My earliest days of skepticism over the Christian faith began in middle school, possibly earlier. I remember thinking to myself, “Jesus if you could just show up right now or if you could just perform some sort of miracle, there would be no question about my faith in you.” I wonder if you have ever put yourself in this position. I like to think of it as the “if only” mentality. “If only Jesus did this”, “If only God didn’t do this,” “If only God showed me this” ended with a “then I would believe” as if God obeys you.
The life of Jesus is recorded in the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the books of the Bible. Every time I decide to read one of the gospels over again there is this one particular recurring theme that is brought up again and again: unbelief when His miracles are evident.
“He left there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom that has been given to him, and how are these miracles performed by his hands? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” So they were offended by him.4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his household.” 5 He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. He was going around the villages teaching.” Mark 6:1-6
Before I continue, there is so much to unpack with that section of Mark, but that’s for you to do friends. Understand the significance of verse 4. Understand the word, “thaumazo” which means to marvel or to stand amazed. This is one of two times where that word is used in the perspective of Jesus. In this case, He marveled at their unbelief. From my understanding, again, I’m just an engineering student, but I take it as Jesus marveled at their unbelief because His miracles were unquestionable. He was right there in front of them. He performed signs and miracles yet people still chose not to believe.
From the gospel of John we see the love, grace and truth of Jesus as He speaks:
31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.41 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” John 5:31-47
I deeply encourage you to read the context and especially the beginning 31 verses before moving on. What I believe is one of the greatest pains caused by the church is due to the fact that we take Scripture out of context and choose to go about a “pick and choose” version of the Bible. There is so much to unpack. Read it, ask questions, and better interpret it. This is a challenge to you. Jesus was direct. Jesus spoke truth. Christian, take note of this.
I read about this and I question my ways of thinking. I’ll give you the inside scoop on my prayer life. To my friends that do not believe, I constantly ask that the Holy Spirit draws on their hearts and I ask that God works a miracle in their lives. My thought process is if God can do the illogical and unthinkable, they will fall to their knees and confess that Jesus is Lord. If God worked a wondrous miracle in their life, that’d be it, they would believe, repent and accept. But I read the gospels and I see that’s not true.
Even Judas Iscariot, right? I often just think of him as the traitor but I forget that he was one of the twelve disciples. He was there with Jesus every single day. He who saw so many miracles and heard so much of the teachings of Jesus yet still chose to not believe Jesus as the Messiah. That baffles me.
I am humbly reminded that regardless of the science and history that clearly point to Jesus as Lord, I cannot convince everyone, nor is that my job. I often give people too much credit when in reality it is the work of the Holy Spirit when someone gives their life to Christ. Some people will choose to not believe the clear evidence of Jesus and if I am honest I lament over that. I deeply hope I see everyone in Heaven, but I know that is not the case. So what now?
With all that being said, I remind the Christian, particularly the one that stares back at me in the mirror to remember that when people decide to give their life to Christ, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit, not you, Kira. My job is to share the gospel and tell the world about this Jesus. That does not change. My job here is to point to Jesus and all of Jesus. I believe that means sharing the entire Scripture, not just the feel-good passages. I pray over us, Christians, that we can live a life that honors and glorifies God. I pray that we can share the beauty of Christ with truth and grace. I pray for wisdom as we go about this life doing the work that we have been called to do. I pray that we love like Jesus.
I ask the skeptical reader in the room to see and relate to this text. Maybe you are of the “if only” mindset and maybe for you, you need a miracle to believe in this Jesus. I see in the Scripture that even when Jesus performed these miracles, many were quick to call it anything but a miracle. I challenge you, lovingly, of course. I challenge that way of thinking and I make the case that God has already proven Himself enough. Look at the sixty-six books that share one spine: The Bible. Look at the intricacy and complexity of this world which calls for a Creator. Look in the mirror. You are made with intentionality. Jesus has shown up and continues to. I do not believe that it is merely a coincidence that you have stumbled across this blog. I pray that Jesus continues to work in your heart. I pray that you see that Jesus is the Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him and exclaimed, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him.” John 1:1-18