The Power of Unbelief
Read Mark 6:1-13
High School. It’s been quite a few years since I was there. We were living in Springfield, Missouri, for my High School years. Dad was stationed at an Army base nearby. I truly enjoyed my teenage years, and even the name of my High School didn’t bother me after a while. Kickapoo High School. I know. You can laugh. Our school was named after an Indian tribe, and so we were known as the “Kickapoo Chiefs.” You’re still laughing, aren’t you? Go ahead; get it out of your system. I’ll wait. Because you may not be laughing after I tell you about one of the students in my school.
He was in the grade behind mine, even though he was only 3 months younger than me. We shared many of the same friends and so our paths crossed frequently. While we weren’t best buddies, we were casual friends and felt very comfortable together. Now, this guy, while he was attractive, was no ladies man. No, he was more comfortable being everybody's friend than hitting the dating circuit. Besides that, he was very involved in the school dramas. Yep, all in all, my friend seemed like your everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill guy.
So, you could probably imagine my complete shock when, a few years later, I heard his name on TV. Yes, the Brad Pitt of my High School yearbook had moved far beyond the walls of humble Kickapoo High, into the glamorous world of Hollywood; and in the process, became one of the best-known actors of our time. But if you would've told me then that Brad would one day make millions in Tinsel Town, I would've said you're dreaming. He was my friend. He was the guy I ate lunch with. He was… Brad. And now that I think about it, I might know just how the people in today's reading may have felt.
It’s in Mark chapter 6 where we find that Jesus had just returned to His hometown of Nazareth. It was the Sabbath, and as was His custom, Jesus went to the synagogue. And this is where our story unfolds. Not only did Jesus attend the synagogue, He began teaching there. And His wisdom left the townspeople astonished… at first. They could hardly believe their ears, until their eyes reminded them of Who was talking. This was Jesus, a hometown boy. Surely He couldn’t speak with such authority.
“He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary… and [they] refused to believe in Him.” Mark 6:3 (NLB)
I like the way The Message Bible put their reaction to Jesus.
They tripped over what little they knew about Him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further. Mark 6:3b (MSG)
This was Jesus, Mary's Son. They thought they knew Him, but they did not. There’s an old saying that “an expert is an ordinary fellow from another town.” But with Jesus, it was more than that. Their “ordinary” eyes couldn’t see His “extra-ordinary” Power. These people saw Jesus, the Son of God, as they saw themselves – locked up by limitations, hindered with humanness. But while the people of Nazareth were spiritually tethered to their own city limits, Jesus had a “lifeline” that was out of this world. And when He saw the skepticism in their eyes, He was amazed at their unbelief.
Unbelief. It’s a powerful thing. Someone once called it the only limitation to omnipotence. While faith releases God's power, unbelief holds it back. That doesn’t mean that God is any less powerful. It just proves all the more that He is respectful, never forcing Himself on anyone.
To believe Jesus is Who He says He is. And then to believe He will do all that He promises.
When you think about it, there is no one more important to believe in.
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