“When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” Matthew 22:22
by guest contributor, Todd Hansen.
I read this yesterday, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. It has wrenched my heart and brought me to my knees. This little passage, almost an “aside” in the context, is a window into both the heart of Jesus and the heart of mankind.
The setting is the Jerusalem temple, a few days before Jesus’ final Passover. A couple of days earlier, he had prophetically ridden into town to the adulation of the crowds. A couple of days later, he would be betrayed into the hands of the Jewish authorities. In the meantime, he told lots of stories, painting a remarkable picture of the kingdom he represented.
I imagine Jesus in the temple courtyard, addressing the crowds gathered for the Passover. In his parables and preaching at this point, Jesus’ words were clear and to the point. There was a certain depth and an implied urgency to Jesus’ teaching.
No one who heard his words or looked into his eyes would have been unimpressed. For the disciples, there were layers of understanding added to what they already knew about their teacher. For the random crowds, this man would have amazed them with his wisdom and shocked them with his pointed onslaught against the temple leaders, who would have either wilted under his authority or become steeled against it. “Something greater than the temple is here, “Jesus had said earlier (Matt 12:6), and everyone in his presence would have known that was true. They marveled.
And then they went away.
How is it possible to be in the presence of God Himself and turn and walk away? How could anyone have heard and seen the Christ and not been transformed by him? To leave and go away at this point would have been to exhibit a hardness of heart that must signal an eternal finality. It’s wrenching to think that someone could see Jesus, know he is their Savior, and reject him.
But this is the natural bent of the fallen heart. Sometimes it’s outright rejection, at times ordinary disinterest. This, apart from God Himself mercifully giving me eyes to see the Truth – is the bent of my heart. It’s where I lived before he rescued me, and this brings me to my knees in gratitude. The Marvelous Messiah of these passages is the Exclusive Author of my salvation.
DO THIS TODAY: Read Psalm 118, and say with me, “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes!” Marvel – and stay.