The Unbelief of “Believers” | Mark 6:4–6
4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
Others marveled at Christ (5:20; 15:5), but here, Christ is astounded at faithlessness amid His truth and verifiable miracles. Last time, we considered the scandal of Christ, that He brings the truth too near to bear on the collective soul of Nazarene people. They knew Him as a child, so they couldn’t believe that He had the power to heal, even though they were witnessing it firsthand. The bigger stumbling block was that He now preached repentance and belief in His gospel message (1:14–15; 6:2). Their initial excitement faded to offense. They may have believed in God, but they disbelieved they needed to apply His message.
They disbelieved by not coming to Him. We never read that faith was a prerequisite for Jesus’s miracles—He even raised a dead girl who would be unable to exercise faith! Yet, in Nazareth, we read that He “could do no mighty work there, except… a few” (v. 5). In other words, in cities like Capernaum where He’d essentially eradicated all sickness, relatively few Nazarenes came to Him to be healed. Sure, they’re near Jesus in proximity or by blood, but their hearts are far (cf. Mt 15:8).
They disbelieved by rejecting His message. In v. 4, He places Himself on par with the prophets, and He was indeed recognized by others as a prophet (v. 15; 8:28; Mt 21:11, 46; Lk 7:16; 24:19; Jn 6:14; 7:40; 9:17). However, He implies that He’s without honor, for His own family thought He’d lost His mind (3:21; cf. Jn 7:5). Now, their embarrassment turns to outright rejection.
Thankfully, none are too far or too near for Him to save. His family would eventually believe. After He appeared resurrected to His brother (1 Cor 15:7), His family joined the disciples “with one accord” in prayer (Acts 1:14). James and Judas (Jude) would pen the New Testament books bearing their names, and James even became the leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13; Gal 1:19). He saves those who grew up with Him, such as in church, who previously never came to Him. Repent and believe today.