AND JESUS WONDERED AT THEIR UNBELIEF
AND JESUS WONDERED AT THEIR UNBELIEF
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
3 JULY 1994
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Have you ever really thought about your faith, and about how much you believe and don't believe?
Have you ever looked upon the lives of others and wondered about their belief or unbelief?
When someone knows the truth, and others don't accept the truth, even when the evidence is right before them, doesn't it open the door to wonderment on both sides?
Those who see the truth wonder at the blindness of those who don't see.
And those who don't see think that those who see are somewhat crazy, or at least have a few loose marbles running around in their heads.
In Mark 6:1-13, we read of such situations. Let's take a look at these verses, and apply the light of the message to our lives today.
1. And He [Jesus] went out from there, and He came into His home town; and His disciples followed Him.
2. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?
Do you see the wonderment at what they were seeing?
And note specifically what they wondered about: They wondered about where He got all of His wisdom and knowledge, and they wondered about all the miracles performed by Him.
They wondered at the physical evidence before their eyes.
They wondered about the truth that was evident to them.
But note what we are told they said next:
3. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him.
They had just acknowledged His knowledge and wisdom.
They had just acknowledged the miracles performed by His hands.
Even if they didn't accept Him as Messiah, surely they could see what He did.
But just because they knew Him and His family, they didn't believe in Him, and they also rejected the evidence.
Havenít you heard some of the people in our own community acting this same way?
I've heard this same kind of reaction about God, about creation, about the Bible, and about believers.
I've heard their wonderment, and I've heard their disbelief.
Today it's just as Jesus said about His own community.
4. And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household."
And note the results of their unbelief:
5. And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them.
We are told He could do no miracles.
Why couldn't He?
Surely He didn't lack the power to do so, because He did heal a few sick people.
What this passage is telling us is that there is a relationship between our own faith and the power of God that flows toward us.
The power of God flows as a river of life for all who will drink from it, but our human lack of faith seems to build a dam to block or divert the flow.
The power, or water, is still there, but it is not flowing toward the faithless.
But for those who have the faith, as with those few sick people, the power of God is still there.
How can people see and hear and still not believe!
6. And He wondered at their unbelief.
And He was going around the villages teaching.
7. And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs; and He was giving them authority over the unclean spirits;
8. and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belt;
9. but to wear sandals; and He added , "Do not put on two tunics."
10. And He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town.
11. "And any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them."
12. And they went out and preached that men should repent.
13. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.
Jesus sent the disciples out from where they lived, and the power of God flowed with them.
Those who repented received the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord that the disciples brought with them, and they also received the life-giving power.
Thus many were healed; but more importantly, many came to believe and have faith.
But those who didn't receive them, and didn't receive the gift of eternal life from Jesus, ended up just as they were, and perhaps worse.
Their evilness and hardness of heart was returned to them, as the dust from the soles of the disciplesí feet.
I presume that each and every one of us is here because we believe and want the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
So, as with the disciples of Jesus some 2,000 years ago, we are here to be refueled, so to speak, with the power of the Holy Spirit.
And, we are sent out to offer this gift to everyone we encounter.
Offer them ourselves, first.
Then offer them the gifts of love, compassion, peace, and eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Show them the change that has happened in your life, and how you, personally, are different from those who do not believe.
Words can be cheap, so we shouldn't just tell them; we must show them the change in our life.
Show them how you, not someone else, have overcome the fears in your life because of the love of God; and how the love of God has allowed you to live in peace.
Show them how you are free to express God's love and compassion toward all of creation, even if they don't.
Don't lord it over them, simply show them by doing what you know is right.
If we offer all of this, and they come to believe and have faith of their own, we will truly see a miracle.
But if they don't receive what you are offering, that is, if you are offering the whole package, then don't worry about it; wonder about their unbelief, but move on to the next one, taking your gifts back with you until they have a change of heart and seek what God offers us all.
Be a disciple of Christ, even as you wonder at the growing hardness of heart around the world.
Always be a peacemaking disciple of Christ.
Let us pray!
Your Comments are welcome
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