Marvelling at Christ

“Then Pilate said to him, ‘Don’t you hear all of the things of which they are accusing you?’ Yet, he gave no answer to him, not even to one word, to the point that the Governor was quite amazed.”

(Matthew 27:13-14)

“And Pilate again asked him, saying, ‘Will you not answer? Look how many charges are against you!’ But Jesus gave no further reply to the point that Pilate was amazed.”

(Mark 15:4-5)

Here we see at least some depth to Pilate’s character. He knows that he has been cornered by the Jewish authorities, but at the same time he has no intention of being their puppet. He wants some sort of defense from Jesus so that he has something with which to work. We will see this move by Pilate several times in this trial and it should not be confused with care for Jesus, but simply seen as a way for Pilate to get this man’s blood off of his conscience and to keep the Jewish officials from running roughshod over him.

Yet, Pilate is amazed at Jesus’ silence. It is interesting to ponder the source of Pilate’s amazement. Often it is understood as Pilate just being astonished or confused that here is a man being accused of something that will possibly put him to death and he won’t answer the charges. Yet, the amazement can be understood in other ways as well. The term qauma/zw (thaumazo) is broad enough that it could refer to Pilate’s own frustration with the situation itself — essentially a sense of amazement that he has been dragged into this mess. At the same time, qauma/zw (thaumazo) is most commonly used to describe people’s reactions in the midst of God’s divine work, so the amazement could also be interpreted as a shudder at whose presence he happens to be in, though this is less likely given Pilate’s treatment of Jesus before him.

Yet, it raises the question for us as to how we respond to God himself. Are we amazed (in the divine sense) at the work of Jesus in our own midst? Do we enter into prayer and worship with reverence and when we do enter into prayer and worship, do we actually expect to find God there? Do we pray in confidence that we are speaking to a God who hears our prayers or do we just drop words into space out of habit? Loved ones, my prayer for you is that this idea of qauma/zw (thaumazo) would capture your spirit and your life as you approach God — not just in the big things, but also in the mundane things of life.

I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene,

And wonder how He could love me,

A sinner, condemned, unclean.

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!

And my song shall ever be:

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!

Is my Savior’s love for me!

— Charles Gabriel

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