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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wondering at Unbelief


Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)


So I’m reading Mark’s gospel about the synagogue official named Jairus. You might remember the story, how he begged Jesus to heal his daughter. As they journeyed to his house, some neighbors arrived to tell Jairus, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” (Mark 5:35-43).

But Jesus overheard the message and said to him: “Trust Me.”
I’m not sure how I would have responded to Jesus’ comment, but Jairus and the Lord continued on their way. They arrived to a house filled with mourners wringing their hands and loudly wailing. But Jesus said to them, “Why are you weeping and making a commotion? The child has not died, but is asleep.”

They, of course, didn’t know Jesus as I know Him -- or as we in the 21st century Church know Him. They were unaware of His deity, His power. His authority. And so, instead of taking Him at His word, they laughed at Him. They probably thought, “We know a corpse from a sleeping child, Carpenter! You’re mad.” But Jesus sent the naysayers out of the house. Every one of them. Then He brought the child’s parents into the bedroom, took the child’s cold hand and commanded: “Little girl, arise!”

And the child opened her eyes.

Would we expect anything different?  When the Resurrection and the Life says to the dead, “Arise” – death itself is powerless over its prey.

Then I moved to the next chapter, chapter six. The Lord is in his home town of Nazareth.  His former neighbors and friends, astonished at his teaching, said to each other, “Isn’t this the same guy who grew up in this neighborhood? Don’t we know his mother, brothers and sisters? Who does he think he is, anyway?”

They, of course, didn’t know Jesus any better than those in Jairus' house knew Him. They also were unaware of His deity. His power. His authority. And so, they scoffed at Him.

But Jesus responded, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his household.” Unfortunately for the sick, the desperate, the frightened, the helpless in Nazareth, Jesus could perform only a few miracles there. “And He wondered at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:1-6)

Those who know me well know I’m often a “glass half-empty” kind of guy. I don’t like to be that way. I'm tired of being that way. I can’t count the number of times the Lord has reminded me of His absolute power over all creation. I know of His deity, His power. His authority. Angels and demons are inescapably subject to His will; How much more those made of flesh and blood? But so often all I see are the giants in the land, the troubles extending to the horizon. Problems in the nation. Problems in the Church. Problems in the family. Problems with health. Problems. Problems.

I wonder if Jesus sent the naysayers out of Jairus’ house because their lack of faith – their negative faith – would have hurt the fledgling faith of Jairus and his wife, and thereby altered the outcome of His work there – just as negative faith kept Him from working miracles in His hometown.   

And yet here I am, a man who likes to think of himself as a man of faith, a man of Scripture, and man of prayer, who nonetheless looks at the giants around us and not only cries out, “The sky is falling!” but passes my negative faith on to others.

Lord, forgive me. And you whom I may have discouraged, please forgive me.

Did not God speak through the prophet Isaiah saying the nations themselves are like a drop from a bucket? Like a speck of dust on the scales? All the nations and all their inhabitants – kings and princes, presidents and prime ministers, dictators and despots – are all of them, each of them, are regarded by God as less than nothing and meaningless. (Isaiah 40:15-17)

Maybe this time, after reading those chapters in Mark’s gospel, I have at last learned that lesson. Oh, Lord! May I not, from this time forth, give You reason to wonder at my unbelief.

4 comments:

Holly Michael said...

Thanks for sharing. He can do so much through us. We just have to lift our hands and say, "Here I am, Lord." Also, Rich, did you hear about the movie Corpus Christi. My husband blogged about it on his blog, asking for Christians to speak up: www.episcoblog.org
Oh and remember Jake, who you have been praying about. I blogged today about giving him to God: www.writingstraight.com

Richard Maffeo said...

Thank, Holly. I responded to your post about Jake. I guess you haven't seen it yet. Also, the episcoblog address links to something other than your husband's blog. Is that the correct address?

Anonymous said...

Great lesson for all of us, Rich. Thanks for the reminder, and your fhumanity. Greater is he that is in us, than he who is in the world.

Richard Maffeo said...

Anonymous, thanks for commenting. Yes, greater is He in us than he in the world!