Just last week we heard the story of Jesus bringing the dead daughter of Jarius back to life. This week we hear that he could not perform any mighty deeds in his home town of Nazareth. If he is God Almighty who calmed storms, raised the dead, cast out demons and healed every disease why wasn’t it possible for God to once again give sight to the blind and work other miraculous healings. The gospel says it was their lack of faith that prevented Jesus from performing mighty deeds. Yet in the story of Jarius’ daughter, the crowd wailing outside the home of Jarius “ridiculed him (Jesus)” when he said she was not dead. They certainly did not believe Jesus could do anything to help Jarius’ little girl.
This gospel story today begins with his hometown people astonished with his ability to teach with wisdom. They had an intimate knowledge of him growing up as Mary’s son and as the carpenter. That description of him gives you an impression that they viewed Jesus as an ordinary person. That is exactly how the Prophet Isiah describes him; “there was in him no….appearance that would attract us to him” (Is 53:2). To all in the village he would have been just an obedient hard working youth growing into manhood.
But is their belief in who he was or was not enough for God to not be able to work might deeds? He certainly battled evil forces before entering Nazareth and overcame them time and time again. Can the power of God not break through disbelief? Of course it can and does and we have seen it in the stories of countless believers. We saw it in the story of Jarius and in the story of Paul’s conversion.
What is your image of Jesus? Do we simply acknowledge him as Son of God or does that reality demand from us a greater respond to him? Here is a scriptural truth from the word of God: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your hearts that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:10). God has given us this truth and he gives us the freedom to accept, reject or delay our accepting it. Our difficulty is we are just like those in the story who know him but we have put certain limitations on God. We will not let God surprise us by doing or accepting from him anything that does not fit our understanding of who he is.
How can we ever become “water walkers” like Peter if we do not first hear and then respond to the invitation to come to him? How can we invite Jesus into our lives to bring to life what is dead in us if we are afraid of what we might become – active, vibrant believers who understand “the greatness of his power at work among us who believe” (Ep. 1:19). I am sure Peter was not overly confident as he took that first step out of the boat. I am sure the disciples looking at 5,000 hungry followers were not overly confident as they took a few pieces from 5 loaves and two fish to the hungry crowd. So exercising our faith does depend on a belief in what Jesus has promised us.
That kind of belief provides us with a confidence to open ourselves to the blessings of God and witness the power of God. That kind of belief allows us to hear the voice of God speaking to us and motivates us to remove the barriers we have erected between ourselves and God.
We can fool ourselves with the notion that we are happy, successful people in life, work and faith. We can avoid the reality that we are driven by a hunger for something we know is missing in our lives. We can have our lives ordered, predictable and on track to achieve all we set out to accomplish. We can believe have control of our destiny and here comes Jesus with an invitation to give him control by surrendering everything to him. His invitation to you and I is to allow him to show us a better way to be fulfilled. Frankly, that scared me and I know it scares everyone who has not yet surrendered.
But the invitation is there and sometimes we say yes in small ways before we make the ultimate total surrender of our lives. Sometimes we say no in small ways while still maintaining the illusion of control of our lives. Then there are times when we just say no to God. That was the response he received that day in Nazareth. But since God tells us he knows our words before we utter them (Ps. 139:4) why did he go to Nazareth when he knew the outcome. He went there for you and me to learn a spiritual truth.
God offers us a life of joy, peace and a certainty that with him all things are possible. He offers us all of that if we just embrace his Son. The Lord offers it to us but we need to let God be God and allow him full access to our heart, mind and soul. The psalmist tells us we will stand in awe at the things God does among us (Ps. 65:8). Isn’t it time for us to be awed by allowing God to do wonders in our life that awe us. Let’s us give God free reign in our lives and learn to know him as Lord instead of just as Mary’s son, the carpenter from Nazareth.