Astonishment is an emotion that modern Americans have very mixed feelings about. We’re mostly quite comfortable about other people’s astonishment. We’re generally less comfortable with feeling astonishment ourselves. I don’t mean simple amazement at some entertaining stunt making the rounds of the internet.
The kind of astonishment that I’m referring to here is the feeling people have when they experience something that challenges their understanding of the way the world is. We like to be complacent and secure, confident that we know pretty well how the world works. We don’t generally like having our complacency and security challenged. God seems to delight in upsetting our false security and confidence. Astonishment is what people feel when God crowds into their lives and upsets their easy conception of how things are.
Astonishment is at the heart of the healing of this lame man in the temple gate by ordinary, everyday sorts of men. At first the astonishment of the crowd is focused on the fact that a well-known man, whom no one doubted was and had been certainly unable to walk was suddenly jumping and dancing around in the temple courts. This reaction was simple amazement at a very uncommon event. But then those two ordinary men began to explain to the crowd what had just taken place and how it was Jesus of Nazareth actually produced the healing. “Yes, that Jesus of Nazareth, the one you all crucified. He’s the one who has done this miracle, because he’s not dead, but he has risen from the grave.”
Well, I suspect that a very uneasy astonishment began to spin the heads of many in that crowd that day. Where does it all lead?
Below, you’ll find two versions of the sermon that I preached on October 20, 2013 at the Venice Presbyterian Church in Cecil Township, Pennsylvania. At this church, I preach at two services each Sunday morning. Since I do not preach from a manuscript or even typically from any detailed notes or outline, the two versions of the sermon can turn out to be quite different. Each of the two sermons on this passage brought out different elements of the passage, and I couldn’t decide which to post. So, I’ve just posted both. You can listen to one or the other or both.
©2013 Gary A. Chorpenning; all rights reserved.
- Sermon #49 – “Then, Now, & Forever: Better Than Gold” (gachorpenning.wordpress.com)