Jesus in Home Town

Today we are trying to find an answer to a simple but important question.
Do Jesus need our faith to work miracles in our life?

Let me repeat the question in a different word order.
Does Jesus work miracles based on the faith of the receiver?
Can human’s faith limit the ability of Christ to perform miracles?

For further discussion let us read two Bible verses about one and the same incident.

Mark 6:5,6
5    Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
 6   And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.  (NKJV)

Matthew 13:58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.  (NKJV)

Let me tell you something about the situation.
Jesus crossed the lake from Capernaum and entered his own country, Nazareth.
His successful activity in neighboring village aroused expectation of positive results in Nazareth too.
But, tragically, these positive results did not continue in Nazareth.

Nazareth is the home town of Jesus; He was brought up in this village.
Mark and Matthew in the above passages are narrating His visit to this village.
Jesus visited the synagogue in Nazareth and taught from the scripture.
All of His countrymen were astonished.
Their question was: "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?
They all knew His carpenter father, His mother Mary and His brothers and sisters.
But they have no idea about the Rabbi who taught, trained and commissioned Jesus.

In another occasion at another place, the audience of Jesus was amazed because He taught them like a Rabbi who had authority to interpret Laws.
Jesus functioned as a rabbi who had authority to interpret the Law or to give new explanation to the Law and to settle disputes among people.
But the people in His home town never heard of any rabbi who taught, trained and commissioned Jesus as another rabbi.
According to the long tradition of Jews, an aspirant rabbi should learn the scripture under an acknowledged rabbi and as he completes his discipleship, the teacher rabbi should commission him to go, teach and make disciples.
None has ever heard of any rabbi, under whom Jesus studied.
So though the teaching of Jesus was amazing, it was hard for the people to accept Him as a rabbi.
So they expressed their contempt of him.

After this narration of the situation, Mark says in chapter 6: “Now He could do no mighty work there.”
There comes the question, why Jesus could not do might works there?
So Mark goes on to say that, “He marveled because of their unbelief.”
Matthew in chapter 13 says of the same incident:  “Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
So we may assume that Jesus was unable to do mighty works or He did not do mighty works in His own village because of the unbelief of the people.
That is, the people did not believe that Jesus could do might works.

And to stop from going to any wrong conclusion about the situation, Mark added: “except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”

Now our topic for discussion is that, why Jesus could not do mighty works in His home town?
Did Jesus depend on the faith of the people to perform miracles?
Was Christ’s ability to perform miracles predicated upon the faith of the people?”

Jesus always appreciated the faith of people to work wonders and signs, but His ability to perform miracles was not based on the faith of the people.
Christ power and authority to perform miracles is never limited by human’s faith.

How shall we explain this paradoxical situation?
Let us look at certain miracles Jesus performed as a part of His earthly ministry.

In his gospel chapter 5, John narrates an incident of Jesus healing a man suffering a physical infirmity for thirty eight years.
Jesus went to the pool called Bethesda in Jerusalem.
There was a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame and paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
They believed that an angel occasionally went down into the pool and stirred up the water.
Whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

Among this large crowd of sick people, Jesus noticed a certain man who had an infirmity for thirty eight years.
Jesus asked him whether he want to be healed.
This man did not realize that it was a Jesus, a great rabbi and a miracle healer.
He might have never heard of Jesus, since he had been there for many years.
His only hope and faith was in the stirring of water by an angel.
He did not express any faith in Jesus.

So he replied: "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me."
His words are not words of faith in Jesus.
He was not confessing his sins and asking forgiveness from Jesus.
He did not even requested Jesus to help to go into the pool next time the angel stirred the water.
He simply expressed his despair.

But Jesus healed him, saying: "Rise, take up your bed and walk."
Jesus worked a miracle without the basis of faith from the sick man.
In another way, Jesus depended on His own faith and the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Him.

Now let us go to another incident recorded by Luke in Chapter 22
A group of Roman soldiers, servants of the high priest of the Temple led by Judas came to arrest Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane.
And Simon Peter, drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
But Jesus stopped Peter.
Then Jesus touched the wounded ear and healed him.

The servant of the high priest was an enemy to Jesus; he came to arrest Jesus.
He never expected such an attack from Peter and never expected Jesus to heal him.
He had no faith and he cried not for healing.
Still Jesus could heal him.

What do we surmise from these two incidents where Jesus performed miracles?
The receiver expressed no faith in Jesus, they never cried for healing.
But Jesus worked a miracle in their life.

It simply proves that the power and authority of Jesus to perform wonders and signs was never based on the faith of the receiver.
The power of doing miracles was based on the authority Jesus received from God through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

But then why Jesus could not perform miracles in His home town.
Let us go back to the situation once more.

Jesus taught the scripture in the synagogue in His own village, Nazareth, with new interpretations and explanations like a Rabbi with authority.
But since the people in his own village knew that Jesus was not taught or commissioned by a Rabbi, they did not accept Him.
They knew that Jesus could perform miracles; but they could find no authority to it.
Perhaps, Jesus was doing miracles with the help of evil spirits.
So they rejected Him.

After the gathering in the synagogue, a few poor people with less severe diseases approached Him.
Jesus laid hand on all those who approached Him for healing and they were healed.
Jesus knew that there were more sick people in the village.
There were mute and dumb people, demon possessed people, paralyzed and crippled people in the village.
He was willing to heal them; but none approached Jesus.
So He could not do greater works there.

That means, Jesus could not do greater works among them, not because His ability to perform miracles was based on the faith of the people.
He could not do miracles there because none approached Him for healing.
That is why Matthew in his gospel makes a correction to Mark, saying: “He did not do many mighty works there”
Matthew is clarifying the situation by saying that, the ability of Jesus to do miracles was not depended on the faith of the people; but that Jesus did not do any miracle because the people rejected Him.

As we have said above, there were sick people in the village.
Jesus could go to some houses, because it is His own village.
He could visit some sick in their houses and heal them, thus performing great miracles.
But Jesus did not do it.

Jesus was not a performer or miracles; He was not a magician to perform wonders before people.
Jesus came to announce the inauguration of the Kingdom of God.
His crucifixion as an atonement to human sins was a part of the restoration of the Kingdom.
Redemption is the redemption of the Kingdom of God with all humans who belong to it.
Miracles of Jesus was not a public display, for the sake of it, of His power and authority.
That is why, Jesus' miraculous deeds are often called "signs" in the New Testament.
Miracles were signs of the presence of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of the Messiah and the signs identified Jesus as the promised Messiah.

And also we should understand that the miracles Jesus performed were acts of grace towards the people.
No one ever had faith enough to receive a miracle; but Jesus poured out grace to the people.
Even Mary and Martha got back their brother Lazarus from the grave because of God’s Grace.
Lazarus was resurrected from the grave not because he or his sisters had extra ordinary faith.
This fact is well revealed in the narration of the incident.

But, the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus and God’s Grace that was extended to them.
Some poor folks came to Jesus and they received the Grace of God.
That means, unbelief excluded the people of Nazareth from the dynamic disclosure of God's grace that others had experienced.

At many occasions, Jesus demanded faith from the people.
On the other hand, Jesus could overcome the absence of faith when he desired to do so.
Throughout the gospel, Mark promoted faith as a critical element in the healing mission of Jesus. 
But faith of the people was not essential
Faith was not a necessary condition in any absolute sense. 
God's freedom cannot be limited in that way. 

What did Matthew exactly mean when he said: “He did not do many mighty works there”
That is Jesus purposefully did not do any mighty works in His home town.
As we have already said above, Jesus is not a performer; He is the Messiah who came to restore the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is gentleman who never breaks into their homes and perform miracles for publicity.
In another way, Jesus never violated the volition of the people.
Everybody has a free will to accept or reject Jesus and God’s Grace.
Miracles in our life is an out pour of God’s Grace; but Grace is not designed as irresistible.
The people had the freedom to accept or reject Jesus; they had the freedom to accept or reject God’s Grace.
Grace is a legal offer to every one; not an irresistible force.
Jesus did not perform any mighty works in Nazareth because they rejected Him and God’s Grace.

Let me wind up this short message here.
The power and authority of Jesus to perform a miracle is not based on the faith of the people.
Jesus always depended on His own authority to work miracles.
Our unbelief cannot constrain His divine authority and power.
Faith of the people is willingness to accept the miracle from Jesus.
Jesus never violates the volition; He respects our free will to accept or reject.
Every miracle in our life is a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst.
Every miracle is an out pouring of God’s Grace towards us; we never earn anything from God.

Thank you.

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