Episode 07: Zacchaeus: An Encounter With Salvation

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The physician Luke is the only Gospel writer to include an account about Zacchaeus, the short tax collector from Jericho who climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus. Join me in this seventh episode of the podcast, as we take a closer look into this story to see what details we can learn from this man’s encounter with Salvation.

When Jesus Marveled

Jesus and the Roman Centurion
There are many occasions recorded in the New Testament in which the followers of Jesus, His disciples, or even the Jewish religious leaders, would marvel in response to His teachings or the miracles he preformed. But did you know that there are only two instances wherein it’s written that Jesus Himself marveled?

Before we take a look at these two occurrences, let us first seek to understand the meaning of the term, ‘marvel’ –  sometimes translated as, “wondered”, “amazed”, or “astonished”.

The actual Greek word is thaumazo (thou-mad’-zo) which is a verb meaning: to marvel, to wonder at, to be astonished or surprised by.

In order to better understand the meaning of the word in context, let’s look to a few other places in Scripture where it’s used.

The first of which is found in Matthew chapter 8 verses 24-27:

     And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
(Matt 8:24-27)

So in this scenario, the disciples marvel at the supernatural authority that Jesus displays over the winds and waves. Imagine suddenly going from being in the middle of a hurricane one moment, to tranquil waters and still winds the next. Consider too, that a decent portion of these fellows had been fishermen by trade. So they certainly would’ve been familiar with boating on the sea of Galilee and the various storms that would arise from time to time. Yet this was something remarkable even to them.

The second example is found in Matthew chapter 21 verses 18-20:

      In the morning, as He was returning to the city, He became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, He went to it and found nothing on it but leaves only. And He said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree
wither at once?” (Matt 21:24-27)

Here we see another display of the power and authority of Jesus’ word over nature, which again causes the disciples to marvel.

The third and final example we will look to, is found in Matthew chapter 27 verses 11-14:

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. (Matt 27:11-14)

In this situation, the astonishment or amazement isn’t brought on by a supernatural demonstration or a miracle being performed by Jesus, but rather, by His remaining silent. Pilate, being a Roman official, is perplexed that Jesus is not attempting to plead His own defense or to vindicate Himself against these charges being brought against Him.

To be clear, there are plenty of other times this word, thaumazo is used, I’ve just chosen these three passages for the purpose of becoming better acquainted with the word and familiar with its usage in context. Now that I think we have gained that understanding, we may move on to the first instance where Jesus marvels. Matthew chapter 8 verses 5-13:

When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to Him, appealing to Him,    “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”  And He said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who followed Him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go, let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. (Matt 8:5-13)

What an incredible honor right? To have Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, marvel at your level of faith. And not only does Jesus marvel at this man’s faith, He then goes on to hold it up as an example before all His followers.
Keep in mind that this man isn’t even an Israelite, he is a Roman soldier, a Gentile. So by the cultural standards, he is an outsider. Yet here he is, displaying more faith in the Jewish Messiah, than even the Jews were.

It’s also noteworthy here, how Jesus points out that many will come from east and west to recline at table in the kingdom of heaven, while the “sons of the kingdom” will be cast out. He is foreshadowing the fact that salvation will be poured out to Gentile believers as well, something these men would not come to understand until later in the book of Acts, post-resurrection. Ironically, that first convert is also a Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius. (See Acts ch. 10)

Century meaning ‘one hundred’, a Roman centurion would’ve had authority over one hundred soldiers. It’s been said that they were the backbone of the Roman army. No doubt, these men commanded respect. And yet here is this war-hardened man, coming and making his appeal before Jesus- a traveling Rabbi, a holy man.
In doing so, he is displaying three important characteristics: compassion, humility, and faith. Compassion for his servant who is lying paralyzed at home. Especially in a culture wherein a servant or a slave was viewed as expendable, almost as a tool. If one wears out, you would just replace it. He could’ve had the attitude of Ivan Drago B5940307-2DE4-4723-AC89-0B0B3DAD89E9the Russian in Rocky IV: “If he dies, he dies.”

The second important characteristic he’s displaying is humility. Evident in his response “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.” He addresses Jesus as ‘Lord’ which, although may not have been the true understanding of how we now use the term, was still a recognition of respect and authority. Being a centurion in the Roman Military, he could’ve thought himself rather significant. But instead of coming with an heir of superiority, he comes before Jesus, appealing to Him in graciousness and humility.

And I believe this carries with it not only humility, but also a sense of consideration. As a Roman, a Gentile was an outsider, viewed as ‘unclean’. The Jewish people would’ve had as little dealings with them as possible, and it certainly would’ve been taboo to enter the home of a Gentile. Jesus however, shows no hesitation by this as he responds, “I will come and heal him.” But being aware that this act would’ve brought some measure of disdain upon Jesus in the eyes of His Jewish contemporaries, I believe the centurion is showing consideration in wanting to spare Jesus any kind of dishonor.

And lastly, the third characteristic displayed is of course faith. This faith is what causes Jesus to marvel. He praises this faith by turning to His followers and saying, “Truly I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” In doing so, Jesus is holding this man, a Gentile, up as an example of faith not only to the Jewish people, but also even to us today as we read of this account preserved in His word. Let us also recognize another sense of why this is such a commendable display of faith, and that is in the fact that this type of healing is unprecedented up until this point. At no other time previously, has Jesus healed someone from a distance like this. It’s always been in His presence. So the Centurion has no previous experience on which to base this belief, other than his faith alone in the power and authority of Jesus’ word.

Also take notice of how Jesus says “let it be done for you as you have believed”, in other words, ‘in the same manner, the same capacity in which you have believed, may it come to pass.’ We see this similar response of Christ several times throughout the gospel accounts, one of which is found in Matthew chapter 9 verses 27-30:

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. (Matt 9:27-30)

So He first asks these men IF they believe that He is able to perform this miracle of healing for them. Almost as if faith, the belief, is a prerequisite for the healing.
Another example of this type of response is found a bit earlier in Matthew chapter 9 verses 20-22:

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matt 9:20-22)

So this woman had reasoned within herself that she didn’t even have to speak to Jesus, all she had to do was touch His outer cloak, the fringe of His garment, and she believed, she had the faith that she would be made well in doing so. Quite possibly there’s a level of humility shown here as well, because she’s aware that Jesus is very busy, he’s constantly traveling, he’s always surrounded by large crowds of people. He was actually on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter here in this story. So she was probably thinking, ‘I won’t interrupt Him, I won’t take up any of His time, I’ll just walk up and touch His cloak, and I’ll be healed.’ Touch and go, a run by healing so to speak.

From these examples, we can clearly see that Jesus is ready to meet the people where they are. You and I, He’s ready, He’s willing to meet us where we are. When the centurion comes appealing to Him regarding his servant, Jesus answers ‘Very well, I will come and heal him.’ He’s willing to meet him on that level. But the centurion rises, he elevates in faith, and says, ‘I being a man of authority, I recognize your authority Jesus. I know that you can just say the word and it will be done, you don’t even need to be present.’ And how does Jesus respond? He marvels, and then He answers, ‘May it be done to you as you have believed.’

I’ve always imagined this, “according to your faith”, almost as a credit system. The Father certainly has enough means in the account. There will never be an error message returned saying, “we’re sorry you’ve charged too much faith to this account” No, God has more than enough ability, there’s an unlimited power in the account, but it’s how much faith are you willing to express? How much do you believe? How much do you trust in Him? He certainly has the means and the ability to meet it. And of course I don’t mean for selfish desires. I’m saying faith demonstrated according to His will, according to His purpose. So make no mistake, that although I’m using language of a ‘credit system’ and an ‘account balance’ this does not mean that I’m speaking in terms of monetary wealth or finances. I’m not proposing a prosperity gospel here. This is merely a picture, an analogy that has always helped me to understand, and as C.S. Lewis would say,  ‘This is only a picture, not the thing itself, and if it doesn’t help you then feel free to throw it out.’

Another point I’d like to highlight before moving on, is that Jesus has healed this servant based soley upon the faith of the centurion soldier, not based upon any faith set forth by the servant. The servant is lying paralyzed at home, he’s helpless. Now maybe he is aware that the centurion has come to Jesus appealing on his behalf, and perhaps he is hopeful, but it’s the centurion who has sought out Jesus, it is he who has expressed faith. This is an excellent example of intercession. We use the term ‘intercessory prayer’, which is going to God appealing to Him on behalf of someone else. So may we too remember to be thankful for those loved ones in our lives who are faithful and appeal to God, making intercession to the Lord on our behalf, even in those times that we may not be aware of.

Now before moving on, there is one more point here, that for the sake of clarity and exposition, I do feel the need to take the time to address, and that is the idea that some have argued that this relationship between the Roman centurion and his young male servant is homosexual in nature. This is not a widely held view, certainly one that I was not previously aware of until further researching this topic. And I debated with even including this portion of information within this study.  Aside from prayer, what was a convincing factor that lead me to include it, was that if I were to play devil’s advocate, in other words, if I were to be a proponent of this homosexuality theory, I could give you one half of the argument, my position, and it’s very convincing. Without the other half, without the full picture, you would be persuaded. As it’s stated in the book of Proverbs:

The first to state his case seems right, until another comes and cross-examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)

And I believe the Lord’s response to my prayer of hesitation was, in essence, ‘Well what would you have done for you?’ As I mentioned before, I was not previously aware of this viewpoint, so if someone were to have hit me with it, well then I would’ve been uninformed and unprepared. So again, for the sake of clarity and exposition, and for the equipment of truth, I have indeed chosen to include it.

So in the argument, it would be brought to attention that the word translated as ‘servant’ usually is the Greek word doulos, that is the more common term used for servant. However, with this particular servant , on several instances it’s translated using the Greek word pais. This meaning refers to a young child servant. It’s mostly used in reference to a boy, but there is a situation in Luke chapter 8 verses 49-54  where it’s used to refer to a girl child. This is where Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. It appears twice, once in verse 51, and again in verse 54, it’s rendered as ‘child’, speaking of the little girl.

In this same account of the Roman centurion recorded in Luke, it’s always translated as doulos except once, and that is when being used by the centurion himself.

 “But say the word, and let my servant(pais) be healed.” (Luke 7:7)

This is where it would be argued that the use of this term, points to a sexual nature. However, this same word is translated in Matthew chapter 12 verse 18 in a prophecy from Isaiah being quoted about Jesus:

“Behold, My servant(pais) whom I have chosen, My beloved with whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.”
(Matt 12:18)

In Luke chapter 2 verse 43, it’s used about Jesus as a boy. This is where Joseph and Mary and Jesus, when He’s 12 years old, they travel to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.

And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy(pais) Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, though His parents were not aware of it (Luke 2:43)

It’s used again in Matthew chapter 17 verse 18 where the father brings his demon-possessed son to the disciples, but they are unable to drive it out, so he then appeals to Jesus:

And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy(pais) was healed instantly. (Matt 17:18)

This child, was the man’s son. In verse 15 he clearly states, “my son”.

We have a clear example of both words being used in John chapter 4 verses 49-51:

The official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants(doulos) met him and told him that his son(pais) was recovering. (John 4:49-51)

There are four more times where the word is used in the book of Acts, again referring to Jesus Himself.

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant(pais) Jesus (Acts 3:13)

God, having raised up His servant(pais), sent Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3:26)

were gathered together against Your holy servant(pais) Jesus, whom You anointed
(Acts 4:27)

while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant(pais) Jesus.” (Acts 4:30)

So this Greek word pais is translated a total of 24 times throughout the New Testament, and never, not once, is it used to hint or allude to a sexual relationship. As we’ve seen, oftentimes it’s used for the relationship between God the Father and His beloved servant Jesus, speaking of a Father/Son type bond.

Now there is one other distinction that will be pointed to, as a ‘one-two punch’, the second half to this same argument. That is found in Luke chapter 7 verse 2:

And a centurion’s servant, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. (Luke 7:2)

This phrase “highly regarded”, or in the King James Version, “dear to him”, is the Greek word entimos, meaning highly regarded or precious. While certainly a term of endearment, again, nowhere is this word used with any sexual connotation. In fact, had the author Luke intended to imply a sexual type love, he would’ve used the word eros instead. This word is used only five times in the New Testament, two of which appear in 1 Peter chapter 2 verses 4 and 6, both times being translated as ‘precious’:

As you come to Him, the living stone, rejected by men, but chosen and precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 2:4)

For it stands in Scripture, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him shall never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)

So, having looked at each of these within context, we see that while there is obviously a level of endearment being expressed, there is absolutely no cause, no contextual basis, no plausible evidence to assume that this somehow implies a homosexual relationship. That is a biased view which would have to be read into the text, not out of it. A distorted perversion of what is actually being expressed here, which is most likely a father/son type of sentiment. Especially since these same words are used in reference to the relationship between Christ Jesus and His Father. Him being highly valued, entimos, precious in the sight of God.

Alright, that brings us to our second instance, the only other occurrence where we’re told that Jesus marveled, found in Mark chapter 6 verses 1-6:

He went away from there and came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him.
And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to Him? How are such mighty works done by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6)

So the first time we see Jesus marvel, it is in response to the great faith displayed by the Roman centurion. This time though, what causes Jesus to marvel is an incredible lack of faith. He marvels at their unbelief. What a contrast. With the Gentile soldier, He finds faith from somewhere it wouldn’t have necessarily been expected. Here in His own hometown of Nazareth, a place where it would’ve been expected, it is strangely absent.

To be clear, when I speak of unexpectedness, I do not believe that this caught Jesus off guard or unaware. We know that John chapter 2 verse 24 says,

But Jesus on His part did not did entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men
(John 2:24)

And there are other situations throughout the gospels, in which Jesus perceives what the people were thinking, and would then address those thoughts openly. So while I don’t believe this caught Jesus unaware, it is clear that this is a manifestation of awe. Not in the admirable sense as with the centurion, but in the critical sense. This is an astounding unbelief.
Nazareth was a small, relatively obscure village, about 25 kilometers from the Sea of Galilee. Scholars have said that there would’ve only been, at most about five hundred people living there at this time.
Think about that for a moment. The fact that Jesus, the Word which became flesh, Immanuel – God with us, came and chose to live for thirty years of His humanity, in that kind of obscurity. What a privilege for this otherwise insignificant little village. That for those thirty years, they almost in a way, had the Son of God reserved to themselves. They were able to observe His outward life as He grew. They were able to socialize and to interact with Him, and to hear the words that He spoke.

Verse 2 mentions that on the sabbath, He was in the synagogue teaching. It was a customary practice that a visiting Rabbi would be given the opportunity to teach in the local synagogue, and we see this throughout Christ’s earthly ministry.

and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16)

Synagogue literally means ‘gathering’ or ‘assembly’. There were no synagogues in Jerusalem because that is where the temple was located, but these would be dispersed throughout the surrounding towns and villages wherein the Jewish people were able to gather together to read the Scriptures and to worship. A similar equivalent to our modern-day local church buildings. During His traveling circuit of ministry, Jesus and His disciples, would enter these local synagogues, where He would be given the floor to expound the Scriptures.
So initially, we see there is this respect afforded to Jesus by their giving Him the opportunity to teach. Perhaps this was motivated by a sense of curiosity, intrigue. After all, this is the hometown Son who has now become quite famous. By this point, they have surely heard of His ministry, about the miracles and the healings that he has performed. We actually see evidence of this in the text, at the end of verse 2 when they ask “How are such mighty works done by His hands?” But we see later on in verse 5, that He could do no mighty works there among them because of their unbelief. So these are obviously based on reports that they’ve been hearing about His ministry.

We should also notice that this is not the first time that Jesus has come into Nazareth to teach in their synagogue. He’s been here before about a year earlier at the outset of His public ministry. We’re told of this in Luke chapter 4 verses 16-30. This is after His baptism by John in the Jordan, after His temptation in the wilderness, it says He comes into Nazareth and enters the synagogue on the Sabbath. He’s handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and it says ‘He found the place where it is written’, so this was intentional, and He reads that Messianic prophecy in Isaiah chapter 61 verse 1, and the beginning half of verse 2. It’s important to notice where he stops reading, as the full verse reads:

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:2)

Jesus stops reading before it mentions ‘the day of vengeance of our God’, because this will not be fulfilled until His second coming. He rolls up the scroll, hands it back to the attendant, and sits down. All the eyes in the synagogue are fixed upon Him, and He says “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” When the people heard these things, it says they were filled with wrath, and they drove Jesus out of the town and up on a hill in order to throw Him down the cliff. They were literally going to try and kill Him. But it says Jesus passed through their midst and went about His way.

So here He has come again, about a year later, after He’s been fulfilling those words of Isaiah, and after they’ve tried to kill Him the first time. This is an example of His patient mercy. As it’s written in 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 9:

The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

In verse 2 it says that they were ‘astonished by His teaching’. You will not find a better preacher than Jesus. In John chapter 7 verse 46, the officers answer about Jesus: “No one has ever spoken like this man!” So His teaching, His authority was certainly potent. We can see that their hearts were moved, but instead of yielding to the message, instead of receiving the truth, they harden themselves against it.
What’s ironic is, here are these people gathered together in this synagogue, assembled in the name of learning and sharing God’s word – and yet, here is the Word made flesh, standing before them, and He’s communicating that truth to them. And they are struck by it, they are in awe of it. But instead of receiving it gladly, they begin to question the source of it. “Where did this man get these things? What is this wisdom given to Him?”

And notice how they ask, “Is this not the carpenter, Son of Mary?” This is most likely an insult, because typically you would identify the man with his father. So even if Joseph had passed away by this point, which is more than likely, “Son of Joseph” would’ve been the natural way of wording it. And we see later in John chapter 8 verse 41, the Jewish leaders say to Jesus, “We were not born of fornication, we have one father, God.” This is a slight against Him, questioning the origin and legitimacy of His birth.

They go on to say, “the brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon, and are not His sisters here among us?” By the way, James and Judas were the half brothers of Jesus who wrote the New Testament epistles James and Jude. Anyway, these siblings being mentioned here once again disproves the Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary remained a perpetual virgin. This teaching is not only unscriptural, it is also unnecessary. Yes, Jesus was certainly virgin born. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announces that she will give birth to the Messiah, she is quite surprised and asks “How can this be since I am a virgin and have not known a man?” Also when the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph, because naturally he would have some questions. The angel reassures him to take Mary as his wife, and notice how it says, ‘he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and he took Mary to be his wife, but knew her not until after she had given birth to a son.’ (Matthew 1:24-25) So by all means, after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had a normal fruitful marriage bearing children.

And notice what it says next, ‘and they were offended at Him.’ So not only were they disbelieving in the message, but they were also displeased with the messenger Himself. He bothers them. Have you ever noticed how people can not only disagree with the truth, but they find it personally offensive. It gets under their skin, it annoys them. They want to dismiss it, and not only that, but they want to distance themselves from it. Jesus responds in verse 4, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Have you ever heard the expression, “familiarity breeds contempt”? That’s what’s happening here. At first glance, their questions may seem complimentary. But they are not asking these questions interested in the truth, they are asking with a sense of contempt. “But we know this man, we know His family. Isn’t this just the carpenter? He made the yoke for my oxen, granted it is the best yoke I’ve ever seen, but still, who does He think He is to come here and tell us how to live, or claim to be the Messiah?” It’s this type of attitude.
I like the response to that expression, “No, familiarity breeds contempt in contemptable people.” See, when we choose not to display respect for that which is truly respectful, we are not demonstrating a lack in that particular thing, we are demonstrating a lack in ourselves.

And verse 5, ‘And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.’ What a contrast from what we’ve seen in the previous chapters. Jesus speaks to the wind and the waves, and they obey Him. He speaks to sickness and disease, and they obey Him. He speaks to unclean spirits and commands them to come out, and they obey Him. Now we’re being told of something He could not do. Now keep in mind, while I do believe the author is trying to illustrate this contrast, this doesn’t mean unable in the sense of Christ’s power or ability. If He wanted to, He could’ve healed everyone in Nazareth, all 500 villagers. We see later that He goes on to feed more than 5,000. No, this doesn’t speak of any lack in the ability of the Son of God, rather, this is a decision, a judgement. This is a consequence of their willful rejection of Him. He’s not going to reward this type of stubborn unbelief. Just as Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6 states:

For without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to Him, must first believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
(Hebrews 11:6)

So if you are not acknowledging Him by faith, and drawing near to Him, believing that He is a rewarder of those who earnestly, diligently seek Him, then you aren’t receiving these things. But what is God’s heart? What is Christ’s heart? Look in Matthew chapter 23 verse 37:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

No, our unbelief does not hinder God nor His ability, it hinders us.

One final thing that I believe is noteworthy to consider. That is, if we were in a church service, and witnessed one or two people being healed of some obvious illness or physical impairment, we would call that a mighty work, right? A miracle. However by Christ’s standards, what He’s been accomplishing day by day in His ministry – healing all manner of sickness, casting out demons, feeding the multitudes, for Him to just lay His hands of a few sick people and heal them, it’s almost as if He’s done nothing mighty. Verse 5 says, ‘He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.’ I would say that was a mighty work for those individuals who were sick. Imagine how grateful and relieved you would be if you were one of those people. And obviously they had the faith to come to Him, so they did receive their healing. But in comparison to the scope of Christ’s ministry, this wasn’t even considered a mighty work at all.

In closing, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the only two occurrences in scripture wherein Jesus marveled, both of which were in response to faith. One positively, at a great faith, and one negatively, at a lack of faith. Two ends of the spectrum. So we must ask ourselves, which end of the spectrum do we want to be on?