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I. Jesus, Master of Surprise
A. Jesus was, from beginning to end, a fountain of surprises.
B. There are very few things about him, few things He said or did which we NOT surprising.
C. A man is born to die. He is both God and man. He is God but He has a mother, and He is a man but has no human father. A baby who created His own mother.
D. He surprised people by the way He was born.
1. The story of the birth of Jesus is pregnant with surprises. Strange things keep happening.
a. Angels appearing to people in very startling ways, an old barren woman getting pregnant, her husband unable to talk during the period of her pregnancy, a virgin getting pregnant, a baby leaping for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, enters the room,
b. The heavens opening up and thousands of angels seen praising God, before a bunch of dirty old shepherds in the middle of the night, the King of Kings laid in an animal feeding trough.
2. As might be expected, when these things keep happening, it leaves a lot of dazzled people standing there in amazement.
a. When the angel spoke to Mary, Luke.1:29 says, “But Mary was greatly troubled at the angel's statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be.”
b. When the shepherds spread the news of what they had seen, Luke 2:18-19 says, “And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
c. And after Simeon blessed the baby Jesus in the temple, Luke 2:33 says, “And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.”
E. He surprised people by what He said.
1. Right after Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount, the Bible tells us “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching.” (Matt.7:28)
2. Luke 4:22 “And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips.” (Cf. John 7:15)
F. He surprised people by the miracles He performed.
1. Matt.15:31 “The crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.”
2. Matt.9:33 After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
3. After healing a man who was deaf and dumb, Mark 7: 37 tells us that the people “were utterly astonished, saying, ‘He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’”
4. After healing the paralytic, we are told in Matt.9:8 that “when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
G. He surprised people by who He spent time with: Disciples, women.
H. He surprised people by who He was kind to: sinners.
I. He surprised people by what and who He got angry at: the “righteous.”
J. He smashed people’s expectations.
1. Luke 7:19-35 John sent two of his disciples to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” 23 “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” 24 When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John..., 31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
K. He surprised people by things that happened to Him: the transfiguration, etc.
L. He surprised people by the cross: the greatest surprise of all.
M. Think about how everyone was so surprised by the resurrection – even though Jesus had said repeatedly that it was going to happen.
1. Luke 24:13ff. – the road to Emmaus
a. The Redeemer has come!
b. The Redeemer is dead!
c. Some women say they saw an angel who told them He was alive again!
d. Some of us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said!
e. The Scriptures tell us all these things about the Christ!
f. This is Jesus!
g. Now He’s gone!
h. Peter saw Him too!
i. Here is Jesus Himself!
N. The ascension
O. The salvation of the chief of sinners
II. Why does God surprise us?
A. Part of it is that He wants to teach us that we can’t put Him in a box.
1. The Lion of Judah is not a tame lion.
2. Our yardsticks are crooked!
3. We have to let God be God. We can’t expect everything He does to make sense to us.
B. He is amazing.
1. When Gabriel tells Mary about how the Holy Spirit is going to come upon her and she is going to give birth to a son named Jesus who will be called the Son of God, he ends by saying, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
2. This is one of God’s favorite things to say, it would seem. He loves to amaze us. He loves to display His glory and power to us. And God loves to hear us say, “Nothing is impossible with God.” He loves for us to live in wonder, to be constantly mindful that, though I can’t see Him, there is a very big God Who is very close.
3. The surprise continues. The wonder of those who come to know Him continues. That's exactly how God planned it. It’s supposed to amaze us! God wants us startled by His wonders. When we stand in awe with our mouths open, God has us exactly where He wants us.
4. The Christian message is called “good news” after all.
5. God doesn't want us to figure Him out, He wants us to worship Him.
C. Part of it is because He wants to show us His love.
1. I love surprises.
2. Surprise party at Donna Cassells
D. (BTW, the greatest surprises are still to come.)
1. The end of history has us with eyes and mouths gaping open.
E. Of course this doesn’t mean that all surprise is good.
1. There is a time when it is wrong to be surprised.
a. 1John 3:13 “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”
b. 1Pet.4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”
2. We need to be surprised by the right things.
a. RC Sproul: The locus of astonishment
F. The fact is that we’re not surprised enough at the things which should astound us.
1. How many times are we actually bored at His teaching?
2. It is so easy for us to grow so accustomed to these things. And once we're accustomed, they seem to lose their glow and their wonder. And so instead of being astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, we have problems even staying awake and paying attention.
a. Marianna with a diaper on her head.
3. If we grasped who He really was, if we really understood what He did, we would be left breathless.
4. This appplies especially to those who have grown up in Christian homes. They have had the privilege of hearing these things from the very start, things which many of us didn't hear until we were mostly grown up. But there is also more of a temptation for you to be bored with them precisely because you have always heard them. These things seem ordinary because they are so used to them.
5. Often immigrants cherish this country more than those who have been here for generations. They love the freedom. They don't complain. They work hard and are thankful for their pay. But those who grew up here don't realize what they have. Because they’ve never gone without it. So, they tend to complain a lot. And they demand a lot and don't want to do much to get it.
6. Stay alert
a. All the Bible verses on being alert (e.g. Mk.13:37; Lk.12:37; Lk.21:36; Ac.20:31; 1Cor.16:13; Eph.6:18; Col.4:2; 1Thes.5:6; 1Pet.5:8).
b. We have no good English word for the opposite of being alert, but these verses make it clear that unalertness is a great danger, and something we are very prone to, that there is a certain dullness, numbness, intoxication, grogginess, spaced-out-ness that comes over us.
c. If we are fully aware, we will be gripped by the reality of God.
d. So easily we forget about God. So easily we grow sleepy in the allusion that He is predictable.
G. We need to become masters of surprise too.
1. It means we need to live lives that are surprising to the world.
a. “Always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” This implies they are surprised by your hope.
2. The more we blend in with everyone else the less witness we are going to have.
a. The more we’re surprisingly hopeful, loving, patient, generous, the more witness we have.
b. Mr. K – the surprising way he has spent his time and money
3. I’m not talking about being different for the sake of being different – then you have become predictable. If you always downbeat when the others upbeat, you are still being led by men.
a. Sometimes we will surprise by agreeing with our enemies – as when Jesus agreed with the Pharisees.