Matthew 27:28-29, “The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (NIV).
It’s interesting to note that the word “amazed” is found some 30+ times in the Gospels. Most of the time the word is used to describe the response of the masses to Jesus. “Amazed” is an amazing word with a lot of power and nuance.
Something interesting to do in your studies or devotions is pay attention to the word “amazed” as you read through the Gospels. You can almost picture the crowds being left mesmerized and shocked as their mouths gape open and they rub their eyes in astonishment. Jesus would do one thing and they would be amazed, then he would do another and they would be left “utterly amazed.” It truly is amazing.
The Crowds Were Amazed…
At His Teaching:
The first thing I would like to make a quick note of is in the passage above it states the crowds were amazed because Jesus taught with “authority, and NOT as their teachers of the law” (emphasis added). What’s the implication here? The implication is that the religious leaders, the hypocrites, were just “going through the motions.” Why do I say that? Because they were not teaching with authority. In other words, those supposedly in authority taught with no authority.
More to the point, the crowds were amazed at Jesus teaching. Isn’t that interesting? The very thing that seems to be missing from most sermons in our time, teaching, is what amazed the crowds. Nowadays we have sermons full of anecdotes, self-help messages, inspirational messages, jokes, etc., but often times we find very little to no teaching in them. That is just the opposite of what we see here. Sermons are to include teaching, teaching of Scripture, teaching of doctrine, teaching of theology.
I remember the first time I preached, actually it was more of an interview format in front of a large group of teens and young adults. I was given a general idea of the question format and was to share my testimony and sum it up with a biblical point that could be taught from my story. Well, even though all I had to do was answer questions and expand, I choked.
During one portion I responded to the pastor with what I thought were the words, “my teeth started chattering.” I was explaining heart felt emotion but everyone started laughing. Talk about a drop in confidence. I stammered my way through it all and discovered at the end of the service that I has said “my teeth started shattering.” So, as I’m emoting those present are picturing my teeth falling apart and coming out of my head.
Then, my first actual sermon, which I had prepared for like crazy, was disastrous as well. It was disheartening to watch everyone yawn, fight to keep their eyes open, and stare off in a daze. I give the two above examples for a couple of reasons. First, to state that my beginning in ministry was anything BUT amazing. I amazed no one. And second, to lead into Jesus’ first sermon experience.
When Jesus hung up his carpenter’s belt and retired from the family business, he went out and gave his first sermon and it was the greatest sermon the world has ever heard. Take some time to check out just a couple of examples like Matthew 13:53-54 and 22:15-22. There is example after example is Scripture of crowds being utterly amazed and the teachings of Jesus.
At His Miracles:
When we look at the Greek word for amazed in Matthew 9:27-35; 15:29-31 and Mark 6:45-51, we see that it comes from the prefix for “out of”* and “to stand.”** So, rather literally it would be “to stand outside of oneself.”*** So the idea carried with it is that of being so astonished that one jumps out of their skin. While it is certainly true the crowds were amazed at the actions Jesus performed that are identified as miracles (i.e. water to wine, feeding the 5,000, walking on water, healing), I think there is a deeper miraculous truth to be “amazed” at. If indeed Jesus Christ is “God in Flesh,” which he is, the Almighty taking on human form, then that is the miracle which is truly amazing beyond all miracles. And it’s also amazing how quickly we can lose sight of the wonder of this miracle which we need so desperately in authentic worship.
Jesus Was Amazed…
The tables were turned on occasion in regards to faith. Sometimes it was Jesus who was the one who was amazed. We only find the word “amazed” applied to Jesus twice, but I think that is understandable. I imagine it would take quite a bit to amaze Jesus Christ, the source of our amazement.
We do see though within Luke 7:1-10 Jesus declares, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” So, when we exercise true faith Christ takes notice.
At Lack of Faith:
On the other side of the coin, in Mark 6:1-6 we see Jesus being amazed at the lack of faith. I find it interesting to note that it is faith the amazes Jesus, whether because of its abundance or because it is lacking. We see in one place he found faith where it wasn’t expected to be, and in another he didn’t find faith where it should have been. Both situations amazed him. He doesn’t give a rip about fame, fortune or wealth, but he’s amazed when we put our trust in him as we should – and when we don’t.
I know I amaze Jesus all of the time, unfortunately far more often than not it’s at my lack of faith. How about you? Is he amazed at your faith despite your struggles and circumstances, or is he amazed at your lack of faith despite his assurances and promises? This is something for all of us to think about.