Leap of faith without a net makes us want to hedge our bet / Waters never part until our feet get wet – Petra, Beyond Belief, from the 1990 album of the same title
The Christ has finished with His Kingdom parables for now and returns to His hometown of Nazareth. Why the trip home? Maybe He is nostalgic. Maybe He is also checking in with family that resides there. We don’t know as Matthew doesn’t say. But at some point, He makes His way to the local synagogue and begins teaching. The reaction from the parishioners is interesting. On one hand, most of them are amazed at His teaching and wonder, “Where does He get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” (v. 54b). But then they start thinking about who Jesus is – someone they’ve known since He was a toddler and whose family still lives in town – and “they were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him” (v. 57).
Seems like an extreme reaction to me. But that’s how Jesus rolls. Most people are drawn to Him but there are those who are simply repelled for some reason. In this case, I believe the townsfolk of Nazareth are too close to the situation. “Jesus had come to them as a prophet, one who challenged them to respond to unpopular spiritual truth. They did not listen to the timeless message because they could not see beyond the man” (Study Bible, p. 1571). And I wonder how often that still happens today; people can’t see the Savior because they are too hung up on the historical figure. Or they don’t believe in the historical figure. It’s probably more the latter.
And why not? Look at who His representatives on earth are today. You and I – and a bunch of old white men who seek power in political climates rather than in spiritual realms. I wouldn’t believe in us either. In their 1995 song “What if I Stumble”, the Christian rock group DC Talk makes the following statement:
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable”.
And they’re right. Look at how hard it is to convince people that Jesus is who He says He is when He’s performing miracles to back up His claims right in front of them. Forget our sloppy Christian lives today. “Unbelief blinds people to the truth and robs them of hope” (Study Bible, p. 1571). The people of Jesus’ day missed the Messiah standing right in front of them because they were too hung up on His past. How are people of today missing the Messiah in us?
The question we need to ask ourselves is how are we measuring up? Do we miss God’s work in the world because of our unbelief or our mistaken beliefs? What do you think God would accomplish in the world through us if we simply stepped out and went beyond belief? If we really lived what we said we believed? How many waters would part if we simply got our feet wet?
Or maybe you’re on the outside looking in and wondering what all the hype is about. You don’t see miracles because of your unbelief. You are more like the townsfolk of Nazareth. I’m not sure what it would take to convince them (or anyone) of who Jesus is. The late C.S. Lewis once said there are only four possibilities when it comes to the Christ:
He’s a legend (meaning He never really existed)
He’s a liar (because He claimed to be the Messiah and knew He was not)
He’s a lunatic (because He claimed to be the Messiah, thought He was but was not)
Or He is Lord (He is who He claimed to be).
It’s a decision that we have to make for ourselves. We can’t force it on other people (though there are plenty of people in the world today who are trying to do just that). All we can do is live it out to the best of our abilities. All we can do is go beyond belief. Take that leap of faith. Go on and hedge your bet. This gamble pays off in big ways.