November 23: The Anatomy of Unbelief (Matt 13:53-58)
And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. (ESV)
Jesus enters his hometown and begins teaching them, but sensing their independence and identity to be threatened by Jesus' claim to be the Messiah, the Jews of Nazareth bitterly reject him. They resisted God's revelation of Christ, failing to heed all the warnings of the parables in Matthew 13. They don't have ears to hear. They don't eyes to see. And the result of the unbelief is that Jesus doesn't do very many mighty works among them (v. 58). They miss God's blessing. They miss the treasure buried in the field (v. 44) and never find the pearl of great price (v. 45). Rather, they become the weeds that are bound together and burned (vv. 41-43). They are the fish that are cast into the fiery furnace (13:49-50). Thus they experience not only temporary lack of blessing, but also eternal judgement. Consider the great cost of unbelief, and evaluate what Jesus might think of the condition of your faith toward him.
Review and Apply
- What were the reasons for the unbelief (lack of faith) of the Jews in Jesus' home town? How do you see these patterns of unbelief in your own life?
- Can you identify some decisions or behavioral patterns in which you are actively submitting to Jesus by faith?
- As you evaluate your own life, do you think that your knowledge about Jesus on the one hand, and your obedience to Jesus on the other hand are balanced or imbalanced? Explain your answer. What might this reveal about your faith in Jesus?
- What have you experienced as costs of unbelief in your own life, at times when you have failed to believe the promises of God or obey the commands of God?
- What are some ways that faith might be nurtured, generally speaking? In what areas do you in particular need to give attention to nurturing faith? In other words, what means of grace have you neglected in the pursuit of faith?