Today’s Reading: Mark 6
No one would disagree that Jesus had all the potential to heal anyone, anywhere, anytime. Can you imagine having the person who could heal you, your child, your family, or your marriage right in your town and nothing happens?
How is that possible?
By limiting Jesus.
We have only two times in the Gospels that Jesus was shocked and both have to deal with the issue of faith.
The words wonder or marveled in the gospels mean to be shocked. The first time it occurs is in Matthew when He was shocked at the great faith of a Roman centurion for a servant who was paralyzed. The centurion said to Jesus, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). The centurion’s faith shocked Jesus:
When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” (Matthew 8:10)
The second time Jesus was shocked is in today’s reading in Mark 6. But this is a different kind of shock. This is a shock that happens in a negative way in his hometown. Let’s read it together:
He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6)
The unbelief was not from a Roman pagan but from the people who saw Jesus as a boy and grew up with Him. The people who knew Him best trusted Him least. The people who were around Him most, missed who He was and received only a few things when the potential for everything was in their little town.
When Jesus was shocked, it was either no faith or great faith and this incident was no faith, unbelief. What makes this story crazy is what it’s on the heels of.
In chapter 5 He had just raised a dead girl, set a demoniac free of some 5,400 demons, and healed a woman who had suffered from an incurable condition for twelve years. Then in chapter 6, He went into Nazareth, His hometown, and “could do no miracle” except for healing a few sick people. And here is what’s insane—all these miracles were within walking distance. They happened around Capernaum, and then Jesus walked to Nazareth. The people of Nazareth had Jesus but not His miracles.
Can that happen? You have Jesus but nothing miraculous?
Nazareth was located in the hills of Galilee and had a population of around two hundred people. So the presence of Jesus could literally have changed this town.
How did they limit Jesus?
How can we stop Jesus from doing what He does best—changing lives? We see in Mark 6 that it is through unbelief. What is unbelief?
Unbelief cannot be little faith. The disciples had that, got rebuked, but still had Jesus calm the sea in Mark 4.
What is the difference between unbelief and little faith?
It seems that little faith is seeing our bad and big circumstances as bigger than Jesus. I think unbelief is different; it is doubting the one’s character who can bring the miracle.
When Jesus taught the people, they challenged who He is because of their limited knowledge:
When the sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:2-3)
Little faith—what Jesus sometimes labeled as doubt—is when you question what you believe, or if you believe it, or why you believe it.
That’s okay. God is still there. Miracles can still happen with doubt present and questions swirling in your mind. But nothing happens when there is unbelief.
Unbelief is the refusal to believe. There is no doubt, there are no questions. You have come to your conclusion.
The people of Nazareth had unbelief: Jesus was the carpenter’s son, Mary’s boy. Nothing more. They left no room to be wrong. They decided that they already knew, and what they knew couldn’t be wrong. Well, the Nazareth people were not just wrong, they were limited, and therefore Jesus was limited. This was the carpenter’s son and also God’s Son. He made things out of wood and made a universe out of nothing. He came from a virgin’s womb but also came down from heaven as Immanuel.
But they chose not to believe.
After viewing the works in a renowned art museum, a man said to the guard, “I don’t see any great value in this artwork.”
“Sir,” the guard answered, “the paintings are not what’s on trial here. The visitors are.”
That’s so true. If you look at a Rembrandt or a Monet, and you say, “I don’t see anything good about that,” it simply shows your ignorance concerning art.
That’s the Nazareth problem. The people said, “We don’t see anything special about Jesus. He’s just the carpenter, and we know His mother, brothers, and sisters.”
Jesus wasn’t on trial in Nazareth. The Nazarites were and they failed. Let’s be careful not to make the same mistake. Always remember He is much more that you can ever imagine.
Let’s not limit Jesus in our churches, in our cities, or in our homes.
Let Jesus, be Jesus!