One interesting thing about a specific descriptive word is that the more you use it in differing settings the less its impact. “Wonderful” is a good example. A good breakfast is wonderful; if it doesn’t rain it will be a wonderful day; I had a wonderful idea about how to fix the lamp shade; etc. But when we trace the word back to its origin we find that “wonderful” means something like awesome, miraculous, astonishing, phenomenal, or astounding. So when I write that the gospel – the story of redemption – is “wonderful,” I want you to think of it more as it denoted in its original sense.
The birth of the Christ child was a wonderful event. When you reflect that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin she when she gave birth to the Son of God, yet never had sexual relations with her husband Joseph, you marvel how incredible that was. It was an event “full of wonder,” it was wonderful. As time went on, this unusual child grew and became an itinerant preacher of God’s kingdom. Wherever he went he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. These supernatural acts left the crowds filled with wonder. Again and again they are said to be astonished at what they had seen. On one occasion a demoniac who lived among the tombs and went about at night screaming and slashing himself with sharp stones, encountered Jesus, who cast multiple demons out of man and sent them into a herd of pigs who in panic rush down the slope into the sea and were drowned (Luke 8:26-39). Now that was supernatural, absolutely amazing – it was “wonderful,” filled with wonder. On another occasion a crowd of about 5,000 were listening to Jesus when suddenly he realized it was late and they were without food. What did Jesus do? He took five small loaves of bread and two little fish, multiplied them miraculously into enough food to satisfy the hunger of everyone (Mark 6:32–44). Watch as the disciples keep handing out more and more bead and the supply never runs out. Phenomenal! Truly “wonderful,” it filled the crowd with wonder – how could that possibly be?
Jesus’ three years of public ministry were replete with acts of loving-kindness. Never has there been another man who in his few years has acted so wonderfully on our behalf. But the religious authorities were threatened by his awesome life and crucified him. On the cross he looked down on the Roman guards who had crowned him with a ring of thorns, driven nails through his hands, and hoisted the cross, jeering at him in the process. In the anguish of the moment Jesus looked at his tormenters and said, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The incredible response of Jesus was beyond wonder. The gospel accounts are filled with “wonderful” things that Jesus did and said but nothing is more wonderful than what happened on a Sunday morning so long ago when the stone rolled away and Jesus who had been dead for three days walked out of the tomb.
Remember with me how absolutely mind-boggling was the life, ministry, resurrection of Jesus our Lord. It fills the believers’ heart with wonder as we read once again the wonderful story of redemption. Don’t let the fact that words lose heir impact over time rob us of how phenomenally wonderful is the Good News.