The Character of Unbelief
Mark 6:5-6
And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands on a few sick folk, and healed them.…

We begin, then —

I. With SPECULATIVE UNBELIEF; that unbelief which shapes itself into a creed, denying either the being of a God or the inspiration of the Bible. And we say it is a marvel, whether regarded as a matter of taste or of judgment, as a matter of taste, or preference, or choice. We are astonished that any man should be willing to disbelieve these great facts. Take atheism. Even if there be no God, still we should suppose that any intelligent being would wish there were one. The simple idea of living in a world, sustained and managed by no almighty and benevolent intelligence, and which the next hour some tremendous brute and blind force might shatter and send back to the old primordial chaos, this very thought is so dreadful that our very instincts recoil from it. Even if atheism were a logical belief, we should expect every man to argue against it — that men of philosophy and science would go abroad through creation, climbing every mountain, traversing every desert, sounding every ocean, descending into all the spectral caverns of geology, ascending all the sublime heights of astronomy, questioning all phenomena, or forces, or forms of nature, in the intensest agony of a desire to find evidences for a God, crying in the words and accents of a child searching for an absent father, "O tell me, tell me! have you not seen Him? have you not heard Him? In all these broad realms is there no print of His footsteps? no trace of His handiwork? Am I, indeed, a poor, wretched, forlorn orphan? O tell me, tell me! is there not a God?" Now, I repeat it, all this is simply marvellous. It is marvellous that a man should choose rather to be a creature of chance than child of Jehovah; and more marvellous that he should take testimony rather of pulsating spawn than of soaring seraphim, and choose rather to follow a reptile's trail in the mire to God's awful grave, than mount exultingly in the glorious track of an archangel to God's everlasting throne.

II. That PRACTICAL UNBELIEF which consists in a personal rejection of the gospel of Christ, as manifest in the man who, believing in God, and accepting the Bible as His inspired Word, yet goes on, from day to day, putting his eternity away from him as carelessly — yea, as resolutely as if he stood boldly forth with the infidel, professing to believe that God is but a phantom, and the Bible a lie. We say the attitude of this man is even more wonderful than the other. We are less astonished at an intellectual mistake than at a great practical blunder. We are not so profoundly shocked when a blind man walks off a precipice as when a man does the thing when possessed of all his senses, and with his eyes wide open. To believe that in this world of probation we are positively working out our own salvation, absolutely settling the question whether we are to be saved or whether we are to be lost; that there is a heaven of inconceivable and everlasting happiness and glory, and yet turn madly away when its gates are lifted up to our immortal footsteps — is to make exhibition of a folly immeasurable, and all the angels of heaven must stand astonished at the spectacle, and the omniscient Son of God "marvels at our unbelief."

(C. Wadsworth, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

WEB: He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.

The Astonishment of Christ
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