Do you remember what it feels like to experience something you couldn’t quite grasp? An experience so powerful that it left you speechless, smiling from ear to ear? Can you remember that feeling of wonder, amazement, and awe? Sometimes it happens to you. Maybe it was meeting your favorite author, seeing a close magic trick, or the joy of good worship. Maybe you felt it through the eyes of someone else. Two weeks ago, I saw that sense of wonder again and again through the eyes of FBC and SBC during our Fall Break trip to Disney World. It is a truly magical feeling, and it is often totally unexpected
It may seem odd to think about these positive experiences of wonder and awe in light of the encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees in Sunday’s Gospel lesson. This is a story of fear, entrapment, and power, what does it have to do with the profoundly good feeling of joy and wonder: the stuff we pray for at Baptism? Well, it seems as though an encounter meant to trap Jesus into either blasphemy or treason ended up having a profound impact on his would be nemeses.
“When they heard this, they were amazed.” Mt. 22:22a
The Greek word translated as “amazed” can also mean “marvel” or “wonder.” Jesus’ brilliant response to their trap left even those who saw him as an enemy in a state of sheer wonderment. Perhaps they were disappointed or frustrated, but I think it is more likely that they were beginning to realize that Jesus was something more than a thorn in their side. This Jesus character was the real deal. As Tuesday in Holy Week wears on, there are two more encounters between Jesus and the Pharisees. First, a lawyer asks him about the greatest commandment. Second, Jesus schools them on the Messiah. By the end of the day, Matthew tells us, they wouldn’t ask Jesus another question. They so marveled at his wisdom, that they had to know he was someone or something special.
So, if even the Pharisees marveled at Jesus, what is stopping you? Episcopalians tend to be heady people. They want to know a lot about Jesus, but end up not knowing Jesus very well at all. Ask God for a personal encounter with Christ. Create space and silence to welcome Jesus in. Feel the wonder and marvel at his love.