Amazing Unbelief

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Amazing Unbelief
Text: Mark 6:1-6
Occasion: General
Audience: General
Theological Tradition: Wesleyan
Topic: Power, Understanding
Author: George Lyons


Our own lack of understanding and self-reliance is keeping God from working in us.

How to Get There

  • This story is really familiar to many of us. We have all had people who knew us long ago or who are really close to us ignore something we said just because they are too familiar with us to see what we are truly saying.
  • Those people who watched us grow up or lived next to us for years just know us too well. But surely we think, these people had lived with Jesus and heard the stories of the virgin birth, the magi's, etc.
  • But the seeming question that those who knew him had of him seems to say that Jesus had a very normal childhood, despite what the apocryphal stories say.
  • And these people call Jesus a carpenter, not the son of a carpenter. He had been working for years, and would have been fit and strong, not emaciated like a “real” prophet would have looked from all that fasting.
  • People just couldn't see Jesus as a prophet when they had known him as a worker and a boy. And the company he kept didn't help either. Too many revolutionaries, fishermen, and the unclean.
  • The beginning chapters of Mark record Jesus' doing amazing things in other Galilean villages. Surely the people in his hometown had heard these accounts.
  • Most of us in Jesus' shoes would have wowed the crowd just to show everyone we know how amazing we really are. We would cure people, grant blessings and miracles.
  • And Jesus certainly could have done these things, but he didn't. Their lack of faith did not render him powerless.
    • He had done miracles where there wasn't faith before (Mark 4:35-41, Mark 5:1-20).He did cure some people here after all (verse 5). But other times (Matthew 4, Luke 4), he had refused to perform miracles at Satan's request.
    • There are some things that do some through prayer alone, but never think a lack of faith can overpower the Master of the Universe and force his hand one way or the other.
  • For some reason, God chooses to act in subtle ways most of the time, never acting in ways that make unbelief impossible, or where he is unwanted.
  • Jesus could not perform miracles here precisely because he was God. He was not us, and had nothing to prove. He wasn't a power hungry man out to make a name for himself. He chose to respect their unbelief, their lack of asking him for actual help. They did not
  • For some of us, like these people, the grace of God is shut out of our lives not because we know Christ so well, but because we think we know what is best for ourselves. We refuse to accept that we need help.
  • Jesus was amazed by their unwillingness to let him help them. Their knowledge of Jesus, who they thought Jesus was, kept them from seeking his help. The same thing happens with us.
  • We don't know what is best for ourselves. And our own pretended knowledge and pretended strength gets in the way of God at work in us.

This message was originally written by Dr. George Lyons, converted to this format by Brian M.

Things to Watch For

The Apocrypha can be very helpful here, but it depends on your congregation and your own theology. The Apocrypha are the other writings about New Testament times. Among the writings are many stories about Jesus' boyhood, and they are all filled with fanciful tales of healings, and miracle deeds. These are not accepted as canon, but help to illustrate in some situations how obvious you would think Jesus' divinity would have been to those around him. Use them, but use with care.

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