There are many things in life that give us a cause for wonder. Generally it is when we witness something so beautiful and/or majestic that it calls upon our hearts to wonder how it came to be. God often gives us opportunity to fill our minds with such musings; Sometimes it is through a beautiful sunset/sunrise, sometimes it is through a child’s laughter, sometimes through a bowl of rocky road ice cream…
On the other hand, sometimes we are caused to wonder at the evil in the world, sometimes we are caused to wonder at the evil in our heart and our private thoughts. Sometimes we, like King Solomon of old, are left to wonder at the brevity of life and its apparent futility:
“Vanity of vanities says the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity…”
Watching my father die of cancer, holding his hand as he breathed his last, listening to his own wonderings leading up to his death when he would say…”What did I do to deserve this?”; These experiences caused me to wonder: Where would my soul be if it was me dying there?
The Source of Wonder
Wonderment is provoked in us by any event or observation that causes us to ponder its source. It leads us on to a process of discovery. Unfortunately, that process is often misinterpreted by our corrupted senses and we come to erroneous conclusions based on false assumptions about the world and its origins.
If and when we finally discover our error, we realize the need for a paradigm shift in our thinking. Here is a definition of the word Paradigm:
- A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
It seems that God is in the habit of challenging our paradigms. This is never so true as when we consider the person of Jesus Christ. Even the prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years before Jesus was born describes Him as being a source of wonder:
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 NKJV
Consider the paradigm shifts this verse describes:
- A child that is born who is Mighty God;
- A Son that is given who is Everlasting Father;
- The Ruler of the world who is not received as King, but as a Prince of Peace.
- One who is beyond understanding (Wonderful) but who is able to clearly reveal Himself (Counselor).
Doesn’t such a description cause us to wonder who could fulfill such a role?
From the moment of the angel Gabriels announcement to young Mary, the incarnation of God has been a source of wonder. (Luke 1:34) In fact, the reader is challenged to discover the number of times in the gospels that the word ‘Marvel’ is linked to the person of Jesus Christ.
A few examples to consider are these:
- At the marriage feast in Cana, the master of ceremonies, and his servants, marveled at the miracle of the best wine produced at the Word of the Lord (John 2:1-10);
- The people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth wondered at the gracious words that proceeded from His mouth (Luke 4:22);
- The disciples of the Lord Jesus were astonished at the great catch of fish that was produced at His Word. (Luke 5:1-11)
As opposition to Jesus among the ruling elites grew, consider how the people who had gathered from all over Galilee and Judea to hear Him preach, marveled at the paradox of what they had seen. They said, “we have seen strange things (Gk. paradoxos) today” (Luke 5:26)…
Here was this one condemned by the religious rulers as a blasphemer for telling a paralytic man that his sins were forgiven. Yet, in the next breath Jesus displays His power as the Son of God by commanding this man to walk away on what were previously unused and atrophied legs. (Matthew 9:6,7)
Ultimately the disciples of the Lord Jesus were overwhelmed by the paradox of witnessing the unjust trial and horribly painful and humiliating execution of this one who they rightly confessed was Christ, Son of the Living God. Why would God allow this horrible atrocity to occur against His own Son?
After Jesus died, because it was a Sabbath day, Jesus’ body was hastily wrapped for burial and placed in the tomb of a believing Pharisee named Joseph. (Luke 23:50-56) Those women who had followed Jesus all of the way to His cross had a strong desire to properly anoint His body for burial according to Jewish tradition. However, there was a new source of wonder that awaited them…
As a practical matter, they wondered who would roll the stone away for them. (Mark 16:3) We read that one of the women was formerly a social outcast named Mary Magdalene out of whom the Lord cast seven demons. She would be the first to see her Lord, risen out from among the dead.
As she approached the tomb, she had to wonder:
- Who would move the stone?
- Why did Christ save me from demon possession only to allow Himself to be so horribly murdered?
- What would she say to the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb? They could imprison or kill her for even asking the question: -imagine her courage, her resolve, her commitment.
- How futile and dangerous her efforts seemed to be
- What condition would she find the body in?
The wonder that awaited them we can explore later in future posts. For the moment however, I want to ask the reader to consider how that the wonder of Jesus Christ life, death, burial and resurrection impacts our lives.
The Weight of Sin
First of all, the Lord often chooses to reveal Himself to those who are least esteemed in society, but whose heart longs for what is right. We read:
“The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise.”
Psalm 51:17 NKJV
How can we come to that place of offering ourselves to God just as we are, when all of our lives we have defiantly resisted Him? There is a massive stone of sin that separates us from God. It cannot be moved by human effort.
These stones that covered the graves were designed to never be moved again once they were in place. (Mark 16:4) Furthermore, since this stone was sealed with a Roman seal, any attempt to do so would be a crime worthy of capital punishment. Why did Mary Magdalene not turn around as she wondered how the stone could be moved?
Perhaps it was because Mary had not only learned from experience what God was capable of, but she had learned what God’s character is. He not only did good things but she learned from her experience with Jesus Christ that God is always good. She loved Him for who He is – because He had first loved her, (1 John 4:19) not merely for what He could do for her.
She did not yet understand why Jesus had to be crucified, she just knew that He had delivered her from her many sins and that she needed to be with Him. Even if it meant that she be thrust through with a Roman spear.
The Weight of Fear
There is also the massive stone of fear as we wonder how to confront the enemies of Christ. This Roman seal guaranteed that no one could get to the body of Jesus. (Matthew 27: 55, 66) For many who are confronted with the claims of Christ on their soul, the desire to receive Him is strong but the fear of the world’s opposition for doing so is stronger.
For some the fear is that Christian life is as boring as a two hour church service with an hour long sermon. For most there is the fear of what friends and family will think of them. For many throughout the world it means the loss of status and may even mean the threat of death or exile from their community. These are massive stones that are impossible to move in the flesh.
Isn’t it wonderful that Mary’s persistent love for God was rewarded with the sight of the stone already rolled away and the Roman seal and guard were gone? (Matthew 28:1-4) Dear reader, there is only thing that God desires of you and me. Regardless of our circumstances or fears God is ready and able to remove the massive stone of sin and fear that separates us from Him.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 NKJV
There is no greater source of wonder to me than this:
Mighty God simply wants sinners like you and I to love Him more than anything that He has created…Look up Child of God
Now that we have looked at Mary’s reason to wonder, Lord willing, we will also be looking at her Reason to Weep and her Reason to Worship.
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