What do you think? Could anything take Jesus by surprise?
How about this? “And he was amazed at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6, NLT). In His hometown, those who had watched Jesus grow up could not stomach the idea of Him being a mighty prophet. (I chuckle because those townspeople would have fit well into today’s cultural climate: “They were deeply offended…” [v. 3] Deeply offended, anyone? Sound familiar?? Also, could there be a connection between unbelief and being easily offended?). At any rate, I digress. Back to the point. There was something here that caused our Savior amazement: that the people of Nazareth could reach such lows of unbelief!
That’s not all though. There’s another story where we read about Jesus being surprised. This time, His surprise is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum: “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!’” (Matt. 8:10, NLT). Wow! So there are two ways to amaze Jesus:
- Outstanding unbelief AND
- Outstanding faith
As I have been journeying through the gospels again, I keep noticing how much Jesus likes faith. Over and over, He said to those He healed, “Your faith has done it.” I love His enthusiastic response to the Canaanite woman: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire” (Matt 15:28, NKJV). Technically, she was not even supposed to receive the benefits of His ministry yet, as it was still the season targeting “the lost sheep of Israel” (v. 24). Yet, so compelling was her confidence in His goodness, that her faith got her special access to His miracles.
Yes, our Lord really likes faith! The writer of Hebrews takes this even a step further: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Heb. 11:6, NKJV). Apparently, the only way to bring pleasure to God’s heart… is to deeply trust Him and to wholeheartedly believe every word that He utters.
Reading these truths, it would be easy to fall into the trap of worrying about the quality of our faith. However, we can take profound comfort in what the very next chapter of Hebrews teaches us. Jesus is the Founder and Finisher of our faith, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our trust in Him (Heb. 12:2). It is His job to progressively take us deeper into a lifestyle posture of perpetual trust and confidence in Him. We can rest completely in His promise to do so, as we keep surrendering to Him every day (Phil. 1:6).
So let’s do two things today. One, let’s entrust to Him the job of perfecting our faith. Let’s relinquish the weight of that responsibility entirely to Him. And two, from that place of complete dependence on Him, let’s keep engaging with the process. Let’s keep going to God’s gym and working out our faith muscles. Let’s look for ways to take new steps of faith today. Let’s ask Him even now, “In the next twenty-four hours, Lord, how are you calling me to step out in faith? How can I emulate those individuals in Scripture that amazed You with their faith?”
Surrendering to Jesus the job of perfecting your faith… and continually making the active choice to trust and believe Him… how do these two things go together? Is it on Him, or is it on us? Both?