open-mouthed amazement

When we visit my sister I always have to take some magic tricks to show my niece Bethany. (She’s 18, by the way!). I love doing this because she is such an appreciative audience and keen participant.

Imagine the scene from our last visit, earlier this month. I give a playing card to Bethany,who signs it. I fold it into four and she clenches it between her teeth. I take a second playing card, sign it, fold it in four and clench it between my teeth. We touch playing cards and I ask her to take out the card that was in her mouth and open it as I do the same. She has my signed card and I have hers.

Cue open-mouthed astonishment from Bethany (she is my best audience) and a sense of satisfaction that I have managed to pull off a trick that I saw someone do on the TV and worked out myself.

Look at this from Bethany’s perspective and then imagine how it felt to be there when Jesus healed the sick, fed multitudes with very limited resources, even raised the dead. Open-mouthed astonishment? We can become so used to reading about Jesus that we can forget the incredible nature of the things he did. The one who established the immutable laws of science – gravity, laws of motion and so on, was bending them and transcending them in order to demonstrate God’s love and begin the ushering in of the new era of God’s kingdom coming on earth.

Look at the same events from my perspective and then imagine how Jesus felt when people were flocking to him because of the amazing things he was doing. I was chuffed. But Jesus… he responded to need out of compassion, he didn’t do magic tricks to impress. Many of the crowd were looking to see something spectacular. Many people were delighted but not transformed. It made little difference to them. Ultimately that lack of life-changing response meant that the crowd who cried ‘Hosanna’ on Palm Sunday could scream ‘crucify’ on Good Friday. I think it must have been really difficult for him to have been misunderstood, ignored and opposed when all he was doing was seeking to be God’s love in action.

Do you need to sit in open-mouthed amazement at Jesus?

Do you need to consider whether your motive is to be appreciated or to be a blessing?

Be blessed. Be a blessing.

An Amish boy and his father were visiting a large shopping mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again. The boy asked his father, “What is this, Father?” The father responded, “Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what it is.”

While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed an old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights w/numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction. The walls opened up again and a beautiful 24 year old woman stepped out.

The father’s mouth dropped open in amazement and then he said to his son, “Go and get your Mother.”

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