We know that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is important, so important that there is a whole chapter in Hebrews dedicated to the heroes of faith. Because these heroes believed God and because they earnestly sought Him, they received God’s blessings.
Just as faith is a powerful force, the opposite of faith, unbelief, is also a powerful force. This has been demonstrated throughout human history. In the beginning, Adam and Eve’s unbelief resulted in the entire planet being cursed. Fast forward a bit to the time of Noah when the whole planet was destroyed by a flood because of unbelief. Later an entire generation of Israelites perished after wandering for forty years in the desert because of their unbelief. Unbelief produces disastrous consequences and prevents people from receiving God’s blessings.
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus visited Nazareth, his hometown, and declared that he was the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. (Luke 4:14-30). During this visit, he was rejected by his own people. He later went back to Nazareth with His disciples and was once again rejected by his own. On Sabbath, He began to teach in the synagogue and while many were amazed, many were offended by Him:
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Mark 6:1-6
Unbelief Is Powerful
There are two times in the Bible where Jesus is described as being “amazed”. Jesus was “amazed” by the Roman centurion’s great faith (Matthew 8:10) and Jesus was “amazed” at his hometown’s lack of faith, their unbelief (Mark 6:6). Notice that both times Jesus’ amazement was related to faith: either the lack of it or the greatness of it. Jesus understood that faith and unbelief are powerful forces and affect people’s destinies.
Jesus faced unbelief throughout his entire ministry. So why is Jesus described as being amazed at the people of Nazareth’s unbelief? Sometimes it helps to think about this in the context of our own lives. Let’s say my best friend from High School who I have known all my life to be a terrible singer, suddenly, and without any formal training, begins to sing in the New York City Metropolitan Opera. I would certainly question the authenticity of her voice. I’d wonder if it was a trick. I’d wonder if maybe it wasn’t really her singing. I’d have trouble believing. That is the same kind of doubt and disbelief that Jesus faced in his own hometown.
Nazareth was a very small town. The people from Nazareth knew Jesus’ background; they knew His mom, dad, and brothers. Presumably, Jesus had attended the synagogue every Saturday for most of his thirty years. They knew he was the son of a carpenter. They knew he had no specialized training. Knowing these things made it very difficult for them to believe that He was the Messiah.
Because of what they thought they knew about Jesus, these people had already made up their minds about him. They had made up their minds before they heard his wisdom, before they saw his miracles, and before they heard his declarations of truth. No amount of wisdom, miracles, or declarations were going to change their minds. Perhaps this is why Jesus was amazed. Unbelief shuts out the supernatural; it stops the blessings of God.[su_pullquote align=”right”]Because of what they thought they knew about Jesus, these people had already made up their minds about him. They had made up their minds before they heard his wisdom, before they saw his miracles, and before they heard his declarations of truth. [/su_pullquote]
Mark 6:5 says that “He [Jesus] could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” One of the purposes of miracles is to attest to the Truth. If someone has already made up their mind about the truth, then what good is a miracle? A miracle will not change a person’s mind. The people in Nazareth knew Jesus could do miracles, but they still did not believe. It’s not that Jesus wasn’t able to do miracles because he lacked power, it’s that he knew that these miracles would not accomplish their purpose: to attest to the truth. These people’s unbelief shut out the possibility of the supernatural, it stopped the blessings of God.
Faith Is Powerful
The apostle John said his sole purpose in writing his gospel was “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31) What does it mean to have “life in his name”? Certainly, it means eternal life, but what about our lives right here and right now? Believing in God, believing in his promises opens our lives to the supernatural. Believing ushers in the blessings of God. Faith is a powerful spiritual force and when we exercise faith, our faith:
Brings eternal life: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8
Brings healing: “He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
Moves mountains: “For assuredly I say to you, whoever SAYS to this mountain, ‘Be removed and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but BELIEVES that those things he SAYS will be done, he will HAVE whatever he SAYS.” Mark 11:23
Brings answer to prayer. “And whatever things you ask in prayer, really believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:22
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a hero of faith. I want to believe God even when my circumstances push me towards doubt and unbelief. I do not want my circumstances to limit what I believe about Jesus. I do not want unbelief to shut out the possibility of the supernatural in my life. I do not want unbelief to stop the blessings of God. Instead, I want to see God move mountains in my life. I want to see God answer my prayers. I want to have life in His name! Life that is full of his blessings, his peace, and his love.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in his is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.” John 3:16-18