When Jesus and His disciples came to Nazareth (Mark 6) the people were astonished at the wisdom of His words and what they had heard about Him healing the sick and cripples, driving out demons and even bringing dead people back to life. Yet they would not believe. After all, they had known His family. Familiarity breeds contempt and a prophet is not without honour, except amongst those who think they know him. We read that Jesus “marvelled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:6). He marvelled that despite so much evidence of God’s work in their midst, they refused to believe.
We too, now that our eyes have been opened, marvel at people’s unbelief. The universe is before us as a most elegant book in which all creatures are as so many letters leading us to see the greatness of our God (Rom. 1; BCF 2). Daily we see God’s handiwork. The sun, unrefuelled, continues to radiate light and warmth day after day. The dawn of each new day reveals God’s wisdom and power in the birds and insects, the animals and fish, the flowers and trees, the landscapes and sea, the myriad stars and so much more. We marvel at the beauty of a turquoise sea kissing a sundrenched beach, listen in admiration at the harmonic sounds of a concert and the carolling of magpies; we delight in the scent of roses and new-mown grass; we feel the warmth of the sun, the chill of the wind, the rain in our face. There is so much to marvel in what God displays; so much for which to glorify Him from day to day. Trouble is: we, sinful people, so often forget to marvel. Our senses become dulled by familiarity. That which is so amazing we soon find so ordinary. Failing to be astonished, we forget to stand amazed at the majesty of God, to be awed by the grandeur of His creation. Father, forgive us our failure to stand amazed, to hallow Your name, to glorify You daily for what you reveal about yourself in the creation and preservation of this amazing universe.
Even more grandiose to marvel at daily, even more exquisite than the beauty of creation, is the beauty of God we behold from His Word. It is to see, through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, His electing love for us in Jesus Christ; to see and accept salvation and, through Christ’s atonement, to enjoy the favour of God; to understand that, having turned our backs to God by following Satan’s allurement and plunging ourselves into sin and the acutest misery, we now receive complete forgiveness. We marvel at God’s willingness to reconcile us to Him, at the covenant He was willing to establish with us whereby we again become His children and He our Father. We marvel that He, being perfectly good and just, sacrificed His own well-beloved Son to redeem us. One historian called crucifixion the most terrible and cruel death invented by man. Yet Christ—who understood perfectly that beyond the excruciating pain, the humiliating mockery, the righteous rejection by God which we deserved—was God’s righteous judgement upon our sins was nevertheless willing to endure all this and so much more for our sakes. Suspended on a cross to symbolise that He was rejected by both heaven and earth He endured indescribable anguish and pain to purchase us, bearing the heavy curse that lay on us because of our sins. Instead of the eternal hell that awaited us, He has given everlasting life. Instead of being shunned by God we now live in fellowship with Him forever as the objects of His love and grace. The meaninglessness of a hopeless, godless existence has been translated into a meaningful, godly life through the Spirit He has given us. That, above all, is reason to marvel.
Yes, renewed by the Spirit, we marvel at this wonderful creation. And we marvel all the more at God’s mercy in Jesus Christ our Lord. We want to give Him the glory. Oh LORD, open my eyes and ears, lest my ears become dulled with hearing and my eyes become insensitive to seeing; lest I devalue that which is inexpressively marvellous by considering it ordinary and forget to marvel at it continually.