Jesus Couldn't Do It

Did the subject line give you pause? I know it made me look twice when I initially read it. In my personal study and prayer time, I’ve been reading the Gospel according to Mark. As I read the first section of the 6th chapter, I found myself reading the words Jesus “could not.” I thought to myself… “Wait. That can’t be right. Jesus could not?” So I read it again…

Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”  - Mark 6:4-6

Astonishing, right? The Bible actually says Jesus wasn’t able to do miracles that He apparently wanted to do in His hometown. The Bible says the people didn’t believe in His authority or what He was saying to them. So, Jesus couldn’t.

When I read this I found myself wondering, how could it this be? How could Jesus’ ability to work be limited by anything? Is this a question of his power? That can’t be so. Jesus is the physical manifestation of God on earth - that means His power was limitless. So, no. This couldn’t be a revelation of Jesus (read God,) somehow not having ability or power to do something. Jesus is omnipotent - all powerful. 

So what is this? Why is it that Jesus couldn’t?

To put this in perspective, we take a look back into Mark 5 and the story of a sick woman who snuck into a crowd to touch Jesus and be healed of a sickness she’d had for over a decade. This is clearly an instance where Jesus could because the Bible says the woman was made whole. So, why is it that Jesus could for this lady, but He couldn’t  for the people back in Nazareth? If I’m reading this the right way, it’s because of a key word in both of these passages - in the story of the sick lady and in the story of His visit to His hometown. That word is faith.   

Jesus tells the sick woman “your faith has made you well.” (Mark 5:34). In other words, “I was able to heal you because of your faith.” In the story of His visit to his hometown, the Bible says there was a lack of faith. In fact, there was such an absence of faith that Jesus was “astonished.” (Mark 6:6). This is the difference between instances where Jesus could do miraculous things and instances where Jesus couldn’t do the miraculous things He wanted to do for people. 

Okay. So, this leads to another question, right? If your brain is like mine, then the next question is this: does faith make Jesus able? I prayed about this and this is what I got from my prayers…

Think about these three things: an electrical power station, a power line and a house. The power station is fully functional and it generating copious amounts of power. The power line connects the power station to the house; it provides a causeway for the power to move through. The house receives the power from the station through the power line, and enjoys the benefits of the electricity. If the house is not connected through the line, it doesn’t mean that the power station is somehow deficient! It means the owner of the house needs to tap into the power source!

To use Jesus’ own language: such is the kingdom of God!

God is the source of all power. When the Bible said Jesus “could not,” it isn’t because of a lack of His capacity. He was and is infinitely powerful! The issue was a lack of connection. In His hometown, there was no connection to the power source. Jesus “could not” because they would not connect with Him. Faith is the power line and they had no faith; no connection. So, much like the house who’s owner refuses to connect to the power supply, the people is Jesus’ hometown remained in the dark about who He was and what He could do for them. For the sick woman in the crowd, the opposite was true. Jesus could act on her behalf because she made a decision to connect to His capacity and power through faith.

Now, you and I may not be as disconnected as the people in Jesus’ hometown were, but I’ll speak for myself and say there are certain areas of my life that are disconnected. To continue with the power supply analogy, my house is connected but I haven’t plugged in all of my appliances! 

As we move through this week, let’s take a look around our lives. If we pay attention, I think we can find some stuff that needs to be plugged in. Maybe we need to plug in our financial appliance. Maybe we need to plug in our relationship appliances. Maybe we need to plug in our professional appliances.

Our God is a limitless supply of power. He is infinitely able. The question regarding what God can do in our lives is not at all a question of His capacity to do. It is a question of our willingness to connect to Him through faith. 

Here are some questions to help with our considerations this week: 

  • Is my proverbial “house” really connected to the source - God’s power - through faith?
  • If my “house” is connected to the power source, are all of my appliances plugged in? Are there areas of my life where I am operating without faith? 
  • Am I working harder to do things and make things happen in my life because I won't connect my life appliances to God's power supply? 
  • If all of the "appliances" in my life aren't plugged in, what might my life look like if I was to connect some of them to God's power through faith?