“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him” – Luke 7:9
When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised?
I realize not everyone likes surprises but I am convinced that it is inherently good to broaden the boundaries of our expectations. As Christians, we are called to be a people of possibility since we worship the God who says, “With me, all things are possible.” A willingness to be surprised is a humble declaration that says, “I believe there are more options beyond what I have experienced.” In one of my favorite stories from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus models this kind of humble heart.
In Luke 7, a Roman centurion sends a messenger to Jesus asking Jesus to heal the centurion’s servant. The Roman centurion is an agent of an oppressive regime and are despised by many of the Jews. Jesus makes what some would consider a scandalous decision, and goes to the home of the centurion. However, while on his way another messenger from the centurion comes to Jesus and says, “You do not need to come to heal the servant. I believe in the authority and power you possess. You only need to say “be healed” and my servant will be healed.” This proclamation of faith from someone who was deemed an outsider to the Jewish faith, amazed Jesus.
Some theologians and biblical scholars debated about whether or not Jesus was truly surprised by the centurion. They try to separate amazement from surprise. They get hung up on ideas about omniscience and on questions about what exactly did Jesus know. Can Jesus know everything and still be fully human? However, I think that Jesus’ amazement is less about his mind full of facts and more about his humble heart. Jesus was willing to be amazed by a centurion. Jesus was open to the possibility that the centurion could be more than the two-dimensional straw man his detractors made him out to be.
For many of us the last couple of years have been difficult. The challenges we have faced can easily emboldened cynicism. Sometimes it’s tempting to close ourselves off to possibility as a way to protect us from being disappointed. These realities tell me that cultivating a humble heart open to being amazed is practice of faith. A willingness to be pleasantly surprised can be an act worship when we place our hope in God. When God surprises us and amazes us our heart cannot help but give praise and thanks.