Oct. 9,2007; Part 1 of TBD

Focus Text: Mark 11.15-18

Three well know verses are used to introduce this subject; they are: “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7.28-29). “So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’” (Luke 4.22). “Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!’” (John 7.45-46).

At times of great surprise, old country folks used to say, “You coulda’ knocked ‘em over with a feather!” That saying somewhat epitomizes the reaction of many people to the teaching methods and teachings of Jesus. Had we been with Him during His earthly ministry, we would have seen and heard many things that would have surprised us; I know that is the case because those who companied with Him, even His own disciples, were frequently shocked at what they saw and heard. For example, consider the following: “Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, ‘Who then can be saved?’” (Mark 10.23-26).

I think it would have been appropriate for someone to have said concerning the example just cited, “You coulda’ knocked ‘em over with a feather!” The King James version says “… they were astonished out of measure.” The Revised Standard Version simply says, “They were exceedingly astonished.” The point should be quite obvious; something about what Jesus said or the way that He said it caught even His closest friends by surprise. This was certainly not the only time something like this happened. In fact, the gospel accounts are literally filled with events such as this when His followers were caught completely off guard by His teaching and/or His teachings.

One more well known example will serve to further support this point: “So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”’ And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.” (Mark 11.15-18).

WWJD? I fear that most people hardly know the answer to that question, especially those who do not read or do not believe the accounts of the Bible. I know one thing, He didn’t do what people expected then, and it is highly unlikely that He would do the expected today! (continued)

Questions:

1. Why were His hearers astonished at the Sermon on the Mount?

2. Why were the disciples surprised when He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”? What was a popular notion about riches and righteousness? Does that misunderstanding still persist?

3. What events and or sayings do you think were surprising when He cleansed the temple?

4. Why did we conclude that Jesus might not do the expected were He on earth today? What does that have to do with the popular acronym question, WWJD?