“They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, “What is this? What new teaching is this? With authority He (Jesus) commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him (Mark 1:27).”
Mark uses the Greek word translated “amazed” in his Gospel in a technical way. He uses amazed to mean that the people who saw what Jesus did responded to something supernatural. Their response to Jesus was a subconscious response.
People often use these the terms for our subconscious and our unconscious mind interchangeably, But there’s a subtle difference between them.
The Unconscious Mind
A person has little control over their unconscious mind. The unconscious mind stores memories, but they are not retrievable except by using special techniques. Our unconscious mind affects our actions, but we are unaware that those memories are affecting our actions. We cannot shape our unconscious mind.
The Subconscious Mind
The subconscious mind also stores information, but we can recall it if we try. We remember where we’ve been before and how to get there. The main point for us here is we can respond to what happens when we get a subconscious impression. We are aware of it.
Jesus is Supernatural
When Jesus did His mighty works, people had a subconscious impression that something supernatural had happened. Jesus, and by proxy, Mark, expected people to respond to their subconscious impressions to determine who Jesus was. Mark referred to this subconscious response as amazement or astonishment.
An Example of Modern-Day Amazement
I live where we don’t (yet) have any In-n-Out Burger restaurants. But a few years ago, I played tennis in Arizona, and our team had a chance to visit their restaurant. One of our players knew this restaurant’s secret menu, and he ordered one of the secret menu’s animal burgers.
Later, a teammate asked him how he liked it. He described it as amazing! And not only amazing, but so amazing he was—to an embarrassing point–gushing about it.
It’s Not Amazing!
Our questioning player challenged him on this. Our teammate didn’t accept the describer’s choice of words, i.e., amazing! The challenger’s understanding of amazing matched how Mark used the word in his gospel. He would accept that the burger was good, even incredibly good. But he absolutely would not accept amazing to describe the burger. In his mind, that word should be used carefully; and not used to describe something beyond what that burger—what any burger!—could possibly be.
And neither one of them would let it go. The describer insisted that it really was that good and that he needed to use the ultimate word—amazing! –to describe this decadent delight. The objector wouldn’t let his argument go either. So, the back-and-forth went on for an amusingly long time. A person loses track of time when this happens, but it may have been ten minutes! It was truly hilarious to listen to how adamant both were to defend their point of view.
A Silly Response, but a Response
Mark would agree with the objector. Jesus was amazing; the burger was just really good. But it sounded like the person enjoying the burger responded to his subconscious impression, even if his response sounds silly.
Responding to Jesus as God
The Jews who saw Jesus and His mighty works were amazed (supernaturally, subconsciously) in the spiritual sense. He did works they had never seen before. They knew Jesus did the works of God. He cast out demons, healed lepers, forgave sins (and offered proof, see Mark 2:1-12), and taught with heaven’s authority. Their subconscious mind told them Jesus was supernatural.
Respond to Your Subconscious Witness to Jesus
The Witness is Valid
The subconscious mind is a valid witness; it’s an honest observer. No one thinks up a subconscious response on the spot and you can’t fool it. Some were amazed and followed up on their response by following Jesus and they responded in faith. He showed many convincing proofs that He was the promised Messiah, the one who could give them life. But many had that same subconscious response to Jesus’ works, but they didn’t follow up on their impression. They just let it pass.
Jesus Offers Eternal Life
Many unbelievers, even though they’ve never seen Jesus in the flesh, have had a personal experience with Him. Some have seen visions, some have heard and seen others witness to Him, and some have met Jesus by reading the Bible. When you have this type of experience, you will experience amazement! This is your subconscious witness. If you have had this happen, or when you do, please respond to it. This experience will tell you Jesus is the Son of God who offers eternal life to those who believe in Him. And when you come to Him in faith and believe in Him for eternal life, He promises you will receive it.
And His invitation is not to change first and then come to Him. Rather, He asks you to come as you are, with empty hands.
No strings attached.