Mar 6:5-6 – “He could not do any miracles there [Nazareth], except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith…” (NIV)
AMP – “And He was not able to do even one work of power there, except that He laid His hands on a few sickly people [and] cured them. And He marveled because of their unbelief (their lack of faith in Him).”
Jesus is God himself. He can do all things. He heals people who obviously have no faith in him because either they do not know him, such as the lame man in Solomon’s Portico, or because they are already dead. So why does Scripture tell us that because of their lack of faith he could do no miracles in Nazareth except to heal a few sickly people?
I think there are two possibilities…
First, it could be that he had so little time in Nazareth to do any miracles. As soon as he preached in the synagogue they immediately rebelled and tried to throw him off the cliff because of their lack of faith (Luk 4:16-30). We see this contrasted with Capernaum. He spent much time in Capernaum since it was his home base as he lived there in Peter’s home. And since he was there much of the time he had time to do many miracles.
Second, this passage could be telling us something more intrinsic in how God chooses to work miracles. It could be that God in some way ties the working of miracles to our response. As a similar example, compare this idea with how God works through prayer. God commands us to pray for his will to be done, and in some mysterious way he frequently does not act according to his will until we have prayed for it. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that for some reason he chooses to require our involvement, almost like a partnership. So could the Lord’s “inability” to perform miracles, such as what happened in Nazareth, be somehow tied to our response?
I don’t have a rock-solid answer on this. What I do know, though, is when I go out to pray for sick and hurting people I see God instantly heal many of them. But what has always baffled me is how some people have seemingly the same issue as another person, yet one person is healed and the other is not. Why is that?
Could this passage help unlock a key to one of God’s spiritual truths in how he chooses to operate — a “spiritual law” of some sort as Paul talks about in Romans 7? Is there something about those in Nazareth whose lack of faith prevented the God of the universe from doing any miracle there?
In a sense, there are three degrees of faith. You have faith (belief), you don’t have faith (lack of belief), and you reject faith (unbelief).
And while the passage is clear there that healing is a form of miracle (“Jesus could do no mighty miracles except heal a few sick people”), healing seems to be on the lower end of the “mighty miracles.” For simplicity sake, if we equate “healing” with “miracle,” we start to see some possible understanding of what could have happened in Nazareth … and how it can apply to our lives today.
There are many times when Jesus heals people who have faith (belief). Every time someone came to Jesus for healing they had faith that he could — that’s why they came to him in the first place. And everyone who came to him he healed.
Then you have those who have no faith (lack of belief). It’s not that they rejected Jesus, they just did not know who Jesus was and therefore could have no faith in him. For example, the lame man in Solomon’s Portico whom Jesus healed by the pool who did not know who healed him. Or the blind man Jesus healed in the temple and when asked who healed him he replied, “I don’t know.” Or the dead man in the town of Nain whom Jesus raised from the dead. Jesus performed miracles in these people even though they did not have faith.
But then you have those in Nazareth. It’s not that they had no faith, it’s that they rejected faith (unbelief). They knew who Jesus was. They heard of the miracles he had performed. Yet they rejected him. So could it be that it was their rejection that “prevented” Jesus from being able to perform many miracles there?
And if that is the case, then what is the implication for us? I think the implication could be profound. It could be that God is showing us he has great blessings in store for us but we must have faith (belief) to receive those blessings (much like we must have faith to receive the blessing of eternal life). If we refuse to have faith that the blessings are true then have we not rejected them… and therefore could we actually be preventing ourselves from receiving them?
Reference a few other similar truths we see in Scripture… Jesus says that when we pray, we must believe we have already received it before it will be granted us. In other words, we must have faith to receive it. In Acts 14 Paul is preaching and looks intently at a lame man and sees he has faith to be healed. So he tells him to stand up and be healed, and he was. It was his faith that allowed him to be healed.
So while we don’t know exactly why Jesus could not do many miracles in Nazareth, I believe it could be pointing to the fact that what we believe or reject plays a significant part in whether or not we receive the miraculous in our lives … or not.