06 February, 2008

He Could Do No Miracle

And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. (Mark 6:5 NASB)
This verse is unexpected. We would expect the verse to say "And He would do no miracle there." In other words, we would expect the verse to say that Jesus went to his hometown, saw the hardness of their hearts and as a lesson or punishment, refused to perform any miracles. That is not what this verse says. The verse says he could not do miracles or, in the cross referenced passages, just a very few miracles.

The lesson of this passage seems to be that Jesus can work in the faithful and cannot work in the faithless. The weakness is not on the part of Jesus, per se, but on our part. His righteous character, which is the perfect image of his Father's character, works in faithful people by design and is thwarted by faithlessness.

So what are the implications for us? Well, it seems to me that our impressions of God and Christ can end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we do not believe that God and Christ are at work in our lives, it will probably be true. They won't come to work in our lives because of our unbelief. On the other hand, if we do think God and Christ are at work in our lives, they will be. Our faith will activate, if you will, the power of God in our lives.

Think about the astonishing implications here if this is true. If we are one of those who see God as only involved in major world affairs such as appointing rulers, then as far as we are concerned, that is true. However, if we see God at work in every day events in a personal way, He is.

I am a believer of God being at work in everything. How do I reconcile these two seemingly opposing perspectives that God is in everything but we can somehow block Him by lack of faith? The answer is simple. Think of it this way. For those who do not see God in the details, that unbeliever does not get the full benefit of Romans 8:28: "all things work together for good to them that love God." Compare this idea to the passage in question. When Jesus was in Nazareth amongst the unbelievers, he was there. He did do things. He just didn't do many miraculous things because of their unbelief. Similarly, I think God and Christ are always there in our lives. They are always doing things. However, if we don't believe they are there in the details, they aren't going to do much. If we believe, however, they will work miracles.

James 1 seems to give us the same idea:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (James 1:5- 7)
Just because we ask God to give us wisdom, which He is glad to do; it doesn't mean it is going to happen. We must have faith that it will happen. This is true for all of life's miracles. We can't ask God to heal someone and not really think He will do it. We can't ask for God to direct our paths and then think that He is too busy with bigger things to bother with us.

In this age of reason and science, belief in the miraculous has fallen out of style. Let us not be like the men of Nazareth which "took offense at him" and didn't believe. We worship a big God who knows the number of the hairs on our head and loves us so much He gave His son for us. We worship a savior, Jesus Christ, who willingly laid down his life for us and now sits at the right hand of God. The God who created the heaven and earth, divided the Red Sea, brought fire down from heaven and raised His son from the dead is alive and well and still working to take a people out for His name. You can bet your life on it and I hope you do.


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