Although the word “marvelous” is broadly used to describe a number of things that are a bit giddy (a marvelous Broadway show, a marvelous dinner, etc.) its basic meaning is “something that causes wonder, admiration, or astonishment.” In that more reserved sense we can certainly say that the life and teachings of Jesus were marvelous. The gospel account of Jesus tells us that he was born of a virgin. From a normal perspective that is highly improbable if not incredible. He healed the sick, restored sight for the blind, and even raised some from the dead. Each instance is a marvel. Perhaps the most marvelous of all was his resurrection and return to heaven.
The Greek thaumadzo occurs 30 times in gospels. Men marveled when at Jesus’ command an angry sea subsided (Matt. 8:27), when a demon was driven out of a mute (Luke 11:14), when a fig tree withered at his command (Matt. 21:20). That kind of extraordinary power was most unusual to say the least. Not only was so much of his healing ministry totally outside of what we consider normal, but his teaching was “marvelous” as well. How unusual is the advice that if you want to save your life you must lose it first (Mark 8:35), or that to be persecuted for doing what is right is a blessing (Matt. 5:11). Scores of similar passages could be cited. What Jesus taught was marvelous because it was “out of this world” in terms of conventional thinking.
Another way in which we can describe the message of Jesus as marvelous is what happens whenever it is proclaimed. Lives are dramatically changed, the discouraged renew their zest for living, the lonely find a rewarding friendship. I believe that each of us can attest to more than one life that has been wonderfully renewed by the power at work in the gospel. These are marvelous events; they defy the ordinary. Let’s pause and reflect on how, for the past two thousand years, the gospel message continues to bring new life to those who believe. Ultimately what the Christian values the most are those issues that deal with the spirit. The work of God’s Spirit in bringing about our spiritual rebirth is truly marvelous.