November 12, 2005


Matthew 9:1-8

When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe . . . . Matthew 9:8


Sometimes I wonder if we are losing our capacity for awe. Awe is what we experience deep inside us when something overwhelms our sense of understanding.
When something is so big, so surprising, so much greater than anything we can produce, we respond with awe.

Our story for today takes place in the small town of Capernaum in northern Galilee. Though it was a good town, it wasn’t a place where momentous things usually
happened. But in this story a paralyzed man stood up and started walking! He just stood up, picked up his mat, tucked it under his arm, and walked home. The
people had never seen anything like that before! What’s more, the man who had healed him had also said that his sins were forgiven. Imagine seeing all that with your own eyes! In their awe the crowd at Capernaum knew they were face to face with the power of God in the person of Jesus.

We see so many big things today—in science and medicine, on television, in movies with special effects— that we tend to become overloaded with powerful
impressions. When we grow used to such things, we tend to lose our sense of awe. Too bad! When that happens, we also lose our sense of God and his power, and both our faith and our worship suffer.

When was the last time you were filled with awe?

Lord of all glory, forgive us today if we have numbed our minds so that we no longer are surprised at your mighty works. Open our eyes and hearts to see you. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Howard Vanderwell

Rev. Howard Vanderwell was involved in pastoral ministry in the Christian Reformed Church for 40 years, serving as a pastor in Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. Upon retirement in 2002, he began his work at Calvin Seminary, where he helped train the ministers of the next generation. Howard and his wife, Eleanor, were married for 57 years and had three married sons and ten grandchildren.

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