I don’t think I’ve ever done something truly amazing in my life. My momma told me once when I was about ten years old that she thought I was an amazing cook because I made her a can of chicken soup when she wasn’t feeling well. But I don’t think she really meant it. It didn’t seem that amazing to me. And I’ve been amazed at my dad, who was a carpenter. Some of the projects he built were pretty amazing, I think. But me? No, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything in my life that anyonewould consider truly ‘amazing.’
And yet … maybe I have done some amazing things. We all live in an amazing world. To think that we can instantly converse and connect with people on the other side of the earth is nothing short of amazing. If I want to talk to my brother in Illinois, my brother in Florida, my cousins in Missouri, and my son in Southern California all at the same time, all I need is a computer, an internet connection and a Zoom account. Everyone on the same screen. All of us on the same page, you might say. Everyone virtually in the same room, chatting. That’s almost unbelievable. Almost, but not quite. I believe it’s possible because I’ve witnessed it, many times.
In Mark’s Gospel, chapter 6, there is an account of Jesus returning to his roots. He walked into his hometown of Nazareth, and you might say, “Amazement happened.” On the Sabbath, he began teaching in the synagogue. The wisdom of his teaching. The power of his miracles. The bible says that many who heard him were ‘amazed.’ But it wasn’t a ‘wow!’ kind of amazed. It was more of a dumb kind of amazed. They were dumbfounded, you might say. “Where,” they asked, “did he come up with all this teaching?” They didn’t need a Zoom call to see his family. They knew his momma, Mary. His dad was a plain old carpenter. And his brothers, James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. His sisters? The whole family lived in that little hamlet of Nazareth. They didn’t need an internet connection. They all were still right there in town. Nothing amazing about his family.
And the bible says those people in that town were ‘deeply offended’ and they ‘refused to believe.’ You may already know what Jesus said to them: “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And then, Mark records something else that was ‘amazing.’ He writes that “… because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”
Who were those fortunate few who werehealed? What made them so special? I believe those few people Jesus healed were astonished by his presence. They were almost speechless at his wisdom and power. Amazed, and at a loss for words, and yet asked: “Will you heal me?”
Most of the people in Nazareth were ‘deeply offended’ and they ‘refused to believe’ when Jesus came back to town. And because they didn’tbelieve, they didn’t ask him for anything. And because they didn’t ask, they didn’t receive. Who knows what Jesus would have done in Nazareth, if the people had been amazed in a different kind of way? But because that town didn’t believe … Jesus couldn’t do. That is a truly amazing statement. Because they didn’t believe, Jesus couldn’t do.
Who knows what Jesus could do in this world if people were amazed at him in a different kind of way? The world is filled with discomposed people who unashamedly act as if they are deeply offended by God’s purposes, God’s presence, God’s word. They resolutely refuse to believe. They do not accept his authority. They do not ask for his mercy. They do not receive his forgiveness. They do not see his miraculous working in their lives.
When people do not believe … Jesus cannot do.
The people of Nazareth knew Jesus very well, but they still didn’t believe. And he was amazed at their unbelief. I’ve known Jesus for a long, long time. I am determined that he will never be amazed at me and my unbelief. After all he’s done for me, unbelief would be … unbelievable.
I would never want to be guilty of something that amazing.