There are some things that are so strange that if the Bible didn’t clearly say them, none of us would believe them.
Here is an example. It’s found in Mark 6:5-6: “He (Jesus) 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.”
The progression of events in Mark is significant. In Mark 4, Jesus told a storm to dissipate; and when it did, his disciples were blown away. In Mark 5, Jesus effortlessly cast hundreds of demons out of a single man, and the people were amazed.
Then He raised a dead girl to life, and again, it says that the people were amazed.
But in Mark 6, after all of these events that amazed the people, it says that when Jesus got to His own hometown, He COULD NOT do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
And HE was amazed … at their lack of faith.
This is so strange that if it had come from any source other than the Bible itself, we would almost certainly say it was blasphemy! We simply do NOT put “Jesus” and “could not” in the same sentence!
Think about that! Jesus thought it a matter of ROUTINE to still storms, overcome endless demons, and reverse death; but when He found a lack of faith, THAT limited His actions. There was nothing routine about that to Him! He was LITERALLY amazed!
This was the exact reverse of the mindset of the people. Lack of faith did not amaze them whatsoever. It was ROUTINE to not have enough faith to see storms silenced or demons driven out or the dead returned to life.
In THEIR world, one NEVER saw those things happen!
But to see a man who could do any and all of those things? Mind-blowing!
THIS, IN A NUTSHELL, GIVES A BRILLIANTLY CLEAR DESCRIPTION OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JESUS AND ALL OTHER MEN. To Him, miracles were effortless and routine. But to them, they were impossible and never seen.
They couldn’t comprehend how He could do those things, and He couldn’t comprehend how they could claim to believe in God and yet NOT do those things.
We would call that a dramatic difference in “worldview,” except that HIS would be more accurately described as a “heavenview” (since He was not originally from our world).
In order to learn the deeper lessons in this passage of Scripture, I need to make a very obvious statement. Are you ready? Here it comes: Storms don’t have ears. Why is that important? Because it makes the obvious point that God is not actually limited in His working by the receptivity of the person or thing that He is commanding.
It would be silly to say that the storm must have had enough faith, or Jesus couldn’t have commanded it to be still.
He could open deaf ears that by definition couldn’t hear His command. He could multiply dead fish that (being dead) couldn’t hear His command, and He could bring dead people back to life despite their non-functioning ears. These unilateral actions prove that His power was REAL, not based on psychosomatic commands or mob hysteria.
But Mark 6 tips us off to a secret of God’s Kingdom. God has voluntarily LIMITED Himself in the arena where people choose not to believe in Him.
I know pastors and entire churches that do not believe that God does miracles among us anymore. And guess what? They never DO see miracles! But that is not confirmation that God has ceased doing miracles. It is confirmation that God prefers to do miracles in response to the confident expectation of faith. He has decided to set that as a principle that guides His behavior. He said, “You don’t have because you don’t ask.”
Suppose you heard that a woman was standing outside of a certain building downtown and giving hundred-dollar bills to people. You might rush down there to see if you could get some. There is no guarantee that she would still be at the same place when you got down there, and there is no guarantee that she would still be giving out hundred-dollar bills. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that she would choose to give one to YOU, because frankly, no one is sure why she started doing it to begin with!
But I can virtually guarantee that you will NOT receive any hundred-dollar bills from her if you refuse to go downtown to the place where she is expressing that generosity and ask.
If you don’t believe that God will do anything, He probably won’t! If you approach God in faith that He will do something, your odds of Him saying yes dramatically increase!
In a limited sense, YOU GET TO CHOOSE how many miracles you see in your lifetime. The half-brother of Jesus taught us, “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective!”
So let me get personal. What kind of world would YOU like to live in? A dreary world in which everything takes its predetermined path along the lines of natural laws — one with no evidence of the breath-taking power of a God who can intervene whenever He chooses? Or a world where God makes exceptions from time to time to the death sentence pronounced over you by the medical community, or smashes the looming disaster caused by your poverty?
Coming with a “cocky” attitude into God’s presence with demands will never work, because God can’t be played for a fool. HOWEVER … coming hopefully, expectantly, respectfully, and humbly into His presence will often result in a miracle for you and glory for His name.
By God’s grace, may no Missionary Church be led by defeatist, weak-faithed pessimists who teach their people to assume that God either cannot or will not act in love when His people need a miracle. My prayer is that God will reveal Himself to be mighty (and rich in love!) toward any churches and leaders who take their courage in hand and begin asking God for bigger things than they have ever asked.
And may YOU, beloved leader, lead your church in such a way that heaven’s histories will never record that on YOUR watch Jesus could not do many miracles there, or that He was amazed by your church’s lack of faith.