellowship...

The Seasons of Life

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.  The seasons come and go.  Winter is often harsh and dark.  Spring is a time for warmth and new life.  Summer is a time for maturing and the outdoors.  Fall is a time of harvest.  The constant thing about these seasons is variety and change.  Even in countries where there are only two seasons,  the dry season and the wet season, you will find variety and change. The Christian life is much like the seasons.  Things are not the same all the time.  There is change.  Our bodies are always changing.  We realize that more as we get older.   But also our minds change.  We receive new perspectives on things and our understanding is enlarged.  What is true of our bodies and minds is also true spiritually.  We do not stand still.  We are moving and changing. We may feel like we are in the Winter of our souls, but that is just one phase.   The Spring is coming.  We may feel that the summer will never come.  But the Lord is working in all of the challenges and changes that we experience.  We are moving toward the summer and the autumn.  There is an eternal plan and we are moving through the spiritual seasons toward a plan to make us like Jesus.  We are not alone in the changes.  We are not helpless in the changes.  There is One who rules the seasons and His name is Jesus!...

Jesus is God’s Yes!

As we enter the new year, there are many uncertainties concerning our personal lives, our families, and our country.  Even so,  there is one certainty that will encourage and lift us.  It is the knowledge that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He is God’s yes to all our questions, our anxieties, our fears, and all our dreams. This is the way it is stated in II Cor. 1:19b – 20 “in him it has always been “Yes.”    For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”  That means that every “no” that we hear or face is trumped by the eternal yes in Jesus.  He is infinitely greater than any problem or trouble that we are experiencing now or will face this year. Jesus is with us;  He is in us; and He is above us.  We can move forward with optimism when we know this.  He is the “Yes” for every day in 2017.  So I wish you all a blessed new year.  May all of us come to know God’s “Yes”  more deeply and rest more confidently in His...

THE BIRTHDAY OF A KING

Who would have expected the birth of a king in lowly manger?  Who would have expected the King of Kings to be ignored by most people?  Who would have expected magi from the East to be directed by a star to the promised King?  But, all this happened.  The God who created all things entered the world he had made.  He became a tiny baby on a tiny planet which is one tiny part of a vast constellation which is just one of the billions of constellations He made. In other words, he came to a grain of sand compared to the vast universe to become a microscopic creature in this grain of sand.   Try to get your mind around that!  But it is true.He entered not with great fanfare from men, but he came almost unnoticed.  His birth was most unusual.  There was no human father.  He was born of the virgin Mary through the work of the Holy Spirit.    No other King had ever come this way.   It is easy to overlook birthdays.  However, this is one birthday that we should all remember.  Unless He came there would be no perfect life;  there would be no death on the cross  for our sins;  there would be no hope of eternal life assured in his resurrection.  Christmas is a time to celebrate, but let’s celebrate the Birthday of a King.  He is unique in every way.  He is our contemporary.  He is not a baby in a manger today.  He is the living Lord.  And all our salvation depends upon Him.  Without this King there is no Christmas!  It...

SUPER-AMAZING NEWS

From Chapter Two of the book, Astonished Beyond Measure The Gospel is still super-amazing news. Some news gets old with the passing of time. People will talk about a tremendous, last minute win in football. But, soon that will be old news. People will talk about a new political development until it seems that talk shows have exhausted every angle. The gospel is different. It appeals to people in every country, to people of every age group. And the more we hear, the more we want to hear. What is so appealing, so magnetic about the gospel? It is Jesus. He is the good news. The gospel is simply what Jesus did to save sinners. It is the good news that He died for us and that He rose from the dead. The gospel is not the speculations of men. It’s not formulations of some group of religious zealots. It is not the vision of a particular man in a cave. It is objective reality. It is historical. Jesus actually came to the earth. He really died on the cross. And He triumphantly conquered death. He is alive, our Lord who is coming again. That is good news for all people who know they can never save themselves. It is good news for all people who despair of their sins and weaknesses. It is good news for all people who seriously consider the brevity of human life. The gospel is powerful. It is like a bomb that breaks open a sinful heart. It is like a mighty thrust that sends a spaceship into the heavens. It is like a...