The first occasion was when Jesus marveled at the faith of the Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-10). The man had a servant who apparently suffered an accident that left him paralyzed and in terrible pain. Upon hearing this Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” The Centurion demonstrated remarkable faith when he told Jesus that would not be necessary. Then came the statement that caused the Lord to stand in amazement, “Just say the word from where You are, and my servant will be healed.”
Here was a Roman soldier who could have been the poster child of Ephesians 2:12, “In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.” That was the Roman Centurion’s story up to this point. Unlike the Jews, this man had no spiritual heritage. But when he came to Jesus on behalf of his servant, his faith surpassed theirs. Turning to those who were following him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!”
The second occasion was when Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the Jews in His hometown of Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6). This is the second time Jesus preached in the synagogue in Nazareth. The first time the Jews became so enraged they dragged Jesus out of the synagogue and tried to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30). That Jesus returned to preach again demonstrates the patience and persistence of God.
Upon hearing Jesus preach the second time the reaction was much the same as before. Strangely enough, the Jews acknowledged His wisdom and miraculous power. But in the next breath they dismissed it all saying in essence, “Who does this man think He is? We know who He is! He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary.” You might say the Jews in Nazareth had become hardened to the gospel. They were so familiar with it, it ceased to move them at all.
While the Roman Centurion went home to find his servant healed, Mark 6:5 records, “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” The Jews in Nazareth could have believed. They should have believed. But they refused. As a result, they limited the power of God. At their stubborn refusal to believe, Jesus was amazed.
On the one occasion Jesus was gladly amazed. On the other, He was sadly amazed.
When Jesus looks at our faith, I wonder what He thinks. Does He think no faith, little faith, weak faith, or great faith? Let’s strive to be people of great faith! May our faith be such that it causes Jesus to be amazed.
Pastor Todd Weston