Happy anniversary to us! It was three years ago that this blog was born, and it has certainly proven to be an eventful three years. Each of has just come through something unusual in history, and by that I mean an event that just about everyone in the world went through together. It has marked us all in many ways, and I remain hopeful that good things can come from the ills and challenges of the recent past. The very first blog post in August of 2018 was on the subject of faith, and it is to that topic we return today.
Jesus had a lot to say about us and our faith. Let’s look at a particularly striking passage from the book of Matthew, and its parallel in Mark:
Matthew 13: 58
And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Mark 6: 5-6
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.
This passage of scripture deals with a visit that Jesus made to Nazareth, His hometown. Judging by the town’s reaction in this passage, I am thinking this must have been the first time Jesus publicly appeared in Nazareth since His ministry truly began. He was born in Bethlehem, and spent some time as a very young child with Mary and Joseph in Egypt, but most of His life to that point had been spent in Nazareth. It was not a huge city, but rather a small town - the consensus is that it was 400-500 people in Jesus’ day. Have you ever lived in a town that size, or maybe attended a school that size? Everyone would know everyone else; everyone would know everyone’s business. You almost can’t help that in a small town.
Jesus spent the first thirty years of His life just being a good son to His earthy parents, and a good big brother to His younger siblings. He worked alongside Joseph in their carpenters’ shop, and everyone would have known Him as the guy in town who could fix anything. If anyone had taken the time to reflect, I am sure they would have had to admit that there was also no one more noble or kind than Jesus. Still, to them He was just a regular person and not a prophet, priest, or king. So when He went back and taught in their synagogue in His great wisdom and power, it is not really a surprise that the Bible tells us they were offended at Him.
Everywhere else that Jesus had gone since He launched His ministry, amazing things happened. Plain water was turned into the best wine of all, giant crowds were fed from just one little boy’s lunch, multitudes were healed of every kind of disease, people were delivered from demonic affliction - Jesus was doing miracles everywhere He went. But in Nazareth, His own town among His own people, He did not do many miracles at all.
This town should seriously make us sit up and pay attention! Of all the towns in the world at that time, this was the one that should have known and trusted Jesus best. He had been there, walking and living and working among them all almost His whole life. This serves as a strong warning to us as Christians - the people of Nazareth had become too comfortable with Jesus as they perceived Him. They presumed to know everything about Him, but they actually did not know Him at all. They did not believe in Him, and as a result, the town was not transformed by His presence.
Are we too comfortable with Jesus as we think He is? Is He just the guy that we grew up with, or a good example we follow, or the one relegated to the pages of our Book? Have we presumed to know Him, and therefore assigned limits to Him? Have difficult circumstances caused me to be offended by Him? We have to be careful not to put limits on Him in our hearts - to not let our faith in Him be diminished - just because we get lost in the muddle of trying to make sense of the surroundings and circumstances of our real life experience. “Ok Jesus, I can handle that, but this is going way too far!”
Jesus did not do many miracles in Nazareth because of their lack of faith. Mark tells us Jesus was actually amazed by their lack of faith. How sad and how tragic! Just like every other town, Nazareth was surely full of broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken relationships, but Jesus came and went, and their lives remained broken.
We must do all that we can not to let our homes, churches, and towns suffer from this same lack of faith. Everything around us, especially in most media and academia, is trying to convince us that Christianity is an elaborate form of make-believe. So much around us in the marketplace is a vacuum of unbelief in Jesus. We know when we walk into our situation that this unbelief will try to choke out our faith, but we forget and we get choked when things get tough. It is an old trick in the enemy’s playbook, but used again and again because it so often works.
Sadly, nothing much happened when Jesus came to Nazareth due to their lack of faith. But how wonderful to realize that it stands to reason that the converse must also be true...many miracles can happen when Jesus works in places where there is a lot of faith.
I really love Christmas movies. I watch the same ones over again every single year. Of course they are usually sappy, but they are so much fun to watch. So many movies hinge on the idea of collective belief and faith. Think of It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, and so on. Sadness and despair come when people forget to actually believe. Conversely, there is real power when people remember to believe and exercise their faith. These stories touch on something real and powerful.
When the people of God remember who God really is and what He can do, lives are changed.
Our faith matters.
Each of us is in an area of influence that is unique. I know and associate with people that you might never meet, and the same is true for you. Some of us work or go to school where there are few Christians around. But no matter our context, no matter how dark and how difficult, we must bring our faith in Christ with us into these arenas. It is our mandate, it is our mission, and it is also all we have. We can do very little in our own power to do anything for our friends. We cannot save anyone, but we know Jesus, and Jesus saves!
Therefore, we must do everything in our power to keep our faith strong and growing stronger. We must seek Him and look to Him and know Him in all His glory and majesty. We must daily fan our faith into flame, and refuse to let circumstances dictate our faith. We must remind ourselves and one another how good and strong and loving and generous He is. We must trust Him and what the Word of God teaches us about Him.
We must not doubt His character like the people of Nazareth. DL Moody said every Christian can see God, so majestic and grand, with His hands filled to the brim with every good thing and with His glory. Faith looks at Him and believes, “We can have all of that!” Unbelief looks at Him and scorns, “See? He won’t give us anything.”
Our faith could be what God uses to bring His glory into the places we live. Our faith could open up something within our neighbor’s heart to make way for miracles.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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