Mark 6:5-6 “Jesus could do no miracle in Nazareth except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled at their unbelief.”
The gospels record Jesus as “marveling” just twice; here in Mark 6:6 and also in Matthew 8:10. In Matthew, Jesus marvels at the faith of an outsider, a centurion. In this passage, He marvels at the lack of faith of His own people.
If He looked at the church today and marveled, would it be for our surprisingly deep faith or our surprisingly shallow faith?
In the 1960s John Wimber became a Christian. As a young Christian, after reading the New Testament, he famously asked at a Bible study one evening: “When does the stuff happen?” Those in attendance asked, “What stuff?” Wimber replied (more or less): “The signs and wonders stuff, the miracles and healings, the demons cast out and the afflicted set free? Surely if it happened in the ministry of Jesus and in the life of the early church, it should be normal for the Kingdom of God, across culture and across time.”
Wimber’s question eventually led him to leadership of the Vineyard Movement before his untimely death in 1997 at 63 years of age.
Mark 6 rekindles Wimber’s question for me. And it begs some additional questions which may not be easy to answer. Why has the church become so much more like a classroom than a field hospital? Why are so few miracles or healings happening in so many congregations? If the risen Christ abides with us, with all of His power and authority established post-resurrection, why does His ministry seem so sedate in so many places? Does this reflect on our faith in any way? Have some contemporary congregations become mirrors of ancient Nazareth?
So many questions…and more.
If the Lord made an assessment of our lives today, I suspect He would rightly describe many of us as faithful. But would He describe us as faith-filled? The difference is significant.
The people of Nazareth surprised Jesus. Those who knew most about Him, had not really learned to trust Him. And “He could do no miracle there.”
On this 14th day of Lent, are we trusting Him more? Filled with more confidence and courage? Willing to step out of the boat just because He calls us? Merely faithful or thoroughly faith-filled?