Can Anyone Surprise Jesus ?
When Jesus, the Son of God, walked this earth how much did he know about what was happening in the world and what was about to happen? Clearly there is nothing unknown to him now in heaven. He knows every thought and action of men, and he knows everything they will think and do in the future. Nothing can surprise Almighty God. But when he walked on earth it seems that there were a few events that did surprise him. As the redeeming Messiah he warned the Apostles many times that he would be crucified, but they did not understand. As the two going to Emmaus said, "they crucified him; but we hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel." They were disappointed, devastated by the unexpected events. But Jesus never was; he knew the cost of redemption, and paid it in full.
But 2,000 years ago one man and three women did surprise him:
1. The Roman Centurion
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralysed and in terrible suffering." Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him." The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. Math 85-10
Jesus was 'astonished' by a foreign soldier.
A soldier who knew that Jesus had authority in the realm of healing; who could just speak the word and it was done. He had after all spoken the word and created the world, the whole universe, every sub-atomic particle, every soul that has lived on earth. He had designed it all with extraordinary care and skill. So why should healing be a problem to Jesus? The Centurion may not have known about creation, but he certainly knew the authority of Jesus to heal. His 'great faith' surprised Jesus; and delighted him.
2. The Canaanite Mother
A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Math 1522-28
Another foreigner. A determined mother. She wasn't demanding 'her rights', but in humility and love pleaded to a foreign Jew for her daughter. She correctly diagnosed her child's problem, 'demon-possession'. She was not concerned about the niceties of religion. Her only objective was to receive help for her daughter, and she knew Jesus was the one man who could do so. She was right. Jesus was delighted and surprised by her quick reply. He commended her 'great faith'.
There were a number of occasions when Jesus was directed by his Father to go to a particular place for a special purpose. On arriving at Nain He was not surprised to meet a funeral procession. When he crossed Galilee to go to Gadarene he was not surprised to meet two demoniacs. When he went up to the region of Tyre he knew he would meet a Canaanite woman. But her quick-witted determination and her rare faith were a thrill to him.
3. The Anointing by Mary
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." Math 266-13
Jesus was invited to a meal with Simon, a healed leper and a Pharisee. He went. (Lu 736)
The surprise came when a woman appeared. She was weeping and washed his feet with her tears (Simon had neglected to do so), and anointed his feet lavishly with the most expensive perfume. To say that Simon was embarrassed is an understatement; but Jesus wasn't. Even the disciples weren't too happy; they criticised her for the waste. Why did Jesus say this surprising, beautiful event would never be forgotten? She had been a sinful woman who had repented and was expressing her love and gratitude to Jesus for his forgiveness. This was the true gospel in action. And Jesus was delighted. No one, not even Jesus, expected such a beautiful demonstration when he accepted Simon's invitation.
4. A Widow's Offering
Jesus and his disciples were resting in the Temple court.
As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Lu 211-4
The widow is not named in scripture; but no doubt she is named in heaven. Jesus used her example of giving to teach an important lesson to all his disciples. As one of today's 'super-rich' remarked, "A man's generosity is not measured by how much he gives, but by how much he keeps." Jesus was so delighted and surprised at the extent of this widow's offering that he made it 'head-line news'. It should also be noted that she was not trying to buy her way into heaven, but gave out of a full and grateful heart to the Lord Almighty whom she loved.