And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief (Mark 6:5-6 ESV).
Gather in the implications of these two verses: The people's lack of faith prevented Jesus from doing any great thing among them!
Notice, Mark did not say, "He would not do any mighty work there…" No, Mark was emphatic: He could not do any mighty work there…"
Hmm? How is this so? In the previous paragraphs, Jesus had stilled a raging and out-of-control storm, cast out a legion of demons out of a man, healed an incurable blood disorder, and raised a dead little girl back to live (Mark 4:35-5:42). In short order, he triumphed over four primordial human fears of the deep, demons, disease, and death. In the paragraphs after Jesus' temporary "power outage," he fed the five thousand, walked on water to comfort his fearful apostles, and healed multitudes of sick people (Mark 6:30-56).
So, why could he not do any mighty work there?
Notice where Jesus is. He is in his home region, in his hometown, among his own people, and where his own family lived (Mark 6:1, 4). They thought they knew who Jesus was and had very meager expectations for what Jesus could be able to do, so they stumbled over the possibility that he could do any mighty work there (Mark 6:2-3)!
So, let's move from a simple little history lesson to opening our hearts to the Spirit's message for us in this Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-17). That means asking some hard questions and listening for the Spirit's voice in our hearts.
Who are the people in Jesus' household and family today? Us! People who call themselves disciples, Christians, followers of Jesus, and the church. People who hang up little Bible sayings in our houses or have them as magnets on our fridge, things like:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).
If we are honest, we are thrilled when Jesus heals a few people among us of their diseases when we pray for them — similar to those among Jesus' disbelieving family, relatives, and friends in his hometown (Mark 6:5). We assume those answered prayers are possible yet don't expect much more of the Lord, especially not immeasurably more...!
We are the people who think they know Jesus. We know who Jesus is; he is the Son of God, Savior, Christ, and Lord. We love him and believe in him, because of the great things he did years ago when he was here on earth. Now, however, we have grown too familiar with the low expectations of Jesus in our churches!
We become anesthetized to great expectations because of the watered-down version of Jesus we heard taught and preached in our churches — a mighty Jesus of long ago and far away, now just a storybook Jesus who never comes our way. We have grown calloused to the living Lord that longs to do so much more among us, through us, and with us. We don't recognize the great things Jesus longs to do among us, through us, and with us, because we lost our urgency and expectation for what Jesus longs to do. When we finally do ask for Jesus' help, we ask selfishly for our own self-interest and not to be propelled into his mission (James 4:2-3).
If we long to be JesuShaped disciples, we must take this episode from Jesus' ministry to heart. We need to realize that Jesus DOES LONG TO DO MORE among us, through us, and with us. Yes, even more than we can begin to ask or imagine. Unfortunately, our low expectations and our low commitment to the work of Jesus limit the Lord in what he can do among us. Are we not willing to be vessels used by the Lord because we don't believe fully in him?
Ouch. That's too convicting, so let's move on to something less challenging.
When we choose to be JesuShaped, we also choose to believe in Jesus for the more he longs to do among, through, and with us. We choose to expect more! We must not limit Jesus because of our familiarity with him from Churchland, and our low commitment to his mission, along with our lower expectations for ourselves.
Why? Because JesuShaped people expectantly believe that Jesus can do more than we can ask or imagine, they make themselves available, trusting that their Lord will do more!