Wondering about the wonder of God is always worthwhile.
The first chapter of the book of Genesis provides a succinct beginning for marveling at the Almighty as he intricately weaves something out of nothing. In Genesis 1:1-2, the author writes,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Note the bleak descriptors before God acts. Formless. Emptiness. Darkness. In the midst of this void, however, the Holy Spirit is hovering above the waters, waiting for I AM to speak and paint a vibrant tapestry of totality with his awesome hands.
The Wonder of Glory
Though the earth and its fullness thereof is a glorious sight to behold, it simply points back to the Creator: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge,” says David in Psalm 19. We believe that the universe reflects the glory of God, but what exactly is this glory that stirs up a sense of wonder inside the soul?
Dr. John Piper provides a glimpse from a 2006 sermon, employing Isaiah 6:3 as a scriptural springboard.
Intrinsically holy, intrinsically holy, and the whole earth is full of his glory from which I stab at a definition by saying the glory of God is the manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going public of his holiness. It is the way he puts his holiness on display for people to apprehend. So the glory of God is the holiness of God made manifest.
The Wonder of the Word
According to Dr. Piper, the glory of God is his holiness put on display. Therefore, holiness made manifest is also found in his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the display of God’s holiness in human form. The author John describes Jesus as the Word, and he eloquently brings us back to the first chapter of Genesis with a simple but staggering description of the Trinity:
In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)
The baptism of Jesus, performed by John the Baptist in the Jordan River before beginning his ministry, is yet another instance of wonder. John, who once said that he was “unworthy to carry the sandals of Jesus,” resisted the Son’s request to baptize him. John stood in sheer awe of a Savior who would ask him to carry out such a significant sacrament.
After John consented to Jesus’ request and baptized him, the skies opened and the Trinity was displayed – Father, Spirit, Son – through the audible voice of God and a dove.
At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
John the Baptist marveled at the wonder of Jesus, much like the disciples did when Jesus called them to leave their vocations and follow him. This was the carpenter from Nazareth who raised the dead, healed the sick, and repeatedly declared the nearness of the kingdom of God. The Son of God, who was immersed in water to symbolize what he would do for humanity by dying on a lonely cross, also walked across it.
The Wonder of Authority
In what may be one of the most compelling stories in the Bible, Jesus summoned his friend Peter to walk with him on top of the water. We can only visualize the scene in our minds, but you can imagine the disciples exchanging looks of wonder and bewilderment at the sight unfolding before them on the choppy sea.
After catching Peter as he began to doubt and subsequently sink, Jesus stepped into the boat and the wind swiftly diminished. “Truly you are the Son of God,” said the disciples (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus, who is fully God, has complete authority over the seas.
David echoes the proclamation of the disciples in Psalm 24, writing, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for he laid its foundation on the seas and established it upon the rivers” (vv. 1-2). David, penning his prayers many years before John did his Gospel, also alluded to the wonder of God’s mighty sovereignty in Genesis 1.
Stop and Stare
Indeed, there are numerous instances of wonder in the Scriptures. The creation narrative. God delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians through supernatural “signs and wonders” (Deuteronomy 7:19). The mighty walls of Jericho crumbling to the ground (Joshua 6). David slaying the godless giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Elijah being carried away to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2).
For followers of Christ, wonder begins and ends with Jesus, for the entire story of the Bible points to his life, death, and resurrection. No one else in history inspires awe like he did and does. He walked on water. He restored the sick. He taught us how to love others by demonstrating the most excellent way, voluntary sacrifice for the undeserving.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life, only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18)
How do we respond to a wonder like this, to the immeasurable love of a kind, gentle, merciful Savior? In the words of John Piper,
Christ is our life—not only the guarantee of it in heaven, but the down payment of it by the Spirit now, as he lives in us. His joy our joy, his love our love, his peace our peace, his strength our strength. These are not gifts moving from him to us. They are his life experienced as our life.
Marvel at the wonder of it all.
Marvel at the One who made it all. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
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