Reverential Fear

“But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (Matthew 9:8).

The word rendered “awestruck,” although often translated “fear,” most commonly refers to reverential awe in the New Testament. It is how someone feels who is in the presence of another, infinitely superior person.

“Awestruck” describes the reaction to numerous significant events we read about in the gospels and Acts: the shepherds hearing of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:9), the apostles when their Lord walked on water (Matt. 14:26), the guards at the tomb when the angels rolled away the stone (Matt. 28:2–4), the people in the early church right after Pentecost (Acts 2:43), and the reaction to the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5, 11).

Reverential awe of God is an essential part of the genuine Christian life (see 2 Cor. 7:1, 10–11; Phil. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:2). This attitude must undergird all important aspects of worship, ministry, love, respect, and even biblical church discipline (see 2 Cor. 5:11; Eph. 5:21; 1 Tim. 5:20).
The awe-filled response by most of the people in the crowd as they witnessed what Jesus did for the paralytic was certainly the right one, especially since it resulted in their giving glory to God. Such an attitude should never be far from us as we strive to faithfully worship and serve the Lord (cf. Acts 9:31).

Ask Yourself
How magnificent of a revelation does it take for you to be “awestruck” at God’s splendor and glory? What simple, basic, everyday things are ready examples of His greatness, though disguised as something ordinary and insignificant?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610