Friday, September 19, 2008

Does Astonished Equal Changed?

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

"the crowds were astonished at his sayings." Astonished - To fill with sudden wonder or amazement.

As I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 with the Asbury community, I have been praying that God would use this scripture to transform me more and more into the likeness of Jesus. That I would not just read the words and fill my time with a ritual but instead that the image of God in me would slowly be revealed. So the passage above struck me today as I read it.

When Jesus taught, the crowds were astonished or amazed. They thought to themselves, "Man, that guy can preach! He did a really great job today!" But the question for me becomes, "They were astonished but were they changed?" The teachings of Jesus in the setting of the people were mind-blowing. He was speaking out against Rome, against religious zealotry, against the hypocrisy of the most pious people in the religious community, and he taught of a way of life that seems to go against everything we know of as the "right" or "most effective" way of living. His teachings WERE ASTONISHING.

But were the people on the mount that day changed? Did they leave and live in the way Jesus was teaching? The disciples don't seem to truly grasp the concept until Jesus actually leaves and the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost. You wonder if Peter still truly got it until after he went to visit Cornelius. Even then?

I am praying that I will be astonished by Jesus' teaching. It is radical! But I also pray that it won't be left there. That the grace of God through the Holy Spirit will lead me to life change so that I can live in this new and radical way.

God, change us and lead us in the way of Your Kingdom on earth. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

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