Devotional for July 8, 2018

Devotional for July 8, 2018 based upon Mark 6: 1-13

If you were to ask people about their favorite hymn, how many do you think would say, “Amazing Grace”? I have a feeling more people would say that hymn than any other hymn. We all identify with the words of John Newton – “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.”

Many times during my years in ministry I officiated at a graveside service where the family arranged for someone to play bagpipes. They always played “Amazing Grace.”

Charles Wesley wrote a hymn about God’s amazing love, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain.” The chorus goes like this – “Amazing love, how can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

Yes, God’s grace and love are amazing. May we never stop being amazed by them.

But did you know that the Bible tells of times when Jesus was amazed? Our Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday is among them. In Mark 6: 5 it says that Jesus could do no deed of power in His hometown of Nazareth, except that He did lay His lands on a few sick people and cure them. And then it says in verse 6, “He was amazed at their unbelief.”

How much better is the situation in Luke 7 when Jesus was on His way to the home of a centurion, who had a slave whom he valued highly who was close to death. The centurion sent some friends to Jesus to tell Jesus that He did not need to actually come to and enter into the centurion’s house. (I have a feeling that the centurion was wanting to be sensitive to Jewish purification laws and did not want Jesus to have to defile Himself by coming into the centurion’s house.) Rather he knew that all Jesus would need to do would be to “speak the word, and let my servant be healed.” (verse 7) The centurion related to this personally by saying that just as people obeyed his orders, so he knew that whatever or whoever was causing his servant’s terminal illness would obey Jesus’ orders. Luke tells us, “When Jesus heard this He was amazed at him and said, ‘Not even in Israel have I found such faith.’” (verse 9)

May we always be amazed by God’s grace and love. May we never get so used to them that we stop being amazed by them. And may Jesus be amazed by our faith rather than by our lack of faith.

Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE