After Jesus’ parables about the kingdom which we have looked at these last weeks, Jesus moves to his hometown (Matthew 13v53-58). Their first response is inquisitive, “Where did he get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?”, but the story’s conclusion is an indictment, “he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Let’s look at what this lack of faith looked like:
1) Pride – They were familiar with his family, his background and his trade. This knowledge meant that they wanted to put Jesus in a box which was the same box they were limited by. They wanted to hold Jesus back at their level. It is pride that holds other people back in our minds. If they were from the same background, there was no reason that Jesus should be able to do so much more than them. It is not faith that matters, but what we put our faith in (having a lot of faith in a pigeon to fly you to France will not get you far, but a little bit of faith in a plane will get you a long way). Their faith was in fact in their background and family: by nature, we are inclined to put our faith in ourselves, our background, our circumstance. We need to have humility to shift from this faith, to a faith in Jesus Christ.
2) Rationalism – They conduct a scientific enquiry – What skills did he learn? What DNA did he have? What are the other samples like (i.e. his brothers and sisters)? – and conclude there is no “logical” reason for this power and therefore dismiss it despite evidence to the contrary. This a pride in the human intellect which results in questions being asked only from a “scientific” (maybe materialistic is a better word) point of view. This is extraordinary given these were Jews who, theoretically at least, believed in the power of God. Their questions were valid (scientific enquiry is good), but their faith was invalid as it rested on the answers they could give from a materialistic viewpoint.
3) Offence – their pride which wanted to consider Jesus only to be equal with them led to them being offended by Jesus. This is almost unbelievable: and yet, do we ever feel offended by those who are able to do what we cannot. This is a negative emotional response based on their faith in their own judgement. It is not a helpful faith!
The result is that despite their clear knowledge that Jesus did miracles, they were not able to receive many. What a loss L.
So, pride leads to faith in ourselves, and faith in ourselves leads to rationalism, and rationalism leads to offence when faith in God is exercised, and the result in this episode is that “Jesus did not do many miracles there”. The term ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ comes to mind – discount it and you won’t experience it. Are there self-fulfilling prophecies that I am entertaining?
By the grace of God, may we be set free from pride in all its forms, and released into a humility which acknowledges the practical power of God and prepares the way for miracles.
With much blessing,