Astonished, afraid, and amazed are all terms used to describe those who encountered Jesus in our study of Mark 1:21-34. Each of these responses were to the authority of Jesus. Those who heard His teaching were astonished that Jesus' was superior to the scribes whose whole life was committed to copying down the Scripture. Jesus presented the truths of God with such intimate knowledge that it was evident that He was no common circuit preacher.
Then the spiritual forces of evil were afraid of Jesus. Their run in with the "Holy One of God" revealed their knowledge of the power He was able to exert over their beings. "Have you come to destroy us?" Even when the disciples were given the authority to cast out demons, they did not have the power to destroy the evil spirits. This power is solely held by God, and the demon's testimony reminds us that "the fullness of God was pleased to dwell" in Jesus (Col. 1:19) and they knew and trembled.
Finally those who witnessed the demonic confrontation and victory by Jesus were amazed that this teaching was backed up with such authority. Interestingly we are not sure that the results of these responses ever resulted in true belief. It might be safe to say the disciples were just beginning to see who this teacher, prophet, miracle worker, Son of God truly was. Their own belief shifts like sand until the resurrection cements solidly in their souls a firmness that enables them to endure extreme persecution.
For me I begin to wonder how often I stand astonished or amazed at Jesus... It reminds me how easily distracted I can be by the mediocrity of human creation. The latest movie or TV show can captivate my mind and be center of my discussions. Much like last week our awe of Christ is highly based on our proximity to Him. It's easy to be awed by that which we are standing closest to or spend the most time with. The trouble is that closer to the world we live to farther we live from the light of Christ. True, I know that Christ does not desire us to fear being destroyed but maybe a little reminder once and while of the extent of Christ's authority is not such a bad thing. Christ is the righteous judge thankfully in His first incarnation He did not come to condemn the World but to save it. But let us not take Jesus' grace for granted. The challenge this week is to pick up the Gospel more. Maybe it's only two more times than normal. Create a new normal that increases the opportunity to be closer to Christ. See how it might change our lives and the lives of those around us.