The Marvel of Jesus
December 16th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM
THE MARVEL OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-16-90 10:50 a.m.
And this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Marvel of Jesus. In our preaching through the Gospel of [Mark], we have come to the concluding and climactic verse of the fifth chapter of Mark, preaching through the Gospel of Mark, coming to chapter 5, and verse 42, "And they were astonished with a great astonishment."
When I read that to you in Greek, the words are in our English language: exestēsan ekstasei megalē. We took it bodily in our English language, "ecstasy." The Greek is to be so amazed and overwhelmed you are outside yourself. Literally, you are standing beyond yourself. And megalē, of course, mega, great, "They were astonished with a great astonishment" [Mark 5:42].
When I look through this Gospel of Mark, my impression, just looking at it, a presentation of our Lord that is miraculously marvelous. For example:
· In chapter 1, verse 22, "They were astonished at His doctrine" [Mark 1:22].
· In that same first chapter, "They were all amazed" [Mark 1:27].
· And in that same chapter, verse 28, "And immediately His fame spread abroad" [Mark 1:28].
· I turn the page into the next chapter, verse 12, "They were all amazed, and glorified God" [Mark 2:12].
· I turn to chapter 3, verse 10, "They pressed upon Him for just to touch Him" [Mark 3:10].
· I turn to chapter 4 and verse 41, "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" [Mark 4:41].
· And in the next chapter, chapter 5, verse 20, "And all men did marvel" [Mark 5:20].
· And in this climactic verse, "They were astonished with a great astonishment" [Mark 5:42], ekstasei megalē.
The impression you have of our Lord is one of amazing parameters.
So the marvel of Jesus; first, the marvel of His wondrous works. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Matthew, "And the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel" [Matthew 9:33]. Our people, the destiny and the life of our nation never beheld anything as gloriously wonderful as this. It was never so seen in Israel.
· Think of what Israel had seen, Moses and the ten plagues [Exodus 7:14-12:30], one of which was turning the waters of the Nile into blood [Exodus 7:14-14-25].
· Think of what Israel had seen: Moses striking the solid rock in the Sinaitic Desert and water gushing out [Exodus 17:6].
· Think of what Israel had seen in the days of the judges: the exploits of Gideon [Judges 6:11- 8:32] and of Samson [Judges 13:1-16:31].
· Think of what Israel had seen: the unbelievable miracles of Elijah, calling fire down from heaven [1 Kings 18:24, 36-39].
· Or Elisha raising from the dead the son of the mother in Shunem [2 Kings 4:8-37].
Think of what Israel had seen; but nothing comparable to the glorious works, the wondrous works of Jesus our Lord [Matthew 9:33].
For example, a Gentile, not a Jewish member of the race, a Gentile sent word to the Lord Jesus by his servant [Luke 7:3]. It was the centurion who governed the nation and said to the Lord Jesus, "I am not worthy that You come under my roof: my servant is sick: just speak the word, and my servant will be healed" [Matthew 8:8]. Think of the miracle of that: Jesus here, and that servant sick there. And Jesus speaks the word here, and the servant is healed there [Matthew 8:13]. Or think of that miracle when the wind and the waves threaten the very life of those apostles, and the Lord stilled the storm with just a word, and the winds and the waves obeyed Him! [Matthew 8:23-27]. Not an atom of matter could move except by the permissive divine fiat; the marvel of Jesus, the wonder of His works.
The marvel of Jesus; the words of His wisdom. In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of John, the rulers of the synagogue send their officers to arrest Him [John 7:32], and they came back empty-handed. And the Pharisees said unto them, "Why have you not brought Him?" And the officers answered, "Never a man spake like that Man" [John 7:45-46].
The wonder of His wisdom and His words, the marvel of Jesus; it was never so heard in Israel [John 7:46].
· Think of what Israel had heard: the incomparable messages of Moses on the plains of Moab, written for us in the Book of Deuteronomy.
· Think of what Israel had heard: David singing his psalms.
· Think of what Israel had heard: Solomon speaking forth his proverbs. Think of what Israel had heard: the incomparable Isaiah the prophet, speaking those marvelous words of glory and wonder.
But never a man spake like that Man [John 7:46]: the marvel of Jesus. They were astonished at Him because He did not speak as the scribes, but as one having authority [Matthew 7:28-29]. Our Lord said, for example, "You have heard it said, Thou shalt not kill [Matthew 5:21]. But I say unto you, Whosoever is angry with his brother . . . is in danger of the judgment" [Matthew 5:22]. And again, "You have heard it said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth [Matthew 5:38]. But I say unto you, whosoever is angry with his brother is not only in danger of the judgment [Matthew 5:22], but he is not a child of God" [Matthew 5:22], for we are not to oppose unrighteous and evil men" [Psalm 37:1]. "And if you are smitten on your right cheek, turn your left cheek" [Matthew 5:39]. "And you have heard it said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies . . . and pray for them who despitefully use you and abuse you" [Matthew 5:43-44]. Never a man spake like that Man [John 7:46].
And the way that He spoke of Himself, beyond thinking. In the tenth chapter of John, He said:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
And 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.
Or turn to the next chapter, chapter 11, "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, ever die" [John 11:25-26]. Or turn the page to the fourteenth chapter, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." You know, the Greek of that is the most emphatic sentence you could think for. Ego eimi, "I am," hē hodos kai hē alētheia kai hē zoē, ‘the way." "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" [John 14:6].
Sweet people, put those words on the lips of any of the great men of the earth, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill. Put them on the lips of anybody in this earth who has ever lived, and they would sound ridiculous and inane. But when He speaks them, "Never a man spoke like that Man" [John 7:46].
You know, the Lord will be just as any other gentle man, compassionate, loving, ministering, you know, just like any other man. Then suddenly, suddenly, He goes beyond any parameter or any parallel or any precedent, or any precedent, and He stands before us, and if one looking at Him exclaims, "My Lord and my God!" [John 20:28], you feel nothing amiss; you just feel he has spoken for us all. He is the great dissimilar and the great unlike; not one in many, but many in one. Never a man like that Man, the marvel of Jesus.
May I speak, again, not only His wondrous works, and not only His words of wisdom, but also His heart of loving compassion? "It was never so seen in Israel" [Matthew 9:33]. Think of what Israel had seen in loving compassion, in heavenly intercession. For example, when the people were dancing naked around the golden calf [Exodus 32:19, 25], and God looked down from heaven and said to Moses, "You stand aside; you step aside and let My fury and wrath burn up this nation, destroy these people. And out of your loins I will raise up a people who will honor Me and do My will" [Exodus 32:7-10]. And Moses stood yet before the Lord and said, "O Lord God, if Thou will forgive this people"; – and in the King James Version there is a long, black, dark dash. And he never finished the sentence; he just added, "And if not, blot me . . . out of the book which Thou hast written" [Exodus 32:32]. "If they cannot be saved, I do not want to be saved, and if they are not delivered, do not deliver me," the heart of compassion.
Think of what Israel had heard and seen. Ruth, speaking to her mother-in-law:
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:
And where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried: God do so and more unto me, if aught but death separate between me and thee.
Think of what Israel had heard. Think of what Israel had heard: the eulogy of David over Jonathan [2 Samuel 1:17, 25-27], or the lament of Jeremiah over the destruction of his nation and his city.
The harvest is past, and the summer has ended, and we are not saved.
For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt. Grief has overwhelmed me.
Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
[Jeremiah 8:20-21; 9:1]
Think of what Israel had heard. But there was no one like Him. Here in the eleventh chapter of the Book of John, "Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him!" [John 11:35-36]; the compassionate heart of our Savior, the marvel of Jesus.
Here in the story, in the fifth chapter of Mark, Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, [comes] to the Lord Jesus, saying, "Come, my little twelve year old girl is sick unto death. Come and lay Thy hands upon her, she will be well; she will be healed." Why not anyone’s hands, just His? "You come and lay Your hands upon her, and she will be healed" [Mark 5:23]. You know, that is unusual. I stood one day by the dying bedside of an old man. And whether he was delirious or not, I don’t know; he just cried out, saying, "Oh, my mother, my mother, if she could just lay her hands of comfort and healing upon me, my mother." That ruler said to the Lord Jesus, "Come and lay Thy hands upon my little girl, and she will be healed." The compassionate love of our Savior, and the story follows; Jesus is following after, just like a servant, following after, going to the home of Jairus [Mark 5:24]. You put it down and you remember it forever: wherever there is need, and wherever there is a broken heart, there you will find our Lord. You will find Him.
"Now, pastor," someone says, "in an hour of need I asked for Him, and there was no reply, and there was no presence, and there was no answer."
And I ask you my friend, "How did you ask Him? Did you ask Him in doubt and in unbelief? Or did you ask Him in intellectual superiority? Or did you ask Him as though you were putting Him on trial?"
You see, our Lord honors him whose eyes are on the dust, whose hand is on his heart, and whose prayers are a sob: "O God, remember me." Sweet people, I have never seen yet the Lord crown the brow of him who is proud and arrogant and self-sufficient. I have been present at a thousand coronations where the Lord has circled the brow of someone crushed and broken-hearted with the very diadem of heaven. Our compassionate and loving Lord; no man like that Man [John 7:46]. It was never so seen in Israel [Matthew 9:38]; the marvel of Jesus.
I have one other: the marvel of Jesus in His redemptive, glorious, triumphant power, our Savior. I am going to read the last half of the fifth chapter of the Revelation.
When He, our Lord, had taken the book, the four cherubim and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having everyone of them harps, and golden vials . . . of the prayers of the saints.
And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the cherubim and the elders: and the number of them was muriadēs muriadōn, ten thousand times ten thousands, and thousands of thousands:
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain . . . .
And every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, and all thereof, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.
And the four cherubim said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth forever and ever.
O God! The marvel of Jesus, "It was never so seen in Israel" [Matthew 9:33]. Israel had experienced deliverance at the Red Sea [Exodus 14:1-31]. Israel had experienced deliverance from the armies of Amalek [Exodus 17:8-13]. Israel had experienced the deliverance of God when Sennacherib, having destroyed the kingdom of Israel, came down to the kingdom of Judah and shut up Jerusalem like a vise [2 Chronicles 32:1, 9-10]. And the Lord sent His angel in answer to the prayer of Hezekiah, the godly king. And one hundred eighty-five thousand of the Assyrian soldiers were dead [2 Kings 18:13-19:13]. Oh, the mighty deliverances Israel had experienced! Or take once again, we are in Hanukkah now. It will soon be followed by Purim. Purim celebrates the deliverance of Israel from the hatred of Haman in the days of Esther the queen [Esther 8:1-9:32]. Israel had experienced mighty deliverances at the hand of God. But there is no deliverance like this one promised to the people of the Lord in this coming and triumphant day [John 10:27-30].
The marvel of Jesus, none like Him in the heaven or in earth. May I speak briefly of that deliverance in two ways? One is now, the deliverance of our Lord Jesus for us now.
And I saw and, behold, one like the Son of Man standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands . . . .
His face was as the sun shineth in his strength.
[Revelation 1:12-13, 16]
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as one dead. And He put His right hand upon me saying, Fear not . . .
I am He that liveth, and was dead: and, behold, I am alive for evermore. And I, I have the keys of Hell and of Death.
I am not to fear. Whatever the providences of life, whatever the age, whatever the grave, He is King and Lord over all, and my Savior, and my hope, my Lord now.
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Could my tears forever flow,
Could my zeal no respite know,
These for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
["Rock of Ages" by Augustus M. Toplady]
My victory over death and the grave is my hope in Jesus my Lord [1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Revelation2 2:20]. "And the four and twenty elders and the four cherubim said, Amen" [Revelation 19:4].
And one other, the great and ultimate victory that lies before us is in the purview, and in the keeping, and in the hands of our marvelous and wonderful Lord. As every syllable of history in these centuries past moved toward His incarnation and His cross, so every syllable of history today moves toward His coronation and His crown [1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 10:13], the victory God hath purposed for our Lord and His people [Romans 8:37].
You know, I was so surprised. In preparing this message today, I came across a poem hymn by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley, written two hundred fifty years ago. And the amazing thing was at Christmas time, thinking of the coming of the little Babe in Bethlehem [Matthew 1:20-2:1; Luke 2:10-16], he links it, joins it to the great triumphant Christ in which all of us one day shall gloriously share.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our sins and fears release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Thou Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
["Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus," by Charles Wesley]
The little Babe born in a manger [Luke 2:16] is to be our King and Lord [Revelation 12:5], to raise us up to the very throne of God [Revelation 22:3-5]. What a glorious gospel and an incomparable hope, the marvel of Jesus, our great Redeemer [1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9].
And to the throngs of people in this sanctuary, as we sing this hymn of appeal, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, "Pastor, I have decided for God today and here I stand." Come and welcome, while we stand 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. Gospel of Mark a presentation of our Lord that is miraculously marvelous (Mark 1:22, 27-28, 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, 8:27)
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, 11:25-26, 14:6)
a. On any other lips they sound ridiculous
b. He goes beyond any parameter, parallel or precedent
IV. His heart of compassion (John 11:35-36)
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 (Mark 5:23-24)
1. Where the broken heart needs Him, there He is
V. His mighty redemptive deliverance (Revelation 5:8-14)
A. What Israel had experienced
B. The uttermost deliverance of the Son of God
1. Deliverance now (Revelation 1:17-20, 19:4)