The Astonishing Gospel
"The whole crowd was astonished at His teaching" Mark 11:18
Jesus was only one man, there were scores of money changers. Yet before this one man the unarmed men fled in abject panic. These men knew what they were doing was indefensible. When Jesus challenged them not a man dared stand their ground in His presence.
What Jesus did and said that day came with power and accomplished two things: it sealed His rejection by the religious leaders, and for a moment captured the people's hearts. The chief priests were held back from murdering Jesus by one thing alone—
fear of the multitude. The religious leaders had to deal with Jesus’ adoring crowd. The favorable public opinion of Jesus was that they loved Him, they rejoiced in Him. At least for the moment, that opinion of Jesus was acting as a force of good.
We often discount the unstoppable force of God’s people. All of God’s people together were strong enough to say to the forces creating oppression and poverty, "let my people go!" Pharaoh and his massive army could not contain God’s people. In Jerusalem the chief priest feared Jesus because the multitude took him so seriously. Throughout history, social advances, intellectual progress and spiritual revival have been affected by the faith of the people.
The spiritual climate astonished the crowd. What Jesus said was sharp and powerful enough to be astonishing. He spoke with spiritual authority and not as the scribes, in a hodgepodge of obscure rules and regulations. Jesus spoke with persuasive love of people. His devotion to the rights of worshipers was what inspired the clearing of the temple courts. And it was because He spoke with courage that He knew no bounds.
We would do well to look at ourselves and ask, “does our faith ever astonish anyone?” Is the gospel we proclaim with clarity and power an astonishing gospel? Or have we mastered the ability to take the message of God’s relentless love and tenderness, and reduced it to dull, drowsy platitudes? If there is no abiding astonishment in the message, how can there ever be salvation?
Have you been astonished by the saving work of Jesus in your life?