And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant…
Now in the morning, when He returned to the city, He became hungry. And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. And seeing this, the disciples marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it shall happen.
– Matthew 21:14-15, 18-21 NAS
The chief priests and scribes personally see “wonderful things”Jesus did in healing the lame man, the children worshipping the Son of David, and they became indignant. The disciples see Jesus curse a fig tree and they marvel because it dried up immediately.
It is really odd sometimes what we marvel at and what frustrates us. If you could put yourself in the shoes of those who saw Jesusheal someone, it seems ridiculous that anyone would be angry or indignant about something so fantastic. Maybe they were already upset because Jesus had come into the temple and destroyed the KIOSK stations where people were being exploited during the festival. Notice that the children seem to be in awe of Jesus and were singing praises to Him. Children have not grown up to be filled with our typical skepticism, cynicism and suspicious perspective on others. They may be naive but they do not have a problem marveling at Jesus and worshipping Him. To witness the healing power of Jesus to change someone’s life would be something that we would generally consider unbelievable, and yet to see it with our own eyes, would be awesome!
On the other hand the disciples seem amazed that a fig tree shrivels up immediately when Jesus curses it. Is that a bad thing? I am not in the camp that says we should never marvel when God works. It is exciting and encouraging when God intervenes in such a profound way. They had never seen this before so it would be natural to be really impressed with what Jesus did. I get it – why would we ever be surprised at the power of God working? My response would simply be, why would we not be amazed? God give us the privilege to experience Him first hand that would be awesome.
But we can find ourselves in a similar situation in life like the scribes and the disciples. The things that are truly amazing is how God changes and transforms people’s lives. But in our culture it is sometimes hard to get an enthusiastic amen, to such events. We all acknowledge it is pretty cool but sometimes I think that when we hear some miraculous event, a narrative that we have not seen with our own eyes, we can be skeptical about the accuracy and authenticity of the event. We have a tendency to think people over exaggerate their experiences to make it sound more spectacular or they embellish the actual events to make it sound spiritual. We may not be indignant or angry but we can have a healthy dose of suspicion about someone else’s experience.
But to see someone blow up a tree or destroy something instantly sounds like our modern day adrenaline junkies who will try almost anything for the thrill. We see it in our movies and we love special effects, they are really cool. It is unlikely that the amazement of the disciples was wrong, but it makes me think that sometimes we are amazed at things that happen in our circumstances and sometimes not quite as amazed at the real power of God when it changes people.
What do you really wonder at? What captures your heart so that you want to just stare at it for a long time because it is really awe-inspiring? Are we amazed at things that are not really the ultimate things to value and seem skeptical at the power of God to change lives?
This Christmas I hope that you will not be overly awed with the Christmas gifts and really be awe-struck with the incarnation of the Son of God. May we have a certain naïve exuberance that stands in awe of that which ought to truly make us wonder?