As a conduit of God’s power to heal on the earth, Jesus seems to have been shorted out on occasion.
I’m not talking about those instances when He – as many have said – went to “recharge His spiritual batteries” in prayer, alone or with His closest friends, after exhausting missions.
No, I’ve got two specific instances in mind from scripture. One is found in Mark 6:1-6. He could heal just about anywhere – except at home, where virtually no one believed in Him. The last two verses of that citation read:
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
I don’t know if there’s a cause-effect relationship there. But I suspect it. The reason is found in the second instance, in the previous chapter (Mark 5:21-34). He has gone to help Jairus’ gravely-sick daughter when a woman in the crowd about Him reaches out in faith that just touching His garment will heal her, too. He stops, apparently surprised; feeling power leave Him. He asks who touched Him, and she knows what He means by it and confesses. He tells her that her faith has healed her. Did He have nothing to do with it, as far as His own will is concerned? If so, then hers was enough. If not, perhaps He was waiting to see if she would act upon it.
We know that when He walked this world, He could divine the thoughts of others. To what extent, I’m not sure we can accurately surmise. Maybe the din of the crowd’s thoughts around Him drowned her out. Maybe He knew exactly what she prayed for.
But in the previous instance, there was an almost-complete lack of faith. And He apparently could do little. Mark’s gospel doesn’t say that He wouldn’t, but that He “could not.” Perhaps His power was, in fact, short-circuited by the lack of faith around Him. Perhaps those around Him refused to recognize the miracles He performed for what they really were – supernatural acts of God on earth – because it would naturally follow, then, that the Mary’s son they knew (with four brothers and at least a couple of sisters) might not be the carpenter’s boy after all.
The point I’d like to get to doesn’t depend on the correct answer to those questions, fortunately.
In both these situations – and in many more – I find evidence that Jesus actively wanted to work through the faith of the people around Him. I don’t believe that has changed. In fact, I believe that His Spirit is sent among those of us who seek to follow Him for that very reason and purpose.
That prompts the uncomfortable question:
Are we short-circuiting His power in the world today – not because He can’t work around us, but because He wants to work through us – simply by our lack of faith?