All Things are Possible

Day 16

Jesus fed four thousand people today with seven loaves and a few fish. When Jesus stated His intention to feed the crowd, His disciples said, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” Of course God had fed Israel in the wilderness for forty years (not to mention that Jesus had recently fed five thousand people); but the disciples still did not really know who Jesus was — and they would not until after Jesus rose from the dead. Only by a revelation of the resurrection can we really understand who Jesus is.

After Jesus fed the four thousand He again encountered the Pharisees who were again disputing with Him and again Jesus sighed deeply in apparent frustration (see yesterday’s blog). This time the Pharisees demanded a sign from Jesus. Jesus regularly worked miracles, but the Pharisees wanted Jesus to perform miracles at their command. This is testing (or tempting) God. Jesus had settled this issue when He refused the temptation to leap from the pinnacle of the temple in order to display Himself irrefutably as God. Jesus bluntly told the Pharisees that no sign would be given to this kind (“generation”) of people. Previously Jesus stated that the only sign that would be given for the proof of His identity would be the sign of the prophet Jonah.

An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40)

The confirming sign and validation of all that Jesus taught and claimed to be is His resurrection.

I want to make the point that the unbelief of the Pharisees was a dishonest unbelief. They did not want to believe. If Jesus was the Messiah, they would have to defer their authority to Him, and they were more interested in preserving their position than in discovering Messiah. Not to get ahead of our journey, but in an extremely revealing passage of scripture found in John 11:47 we read…

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

There you have it. The Pharisees weren’t looking for Messiah, they were seeking to preserve their position. Unbelief regarding Jesus Christ is almost always dishonest. That’s why Jesus said to Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Blaise Pascal used to say of faith, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” This is equally true of unbelief. Unbelievers are often fond of flattering themselves that their skepticism is rational. But my experience has been that “rational skepticism” is usually a facade for irrational unbelief. The irrationality of their unbelief is they simply don’t want to believe because they don’t like the implications of Jesus Christ being Lord.

On two occasions I have performed an online thought experiment with a group of unbelievers (many of them openly antagonistic to Christianity). I asked them, for the sake of discussion, to imagine that the basic claims of the Gospel are true: That Jesus is the Son of God, who died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is returning to set up His kingdom. Then I asked them if they like it. I was amazed to discover that the vast majority of them did not like even the idea of the Gospel…even if it meant heaven on earth. Do you see what is going on here? It’s not just that they don’t believe, they don’t want to believe. They don’t want Jesus to be Lord.

In Mark 9, following the Transfiguration (I’m going to preach on the Transfiguration Friday night) Jesus encounters the man with the demonized boy. In the course of their conversation, Jesus makes the famous statement, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The father responds by saying, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” You can see from this that faith springs from the heart and the volition. You can choose to believe. You can say to Jesus, “Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” Once you enact your will to believe the Word of God and act on your faith, all things are possible!