Exclamation of Wonder (The Marvel of Jesus)
October 21st, 1979 @ 10:50 AM
EXCLAMATIONS OF WONDER
BEFORE THE LORD JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-21-79 10:50 a.m.
It is a gladness – a joy unspeakable for us – in the First Baptist Church in Dallas to welcome the uncounted thousands and thousands of you who are listening to this service on the two radio stations that bear it; and upon the cable television in the states of the Southwest; and, of course, the thousands of families who are gathered around their television sets in the Metroplex. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Exclamations of Wonder Before the Lord Jesus, or The Marvel of Jesus. The sermon comes out of three Greek words that are translated by – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight – eight words in the forty-second verse of the fifth chapter of Mark.
In the translation it reads like this – Mark 5:42: "And they were astonished with a great astonishment." This was their reaction when Jesus raised the twelve-year old daughter of Jairus – the ruler of the synagogue – from the dead. "They were astonished with a great astonishment."
The Greek of that, you will recognize. The Greek is exestesan ekstases megale. Now you have a word exactly like that, "ecstasy." There’s a Greek verb, histemi, which means "to place," "to set," "to stand." When you put ek in front of it – ekhistemi – it means, "to stand out," "to place out," "to put out." When you make it passive, it refers to somebody who is standing outside of himself. He is beside himself. That’s what our word, "ecstasy," which is the Greek word exactly, spelled in English; a man is just so happy, he’s so full of exaltation and glory that he’s just beside himself. He’s outside of himself. Those are exactly the words used here.
When the people saw what the Lord had done, they were ecstatic! They were outside of themselves. They were beside themselves – translated here "astonished with." And the Greek word, megale, means "great," "wonderful," "intense." They were ecstatic! They were beside themselves! They were astonished with a vast, immeasurable, intense, and wonderful amazement!
When I look at these beginning chapters of the Book of Mark, typical of all of the other chapters that describe the life of our Lord, you’ll find that reaction to Jesus on every page – almost at every paragraph.
For example, in Mark 1:22, "And they were astonished at His doctrine; for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes." In that same chapter, verse 27:
And they were all amazed, and they questioned among themselves, saying, What is this? For with authority He commandeth even unclean spirits, and they obey Him.
And His fame spread throughout all the region. That chapter ends – the first chapter; "They began to publish and to blaze abroad the matter, so much that Jesus could not anymore openly enter into a city" [Mark 1:42].
When I turn the page to the second chapter, verse 12: "And they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion." On the other side of the page, chapter 3:
Jesus healed many, insomuch that they pressed upon Him for to touch Him.
For unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.
I turn the page. At the conclusion of the fourth chapter, "And they were amazed exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" And then in the next chapter, my text:
Exestesan ekstases megale – "They were outside of themselves, beyond themselves, in an amazing and wonderful astonishment" [Mark 5:42]. This is the reaction of the people who watched Jesus in the days of His flesh.
And the sermon this morning – out of a multitude of those exclamations of wonder – I have chosen four. The first concerns the deeds that He did. The exclamation: "And the multitudes marveled saying, It was never so seen in Israel" [Matthew 9:33].
What had Israel seen? Israel had seen Moses strike water from the rock. Israel had seen the exploits of Gideon and of Sampson in the days of the judges. Israel had seen the marvelous miracles of Elijah and Elisha. But when they looked upon Jesus and saw what He did, they marveled, saying, "It was never so seen in Israel."
It was unbelievable, unimaginable, the mighty power in just the word of the Lord. By fiat, He seemed to control all of the forces of heaven above and earth beneath. For example, a Roman centurion came to Him, and said, "Lord, heal my servant." You can read throughout the life of our Lord, there was never ever a request made to Him for help but that He answered immediately. There’s never an exception to that. Sometimes, He would be in the midst of a great sermon, a great address, and when appeal was made for help, He ceased His speaking and followed after, like a slave, to do the work of somebody who needed His strength and His presence – His healing. That’s the Lord Jesus.
And this despised and hated Roman centurion, who was a sign of the oppressive degradation of the nation, he came and asked the Lord to heal his servant. And the Lord said, "I will come." And, in deepest humility, that officer of the Roman legion said, "Lord, I’m not worthy that You come into my house, that You stand under my roof. You just speak the word only and my servant shall be healed" [Matthew 8:8], the impression the Lord made upon those who saw Him in the days of His flesh – "just speak the word, Lord" – by fiat – "my servant will be healed" [Matthew 8:8], and he was.
And I turn the page, and the Lord is asleep in the midst of a storm on the sea. Because of the height of Mount Hermon, which is over nine thousand feet – and the depth of the Sea of Galilee, which is about nine hundred feet below sea level – because of that vast differential between the cold up there and the heat down here, sometimes, storms will arise on the sea – just like that, hit it with terrific violence and force. So the Lord is asleep, and one of those turbulent, violent storms strike. And the disciples cried to Him, saying, "Lord, awake. Save us! We perish!" The Lord stands in the ship, in the boat, and He says, "Oh, ye of little faith." And He arose and spoke to the winds, and the water; and there was a great calm. And it was then, the exclamation: "And the men marveled saying, What manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" [Matthew 8:23-27]. There’s not an atom, there’s not a molecule, there’s not an electron or proton in the universe, but that moves at the command of the divine fiat. He holds the world in His hands. Israel had seen many marvelous and wonderful things; but they had never seen anything like the deeds and the mightiness of the Lord Jesus.
Our second exclamation of wonder at the Lord: the officers of the temple sent a contingency to arrest Him and to bring Him back in chains and in bonds. So, when they reappeared, the Pharisees and the chief priests said to the officers: "Where is He? Why haven’t you brought Him?" And the officers answered, "Never a man spake like that man!" [John 7:46]. That’s an unusual answer to give for not having a prisoner; but I can well understand when you think of what Jesus said. "Never a man spake like that Man."
Now you think of what Israel had heard. "It was never so heard in Israel!" Not, what that Man said! Israel had heard Moses on the plains of Moab deliver those marvelous addresses that we have in the Bible, called Deuteronomy. Israel had heard David sing the psalms – the sweet psalmist singer of Israel. Israel had heard Solomon deliver those proverbs. Israel had heard Isaiah, the court preacher, in the most beautiful, parabolic, flights of oratory and poetry that mind could imagine. But Israel never heard anybody speak like that Man spake. "Never a man spake like that Man!"
Look at what He said. I looked this week at the fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, the first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. And five times in that chapter, the Lord will say, "Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time . . ." Then He will quote a commandment, maybe one of the Ten Commandments. Or, He will quote one of the great traditions of the elders. Then after He quotes it, He will say, "You have heard them say that, but I say unto you. . ." and He will place a blazing, marvelous, re-spiritual interpretation on the commandment in the Old Covenant. Who is this that arrogates to Himself such authority? Who is this? "Never a man spake like that Man."
Take again, what the Lord said about Himself. If you’ll go through the Gospel of John and mark all of those passages where the Lord describes Himself, you can’t believe it. They couldn’t either. "Never a man spake like that man!" [John 7:46]. He will say, for example: "My sheep hear My voice; and I give unto them eternal life." Who is this?
I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of My hand.
My Father, who gave them Me is greater than all; and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
I and my Father are one.
Making Himself equal with God. Who is this? Or take again, "Verily, verily, I say unto you before Abraham was, I am" [John 8:58]. Who is this, "I Am"? [Exodus 3:14]. Or take again, the greatest, profoundest sentence ever said by human lips. This is it:
I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.
Who is that? Or, look again as He says, "I am the way. . ." – he hodos, "the way"; kai ha aletheia, "the truth"; kai he zoe, "the life." Who is this? "Never a man spake like that Man."
My dear people, on the lips of anybody else in the earth, those words would seem ridiculous, irreverent, sacrilegious. Think of the greatest men who have appeared in human history. Can you imagine Alexander the Great saying those words? Or, Julius Caesar? Or, Napoleon Bonaparte? In our lifetime, I think there lived one of the greatest men of all human history, Winston Churchill. In the days of the despair of the Second World War, he lifted up the hearts of the whole earth! Every time it was announced Winston Churchill would speak on radio, I’d be there, listening. Think of that man! "If the British Empire shall last for a thousand years, let it be said, ‘This is their finest hour.’" And we just rose to live again. Winston Churchill. But I could not conceive of Winston Churchill saying these words.
You know, Jesus will walk along as a humble peasant – simple, plain, poor – ministering to those who are in need. And then suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, He will rise without parallel, without paradigm, without precedent and stand before us as God of very God; so much so, that were a man listening to Him exclaim, "My Lord, and my God" [John 20:28], no one in the listening assembly would feel that the adoration, that the exclamation, that the tribute of love and worship, was irreverent, or irrelevant, or sacrilegious: "My Lord and my God." He is not one among many. He is many in One – the multitudinous Man. "Never a man spake like that Man!"
I choose a third exclamation: this arose out of the sympathy and the love and the compassion of His soul. They say to Him, "Your friend, Lazareth, has died." And He comes. And He asks, "Where have your laid him?" And they say to Him, "Lord, come and see. Come and see." And then the shortest verse in the Bible – literally translated: "Jesus burst into tears"; here, translated, "Jesus wept" [John 11:34, 35]. "Jesus burst into tears." And they said, "Behold, how He loved him." And some of them said, "Could not this Man who opened the eyes of the blind have caused that Lazareth should not have died?" [John 11:36, 37], an exclamation of the love, and sympathy, and compassion, and deep feeling of our Lord.
What Israel had seen, what Israel had heard, what Israel had felt: Israel had heard and felt the cry of Moses, when interceding on behalf of his people, he said, "Lord, forgive their sin." Then, a long, dark, black dash; and he doesn’t complete it. " – and if not, blot my name, I pray Thee, out of the book which Thou has written" [Exodus 32:32].
Israel had heard Ruth say to Naomi:
Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God.
Israel had heard the lament of David over the slain Jonathan. And Israel had heard Jeremiah cry over the lostness of his nation: "Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the lost of the daughter of my people!" [Jeremiah 9:1].
But Israel had never seen or felt such love and compassion as they saw and felt in the love and mercy of our blessed Lord. "It was never so seen in Israel" [Matthew 9:33].
In the story above my text, there is a ruler named Jairus, the head of the synagogue in Capernaum. And he comes, and he falls down before the Lord Jesus. And he says, "Lord Jesus, my little daughter is sick unto death. But come Thou and lay Thou hands upon her and she’ll be healed; and she shall live. Come and lay Thou hands upon her" [Mark 5:22-23]. Why wouldn’t anybody’s hands do? Why wouldn’t any hands do? Why Thy hands? I don’t know. We’re all made that way, and we can’t help it. We just are like that. There are times in our lives when it’s just one somebody’s hands that we wish to be laid upon us.
Maybe, I wish mother were here. I wish mother could stand by me now and help me now. There was healing in mother’s godly hands. You can’t help that.
Sobbing in her pillow, many a widow cries saying, "Oh! that my husband were here. His strong arms and his strong hands would help me." Multiply that ten-thousand times, and you’ll find the comfort and the strength that came to those in need who found healing in the hands of our Lord. "Thy hands. . . Lay Thy hands upon her."
And this next verse: "And Jesus arose and followed him." Why, man, you’d think He was a servant. You’d think He was a hired hand. You’d think He was a slave, just following after Jairus. But that’s our Lord: humble, no pride to be ministered to, no ego to be fed and fathered – humble, follow after the man [Mark 5:24]. That’s the Lord. That’s Jesus. Dear God, there never was any moment, any time in all of His ministry where anyone made appeal to Him that immediately He did not answer.
But you say to me, "Now, pastor, I have called on Him, and He didn’t answer me. I sought for Him, and I didn’t find Him." How did you seek Him? And how did you call on Him? Did you do it in the lamp of your own intelligence? Did you do it in some cunningly devised appeal that was born out of your own imagination or selfish thinking? How did you call on Him? In intellectual curiosity, is that the way you did it?
My sweet brother and my precious sister, there never was a man or a woman whose eyes were on the dust, and his hand upon his heart, and his prayer was a sob and a cry, and not words, but that Jesus was right there – right there. I have never seen in the fifty-one years I have been a pastor, I have never seen the Lord Jesus crown pride, and arrogance, and self-sufficiency. But my brothers and sisters, I have been present on a thousand occasions when the Lord circled the brow of humility and crying with the choicest garlands of heaven.
Would you look up into His face? Would you love to see Him? Kneel down, humble yourself, ask Him for help in time of need, and He will be right there. He will lay His hands of healing upon your heart and head.
For we have not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tried as we are, though he without sin.
Wherefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may find grace for help in time of trouble.
[Hebrews 4:15, 16]
Jesus is there.
My last exclamation comes out of the Revelation, from whence we read our Scripture. "They sang a new song. . ." This is Revelation 5:9, and following:
They sang a new song: saying, Thou art worthy to take the book. . .
– the Book of Redemption –
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, for Thou wast slain, and Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.
And Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign upon the earth.
And it was then that I heard a voice of many angels round about the throne . . . the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
– innumerable –
Singing – saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature in heaven and on earth . . . heard I repeating that marvelous refrain.
Over what? Saying, "Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and language, and family under the sun." This is the great deliverance that we have in our marvelous and wonderful Lord. What Israel had seen, what Israel had heard, what Israel had felt, what Israel experienced: "It was never so seen in Israel" [Matthew 9:33].
Israel had witnessed the great deliverance at the Red Sea. Israel had witnessed the mighty deliverance from the armies of Amalek. Israel had seen the deliverance that came to Jerusalem when the armies of the Assyrian, Sennacherib, shut up the city as in a vice.
Israel had witnessed the deliverance of the nation from the hatred of Haman, when Esther was used of God, "She who had come to the kingdom for such a time as this" [Esther 4:14], after which they established the beautiful Feast of Purim in thanksgiving [Esther 9:20-32].
Israel had witnessed many marvelous and wonderful deliverances; but there has never been, nor ever will be, a redemption, a deliverance, like this: when He – the God and the King of all the earth, the Lord of all time and history – when He shall deliver His people from sin, and death, and the grave. Every syllable and sentence of the years before Christ pointed in preparation to the days of His incarnation and His cross.
And my brethren, every syllable and sentence and every incident of modern history points to the day of His coming again, "When the Lord shall descend with a shout, with a voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God; when the dead shall rise first; when we shall be caught up to meet them in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:16]; when we all shall be changed; when righteousness covers the earth, as waters cover the sea; when there shall be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, for these things are passed away [Revelation 21:4], when Jesus shall come for His own.
Oh! What a deliverance! What a salvation! What a consummation! What a victory! And it says that with the thousands, and thousands, and ten thousands of angels, all of us in earth shall join with all of them in heaven, singing: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, who hath redeemed us by His own blood, and made us kings and priests unto our God; and we shall reign forever and ever. Amen. Amen" [Revelation 5:9-13].
Now may we stand together? Our Lord, we also stand in amazement before our living Lord. We never saw it on that fashion either [Mark 2:12]. We never heard words like that. We never felt the love and compassion of anyone like that of the Lord Jesus. And our minds cannot even enter into the great deliverance God hath purposed and prepared for those who love Him.
And Almighty Lord, Glorious Savior, Son of God, Messiah of Israel, Prince of Glory, be Thou to us forgiveness of sin, strength for the pilgrim way, resurrection from the dead, and our hope in eternity. Without loss of one, save us, Lord, heal us, strengthen us, keep us, use and bless us.
And in this moment of quiet appeal, without anyone leaving in this time of invitation; a family you; a couple you; or just one somebody you, "Pastor, we have decided for God, and here we are." Down one of those stairways, down one of these aisles, today taking Jesus as Savior; or, today putting your life with us in this dear church, as the Spirit shall make appeal, answer with your life. Do it now, make it now, while our people pray, while we wait, and while we sing.
THE MARVEL OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Exestesan ekstasei megale – to be so amazed you are outside yourself
B. Typical reaction to Jesus (Mark 1:22, 27-28, 42, 2:12, 3:8-11, 4:41, 5:20, 42)
II. His works of wonder (Matthew 9:33)
A. What Israel had seen
B. None like Christ (Matthew 8:8, 8:23-27)
III. The words of His wisdom (John 7:46)
A. What Israel had heard
B. But never a man spake like that Man
1. The things that He said (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43)
2. The claims He made (John 10:27-30, 8:58, 11:25-26, 14:6)
a. On any other lips they sound ridiculous
b. He goes beyond any parameter, parallel or precedent (John 20:28)
IV. His heart of compassion (John 11:34-37)
A. What Israel had felt (Exodus 32:32, Ruth 1:16-17, Jeremiah 8:20-21, 9:1)
B. The compassionate sympathy of our Savior (Matthew 9:33, Mark 5:22-24)
1. Where the broken heart needs Him, there He is (Hebrews 4:15-16)
V. His mighty redemptive deliverance (Revelation 5:8-14)
A. What Israel had experienced (Esther 4:14, 9:20-32)
B. The uttermost deliverance of the Son of God
1. Deliverance now (Revelation 1:17-20, 19:4)