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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by William A. Kolb

Saturday, May 23

Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.
—Mark 6:4-5

Jesus visits his childhood hometown of Nazareth. Whereas he is honored and revered by people in other places, in Nazareth the residents question how he can be so special. They remember him and his family from years before, and think of him as just one of them, just an ordinary person. That leads Jesus to say the things quoted above from the Gospel of St. Mark.

Over the years, commentaries on this passage have emphasized the difficulty we face in being recognized by our own people, our own family. Yet I notice something else as well.

Even at his worst, even when Jesus is unable to exercise his full presence because of the unbelief of his people, he can still lay his hands on “a few” sick people and cure them. How amazing. This is portrayed in Mark as a failure!

If I, or someone I loved, were one of “the few,” I surely wouldn’t see Jesus’ healing powers as having failed. Jesus may be able to help us at any time, under any circumstances.

And note that the limits on Jesus’ healing power are a result of the peoples’ “unbelief.” Jesus gives us a lot of freedom, and, for good or ill, that freedom means that he will not force himself upon us.

But if we turn our back on him, or close our heart to him, we are much less likely to experience his presence or his healing. When we take that leap of faith, when we decide to believe (faith can be an act of our will), we open ourselves to all of Jesus’ healing power.

Lord Jesus, help me experience the gift of faith. Amen

This Signpost originally appeared on explorefaith in 2007.