WOW!

An Ignite Europe Devotional by Shawn Brann

When we lose our sense of wonder, what we really lose is our soul. Our lack of wonder is really a lack of love.” 
– Mark Batterson

After being quarantined for two weeks in early April, we drove an hour away for a family hike in the middle of the Swiss Alps. As Tanja was driving on our way home, we went around a turn that opened up to a breathtaking panoramic view of the Ruinaulta, ironically known as the Swiss Grand Canyon. “Look at that!” I shouted from the passenger seat. Tanja pulled over on the side of the freeway, turned on the emergency flashers, and we jumped out of the car to take a picture. Yes, the kids were still in the backseat locked into some Disney video on the iPad. We didn’t care. We were both in awe. 

As I drove away, I just kept saying, “Look at that.” The “look” in my communication can be a complicated one if you were to read it only from a grammatical standpoint. It is in the imperative voice meaning that it is a command. I was telling her to look. However, the command to look was wrapped in awe, wonder, and amazement. In the context of the conversation and the moment what I was really saying was, “WOW!” 

The Greek word for “look” as written in an expressed form of wonder as mentioned is the word ἰδού (transliteration: idou). Many older versions of the Bible, such as the King James Version, translate ἰδού as “behold” or “lo.” For example, when the wise men were looking for Jesus, we read in Matthew 2:9, “… and, lo, the star which they saw in the east went before them…” We often just read over it because we are not there in person to understand the context in which it is expressed. Many newer Bible translations even leave this word out of the text altogether because of its seeming redundancy in the specific verse. 

However, this word is important for us today. The writers use this word many times when something new is introduced to a story or when something specific is mentioned which seems impossible yet occurs. It’s as if the writers, in amazement are saying “WOW, check this out!” These writers still remember the amazement of the moment years later. Remember, the books of the Bible were not written the day Jesus ascended into heaven. The first book to be written was by Jesus’ brother James almost 20 years after the resurrection.

Let’s look at a few ἰδού scripture verses just in the book of Matthew during the final few days of Jesus’ life on earth. He writes this around the year 67AD. 

Immediately after Jesus is arrested, Matthew writes (26:51), “And, ἰδού, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.” 

I can see Matthew reading his newly finished gospel (30 years after Christ’s ascension) around a campfire with his friends along the Caspian Sea, telling the story of the arrest. Laughing in amazement, he tells how his buddy, Peter, cuts off the ear of this servant and how Jesus miraculously healed the man. Matthew, shaking his head, says, “Oh, what a night that was. It was simply unbelievable. You should have seen the shock on that servant’s face both when his ear was cut off and when Jesus lovingly put it back on and reprimanded His disciple. Wow!” 

In the death of Jesus, Matthew continues in awe and wonder (27:50-53): “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, ἰδού, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” 

Matthew is still in amazement at what happened at that final breath. The Holy of Holies was exposed for all to experience. Up until that moment, this sacred room within the temple was separated by a massive veil or curtain. This veil was 60 feet tall, 30 feet wide, and over 8 inches thick. It took close to 300 men to move it. Once a year, one man was able to go to the other side of the curtain in this room called the Holy of Holies. There, he would offer up a sacrifice for the forgiveness of the Israelites while he was in the presence of God. 

But, Matthew, is now telling this story around that campfire and can’t help but to keep saying “wow!” His conversation may have sounded something like this while shaking his head with excitement in his voice, “Friends, you won’t believe this! That massive curtain was torn by the invisible hand of God at the exact moment Jesus died and the exact moment when Caiaphas, the High Priest, would have been stepping through the curtain to offer the blood of a spotless lamb for the sins of the people. It was unbelievable! Wow! That’s why we all get to experience God’s presence daily. We are His high priests now. All from that one moment. WOW! WOW! WOW! And, the whole world even revolted. It was incredible. I mean, when Jesus was born there was a light at midnight, and now, when He dies there was complete darkness at noonday. WOW! You just had to be there.”

Matthew continues his account in his gospel about what happened when Jesus rose from the dead, “And, ἰδού, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” (Matthew 28:2-4)

Just as the earth revolted with an earthquake when Jesus died, it celebrated with an earthquake when He rose from the dead. 

Matthew isn’t the only one amazed, he still remembers how the angel of the Lord was amazed too. He writes in Matthew 28:7 of the angel of the Lord telling Mary, “Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, ἰδού, he goes before you into Galilee; there you will see him: ἰδού, I have told you.”

Jesus, Himself, even expresses his amazement at the reminder he gives the disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you: and, ἰδού, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

We could go on and on and on with scripture verses in the New Testament that have this word ἰδού. It is written 213 times in the New Testament alone. It is found in the first chapter of Matthew and the last chapter of Revelation.

Thirty years after the resurrection, Matthew is still in awe of the things He experienced. So were the other eight writers of the New Testament. 

One of the greatest tragedies of the Christian life is when we lose the wonder of all God has done. Every crossing of the “t” and dotting of the “i” in the Bible and His workings in our lives are filled with amazement. 

Around every turn of the road of life, don’t be too much in a hurry to stop and take in the wonder of God. I hope that all our conversations we have regarding Christ, His word, and our testimonies are covered full of ἰδού, WOW!

Discussion Questions

Read the verses mentioned in this devotional again, with a new understanding of ἰδού. Does this change what you take away from the verses?

Have you ever had a ἰδού moment with God? What words would you use to describe it?

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