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Unbelief OR Unfaith?

ImageHow great is your faith or do you have “unfaith?” As Jesus returns home for the second time he follows his routine of entering the synagogue to worship. As he did on the first return visit he “began to teach.” The first visit he encountered rage but this time he encounters questions and the sin of unbelief. The Nazarenes were not held in high esteem by the rest of the nation not because of size or greatness but seen negatively because of its lack of goodness. Remember Nathanael’s statement “ Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” [Joh 1:46]

Yet Nazareth had the blessing of a synagogue and this is where we find Jesus. As the worshipers came that day the questions began to swirl —-

“Where did he get these ideas?” Yet, at age 12 he confounded the scholars with his understanding and answers because he was “THE” author and finisher of all wisdom.

“What are these miracles that are done through his hands?” Isn’t he “just a carpenter’s son?

“Isn’t this …the son of Mary?” The whisperers say—we know his background…tsk tsk tsk.

…And so they took offense at him. Are others taking offense at you as they did Christ? When you first gave your life to Christ did others ask similar questions?

Jesus reminded them that they were more willing to accept “experts” from outside than someone they knew as a trustworthy tradesman yet now whose mission was to bring the good news of life to them. And so we read: that he was amazed/marveled at their unbelief. Jesus only marveled twice in the NT, this scene and the Centurion’s faith. But here in Nazareth he marveled at their ‘unbelief,’ their unwillingness to believe the evidence that is before them. Handley Dunelm wrote “We may remark that it is a loss in our language that “unbelief” is the only word we can use as the antithesis to “faith”; for “faith” and “belief” (which see) are not exactly synonyms. “Unfaith” would be a welcome word for such use, if it were generally so understood.” It is as if we, like the ones Paul described in Romans 1, see the very clues of who God is and yet we miss them because they are so familiar to our senses. The Creator, the Giver of Life has come amongst us and as he passes by we miss him because of the repetition of the day in and day out of life.

Today as we approach Resurrection Sunday have you seen the miracle of the Godhead amongst you or have your senses become dulled to His presence? Are you guilty of unbelief or “unfaith” because Jesus has become so familiar that you miss His beauty and His love?



Today’s Devotional: From One Wilderness to Another….

ImageOne thought grabbed my attention in preparing the summary reading for today. We remember that Jesus began his public ministry after being in the wilderness for 40 days being tempted by the evil one, Satan himself. After 11 chapters of John’s observations of what transpired after that moment in time we find that the evil one is once again “ on the prowl looking for someone to devour.” [1Pet 5:8]. This time it is Jesus himself. Satan wants to destroy the very Son of God and will use the blind unbelieving Pharisees as his instruments to carry out his will, but before the Savior is brought to the cross, Jesus is once again seeking the wilderness where he can be nourished by the ones nearest and dearest to him, the disciples and His Father. 

Where do you/I seek nourishment when we know a trial is ahead? With whom do we receive refreshment?

We seem to busy ourselves but not so our Lord. He is being refreshed there for his heart is heavy. Some saw the miracle of the raising of Lazarus and gave God glory but some returned to tell the Pharisees. Why did they go? Was it purely unbelief? We may never know the true heart reason but we do then read of the prophecy given by the high priest Caiaphas: “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” Later in chapter 12 we find that the religious leaders compounded their sinful intentions by planning to kill the risen Lazarus as well.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive” [Sir. W. Scott] This is the setting in Chapter 12 as we see the web being woven to entrap and murder the miracle worker, Son of David, Son of God as well as Lazarus. In the midst of this we hear the Savior say: ““The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Although Jesus had performed and offered many signs to authenticate Himself, they still refused to believe in him. Isaiah wrote about these unbelievers saying that God has blinded their eyes, hardened their heart so that they would not see, understand with their heart, and turn to God for healing. “Jesus said in John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The unbelief of Israel is a guilty unbelief. Our unbelief is a guilty unbelief.” [Piper]

After this John notes: 12:42/43 “Nevertheless, even among the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess Jesus to be the Christ, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”

Beloved Reader, There are several unanswered questions before us: (1) Where do we find ourselves in the time of trial?  Do we retreat to the wilderness to be refreshed? (2) What about our decision to follow? Is it in a closet for fear of men or do you openly proclaim? (3)Where do we find our heart today? Are we like those who saw and believed or like the blind Pharisees and other unbelieving Jews?