After presenting a powerful teaching to His disciples concerning
the Kingdom, Jesus left Galilee and traveled 20 miles west — home to
Nazareth. In Nazareth, unbelief filled the hearts of His countrymen.
Matthew ends this chapter saying of Jesus, ‘He did not many mighty
works there because of their unbelief.’
In recording the same
incident, Mark takes it a step further when he writes, ‘He could do no
mighty works there because of their unbelief.’ It is not simply that
Jesus would do no mighty works in Nazareth. Mark tells us He could do
no mighty works there. He was limited by their unbelief, even as the
Old Testament declares that the people of Israel limited the Holy One
of Israel through their unbelief (Psalm 78:41).
Unbelief is hazardous to your health. In this passage, we see it
affecting people in three ways:
Unbelief Blinds Your Eyes
'And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their
synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath
this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?' Matthew 13:54
Miracles were happening — the dead were raised, the lame were
walking, the blind were seeing, the deaf were hearing. It was obvious
God was working. But unbelief blinds eyes to the obvious. People are
still blinded today, even though it is obvious God is real.
up . . . On a clear night, you can see the Milky Way galaxy,
consisting of 400 billion stars. Traveling at tremendous speed, the
Milky Way swirls within itself as it is hurled across the universe —
all 400 billion stars. Astronomers tell us there are at least 100
billion more galaxies each containing at least 100 billion stars.
you compute that out, it comes to 10 billion billion stars spinning
around and moving through the universe. 10 billion billion — that’s
more Big Macs than McDonalds serves in a year! And when you add the
planets which circle many of these stars, the figures get even more
‘My, it must be crowded up there,’ you say. Well, state
your coordinates and choose a point. Even though there are 10 billion
billion stars with billions of planets around them, what are the
chances of your point landing on a star, a planet, a comet, or an
asteroid? The chances are 1 in 10 to the 38th power, or one in a
billion trillion trillion — not very good odds. Space is huge, gang —
enormous beyond our comprehension.
And yet people have the audacity,
the stupidity, the idiocy to say, ‘Well it just sort of all
happened.’ Truly, ‘the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,’
I recently talked with an atheist who said, ‘Jon, I hear
all of your statistics on space and I hear all of your illustrations
on creation, but it still doesn’t prove God exists. I would believe in
God if He would prove His existence.’ ‘Well, we have a problem here,’
I said, ‘because if God proved His existence, you couldn’t be a
believer. You might be a follower, but you couldn’t be a believer, for
if God proved Himself, there would be no faith required.’
interested in developing your faith because faith is what is going to
move on with you in the ages to come. He has given you evidence and
indications, but He has not given you proof because if He gave you
proof, you could never be a believer.
Unbelief Poisons Our Hearts
Unbelief not only the blinds our eyes, which resulted in
skepticism, but poisons our hearts, which resulted
in cynicism . . .
Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and
his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters,
are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
And they were offended in Him . . . Matthew 13:55-57
`When a person will not believe, his heart will inevitably become
poisoned towards the family of God . . . ‘Isn’t his dad a carpenter —
just an ordinary carpenter? He’s not a scholar nor a rabbi, a mystic
nor a miracle worker. We know his dad, he’s the carpenter. And Mary?
We’ve heard about her problem. She was pregnant before she got
You see, the unbeliever will always attack the family of
God. His heart will become poisoned as he points out the problems of
the Jim Bakkers or the Jimmy Swaggerts or the Christian neighbor. He
will point out problems in the family, even though, like those in
Nazareth, his facts may be wrong. Since no one — not even the most
avowed atheist or skeptical cynic — has ever been able to find one
single fault with Christ, they’ll attack His family . . .
‘Can you believe what a joke that minister on TV is?’
‘Look at those hypocrites at church.’ ‘Some Christian she is . .
And their hearts become cynical, hardened, and bitter.
Unbelief Robs You of Your Joy
And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
When Jesus went to His home town, He would have healed many if they
would have believed. Great joy would have filled that little hamlet of
Nazareth. But God will not work outside the arena of faith. God has
chosen to limit Himself in certain ways. And because they didn’t
believe, He couldn’t work. As a result, miracles were missing.
Healings weren’t happening. Joy wasn’t exploding. Unbelief is
hazardous to your health. It blinds your eyes; it poisons your heart;
it steals your joy.
What is the antidote for unbelief? What would the
Great Physician prescribe to you and to me who, although we are
believers in Jesus, are also guilty of limiting Him?
antidote for the unbelief which results in blinded eyes is simply to
offer prayer to God.
Paul did this when, in Ephesians 1, he prayed for
the believers at Ephesus — that their eyes might be enlightened. You
see, faith is not blind. Faith sees what unbelief never will.
reminded of the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6 . . . As the Syrians
waged war against the Jews, the King of Syria set an ambush for the
Israelites. Elisha sent word to the King of Israel saying, ‘Don’t go
through that pass. You’ll walk into a Syrian ambush.’ The King of
Syria then set a second ambush and again the Lord spoke to Elisha the
prophet, who, in turn, warned the king to avoid the area.
After the third time, the king of Syria said, ‘Someone is spying
and I want his head.’ One of his advisers said, ‘King, there’s no spy
in our midst. There’s a prophet in their land. His name is Elisha. He
knows everything you say — even what you say in your bedchamber.’
‘Where is this man Elisha?’ barked the King. ‘In Dothan,’ answered his
That same night, the Syrians surrounded the city of Dothan
with soldiers, chariots, and armaments. The next morning, when Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, woke up, he ran to his master, shouting,
‘Master! We’re surrounded! We’re through! We’re history!’ Elisha
answered him, ‘Gehazi, they that are with us are more than they that
are with them. Lord, open his eyes that he might see.’
And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw; and,
behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round
about Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17
Elisha wasn’t worried because faith sees what unbelief never will.
Secondly, the antidote for the unbelief which results in a bitter
heart is to see people in God.
Paul said, ‘I know no man after the
flesh,’ (2 Corinthians 5:16). In other words, ‘I see people in Christ
— washed in His blood, robed in His righteousness. That’s the way I
choose to see people.’ When you see people in God, suddenly you’re not
so cynical. You can just embrace, love, and enjoy them.
Thirdly, for the unbelief which robs you of joy —
speak the promises of God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that
cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of
them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6
There are many ways to please God — but not one apart from faith.
'The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that
is, the word of faith, which we preach: That if thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that
God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.' Romans 10:8-9
Faith is worked into our lives by God’s Word. It is released from
our lives by our spoken word. It’s not enough to have a quiet,
internal faith. Faith is released via the mouth.
Jesus said, ‘When you
see an obstacle in front of you, a mountain looming before you, a
problem facing you, say to the mountain, ‘Be removed’ and it shall be
removed,’ (Matthew 17:20). Speak the praises of God. Scripture is
packed with promises — over 3,000 in number — a promise for every
Perhaps you have a difficulty in your life, a problem in
your family, a hardship financially or vocationally, tough times in
school or in friendship. Jesus desires to work in those situations. He
really does. But we limit Him by unbelief.
God wants us to speak His
promises because it’s too easy for us to say, ‘Well, I’ve got some
ideas and thoughts, some hopes and dreams, but I’m not going to go on
record verbally lest I seem foolish.’ Once you have the promise of God
in your heart, you need to release it via your mouth. Speak out that
which has been worked in.
You will either venture out in faith, or you
will vegetate. Your Christian life will either grow in faith as you
see wonderful things happen in your family, in your ministry, in your
life personally — or you will shrink into a churchianity. God forbid.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word
of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do
appear. Hebrews 11:3
Hebrews says the worlds were framed by the word of God. When we
construct a house, we don't just put up one wall and say, ‘Let’s move
in.’ No, we put up all the walls in order that there might be
protection, symmetry, and balance. So too with God. When He framed the
world, it was framed in totality.
Therefore, we need to be students of
His Word so we don’t just put up one wall in our house of faith and
say, ‘Well, now, this is the way it has to be. I’m claiming the
No, solid faith, real faith, balanced faith comes by hearing
the Word — not simply an isolated verse here or there.
As I study the
Word, my focus changes. It’s no longer me clenching my fists and
gritting my teeth, saying, ‘I’m gonna trust or bust.’
No, my focus
shifts from my faith to the Faithful One — Jesus Christ.
I don’t know
what struggle you might have, what difficulty you might face — but I
know where the answer lies. It lies in the Faithful One, Jesus Christ.
Begin to venture out radically and watch what the Lord does joyfully.
He wants to come into your Nazareth and do a mighty work.