The Disabling Nature of Unbelief

5 Mins read

“And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages teaching” (KJV, Mark 6:5-6).

“And he could there do no mighty work”

The words of Mark 6:5 are startling. They are almost unbelievable. But the Bible says it, and therefore the Christian must seek to draw out the meaning of the text.

Could Jesus really do no mighty work in Nazareth? It is important to know that Jesus’ omnipotence was not diminished in any way. Jesus’ hand was not stayed, nor was He overcome by a force greater than Himself. Nevertheless, Jesus could not perform miracles at Nazareth.

Jesus had performed miracles in many other places. On one occasion, He fed over five thousand people in a desolate place. He brought people back to life on different occasions and gave sight to the blind. So why could Jesus not perform miracles in this place?

“save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them”

At the very least, some received healing. The Bible states that Jesus put His hands on a few sick people, and they were healed.

Why did these people receive healing and not the rest? Were there no other sick people in Nazareth? Were there no other people with problems that required the attention of Jesus?

The questions can continue to be stacked one upon another as the reader falls back on the alarming words, “And he could there do no mighty work” .

For the select few, Jesus laid His hands on them and healed them. But why? Jesus commonly laid His hands on people when He healed them.

For instance, Scripture says, “And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue” (Mark 7:32-33).

Not only did Jesus lay His Hands on people, but He also frequently touched the area that was afflicted.

The people desired Jesus to lay His hands on the deaf and mute man. But when Jesus took him, He put His fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue.

Elsewhere, the Bible states, “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought” (Mark 8:22-23).

Thus the people wanted Jesus to lay His hands on the blind man, and later Jesus would do just that.

But what does it all mean? Why did Jesus lay His hands on the people?

The laying of hands was symbolic. It represented the transfer of vitality to a needy recipient. Thus, when Jesus stuck His fingers in the man’s ears and touched his tongue, He showed conclusively that He was the source of life.

When Jesus laid His hands on the blind man and rubbed his eyes, it was evident that life out of death came from Jesus. Jesus was the source, and He imparted His life to the ones who were lacking.

But this still does not answer the question, “Why did Jesus not perform miracles in Nazareth?”

“And he marveled”

Instead of performing miracles, Jesus marveled. It could also be said that Jesus wondered. Still, it may be stated that Jesus was astonished. Mark uses the word elsewhere when the Pharisees brought Jesus a Roman coin in an attempt to discredit Him.

The Bible says, “And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him” (Mark 12:16-17).

Thus the people marveled at Jesus’ response to them.

Still, later, the Jews arrest Jesus and bring Him before Pilate. They needed the approval of the Roman government to execute capital punishment. Therefore, Pilate is brought into the picture.

Pilate could release Jesus and free Him from the charges of the Jews. On the other hand, the Jews wanted Jesus dead. Pilate questioned Jesus, but the Bible states, “But Jesus yet answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled” (Mark 15:5).

The response of Jesus caused Pilate to marvel. Pilate was astonished that Jesus would not speak a word.

Similarly, Jesus was astonished at the response of the Nazarenes to Him.

“because of their unbelief”

Finally, the question can be answered. Jesus could not perform many miracles because of their unbelief. This is not to say that Jesus was limited in His power. Unbelief is not a stronger force than God.

But it does mean that Jesus responds to faith; where there is no faith, there are no miracles. Even Moses had to hold his staff out over the Sea in faith.

Faith is an essential component of Christianity. It is not enough to say, “I have believed and am saved.” Faith must grow. It must flourish and thrive. Faith unto salvation is not the end of the road.

It is the beginning of a long road that the Christian must travel, and he will find that he will only advance down the road by faith as well.

Paul has said, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh… He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3:2-3,5).

Here Paul states that it is by faith that God works miracles. He even makes it evident that it is by faith that the Christian will grow into maturity.

But what did the response of the Nazarenes look like? Likely, the people did not move toward Jesus. They probably did not go to Jesus and advance in His direction. This is faith in action.

In the other instances where Jesus healed in this devotional, it is clear that the people moved toward Jesus. In Matthew 8-9, Jesus performs many miracles; the common thread is that all the people advanced in His direction. They sought out Jesus by faith, and Jesus healed them.

Faith moves in the direction of Jesus. The problem with the Nazarenes was that they were not moving in His direction to receive what Jesus had to offer.

“And he went round about the villages teaching”

As a result of their unbelief, Jesus moved on as well. He advanced in his mission, but not without sorrow in His heart. Jesus loved the lost and was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

He saw the sins of the people. He knew that Satan had fooled them. He knew of the darkness that blinded the people’s eyes, but at the same time, He had to move onward.

He was sent on a mission to seek and save the lost. He was given to the world to proclaim the coming kingdom and preach repentance. While He was not accepted at Nazareth, His rejection was only a small portion of one of the most remarkable displays of Jesus’ ministry.

Matthew tells of it and says, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matt. 9:35). Jesus moved on, and many believed.

The Christian must also believe unto salvation but then go on believing. His faith must grow like the mustard seed and flourish like the tree planted by flowing streams.

Final prayer

Father, I pray that You will increase my faith. Help me to trust in You more and look to Jesus in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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