I love the word “marvel” it is an interesting word. I liked reading Marvel Comics when I was young. The art and the words used to tell the story of a superhero doing “marvelous” things or having marvelous abilities are so much fun for the imagination. In real life we might say that athletes on the court or on the field perform marvelous feats of skills. Sometimes I marvel at things my kids say or take an interest in. To marvel at something is to be surprised and to wonder in amazement. In the gospels we find a time of marveling. Mary marvels at her son Jesus. The crowds marvel at Jesus. Roman governors marvel at Jesus. The disciples marvel at Jesus. Even the Pharisees marvel at Jesus. Can we blame them? Jesus walks on water. He controls the wind and waves. He raises the dead. How can they not marvel at this man, his authority, and his miracles? God in the flesh is something to truly marvel at.
While the Greek word for marvel or wonder (θαυμάζω – thaumazō) is used eight times in the book of Matthew it is also used freely in the other gospels of Luke, Mark, and even John. Luke the physician uses the word in his gospel even more than Matthew. The impact of Jesus on these men is profound. Yet Matthew and Luke recount a moment when a Roman Centurion (commander of 100 men) asks for Jesus to heal one of his servants.
10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. Matthew 8:10 ESV
The way this man approached Jesus. The faith of this foreigner in Jesus is amazing and both Mathew and Luke use the world “marvel” to describe the reaction from Jesus. Here is God working miracles and teaching the people how he wants them to live and he marvels at this soldier. Now God can’t learn anything new so he knows this man but the moment of wonder is still amazing to God.
What is it that this man said or did that moved Jesus to amazement? Did this solider go out and win a battle to make God marvel? Did he earn a billion dollars to elicit such marvel? What act of good deeds did this soldier undertake? What is it that makes God marvel? Jesus explains his marveling in the very same verse. Here is Luke’s version of the same.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9 ESV
I marvel at the fact that Jesus was impressed by the faith of this soldier. This solider came to Jesus and trusted him to take care of the problem. This solider had more faith than anyone else in all of Israel. I marvel at that. Jesus is recorded as marveling one other time in the Gospels. Any guess what he marveled at? The answer is “Faith” he marveled at the faith of an entire town but with a twist.
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him… And [his hometown] took offense at him… 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:1-6 ESV
This is the only other time that Jesus marvels, not because of great faith, but because of unbelief or a lack of faith. Faith in God is clearly what moves God and makes him marvel.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 ESV
What moves God? A blessed life, a big home, a large family, athletic ability, smarts, money, or power? No God is not impressed by any of those things. Faith! God can be impressed with our faith in him. If you have not already done so is now the time to draw near to him in faith trusting the unseen God who is ever present? Jesus is the priest and he facilitates our connection with God. Will you submit to him and see him marvel at your faith?
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:21-22 ESV