Two Questions About Jesus’ Amazing Teachings

0
60

Here’s an interesting little assignment:  Go through the four Gospels and note every time people who heard our Lord Jesus teaching were amazed. Or astonished.

I did that.  It looks like this…

Matthew 8:27-29; 9:8; 9:33; 12:23; 13:54; 15:31; 22:22,33.

Mark 1:22,27; 2:12; 5:20,42; 6:51; 7:37; 11:18

Luke 4:32,36; 5:9,26; 8:25,56; 9:43; 13:17; 18:43; 20:26.

John 7:15,46.  Apparently John chose to say whether the people believed in Jesus after hearing Him speak, rather than that they were amazed.

Just so you will know, I did not use a concordance or other help, but read through the four gospels with a high-lighter in hand. Twice, in fact.  But it is possible I may have missed one or two references.

Now, I have two questions about this.

One:  Why were the people amazed when they heard Jesus?

Two: Why aren’t we?

Why are we not as amazed and astonished as those who heard Jesus in the first century? In truth, we’re often bored with Scripture’s teachings! Why?

The first question–why were they amazed–is easier to answer than the second.  The people said, “No one ever spoke like this man” (John 7:46).  They’d never heard anything like this.

–It was new. That was the first reason. And I suggest, it is the main reason they were wowed. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16). They were so ready!

Matthew 7:28-29 says, When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. 

–So, a second reason they were astonished was because of how He taught.  The scribes taught by citing authorities.  “Now, Rabbi Hillel said…  The prophet Isaiah said…” and so forth.  But the Lord Jesus taught differently.  “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…” (See Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44.  See 7:24,26) Jesus taught as one having authority!  “I say unto you!”

No doubt there were other reasons the crowds were amazed.  But those two will get you started thinking about it.

Second question: Why aren’t we amazed? Why are we often bored by these amazing teachings of our Lord? 

Even we who love the Lord are guilty of this. We read the Scriptures, close the Bible and walk away saying, “That was nice.”  We’ve done our daily Bible reading and go on to other things.

No doubt unbelief is one of the culprits.  “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God….” (I Corinthians 2:14). Satan has “blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But for God’s faithful children–people like you and me!–the number one reason we are not amazed at the teachings of our Lord Jesus is…

Over-familiarity. 

Those of us who have gone to church all our lives have heard these stories hundreds of times.  They are no longer new or fresh.

As Paul said to Timothy, “From a child, you have known the holy Scriptures….” (2 Timothy 3:15).  That’s good.  But it has a downside: What we have heard hundreds of times tends to lose its edge and become trite.  Familiarity breeds contempt, as the saying goes.

Now, I am not saying we have contempt for God’s word.  Only that it loses its cutting edge from over-familiarity.

We sometimes find ourselves envying the adult who comes to Christ late in life and only now is reading Scripture for the first time.  He reads it with awe.  “How wonderful!” he thinks.

When my youngest brother prayed to receive Christ many years ago, he would lie awake in bed at night reading the Scriptures. “Now that I’m part of the family,” he said, “I want to get with the program!”

So, what is the solution?  I have a suggestion.

Fresh eyes.

Eyes that see the truths of Scripture as though for the first time.

And how does that happen?

Answer: The Holy Spirit pulls it off.  Only He can do it.

And so we pray. 

“Father, give me fresh eyes to see Thy truths.  And a believing heart to obey them.”

I think of the “open my eyes” Scriptures…

Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’  (2 Kings 6:17).

The eyes of the Lord roam to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.  (2 Chronicles 16:9).  I’m not sure it fits here, but isn’t this a wonderful verse?

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glory, and the greatness of His power.  (Ephesians 1:18)

So, we have good scriptural background for praying that the Lord would open our eyes.  Give us fresh eyes, so to speak.

My suggestion is simply…

To pray. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see these amazing things He has planted in His word for us to see, to enjoy, to benefit from, to obey.

Psalm 119:18 says it as well as it can be said: Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things from Thy law. 

I suggest that you and I begin every Scripture reading with that prayer.