It’s not something anyone likes to talk about, although the evidence for it is right there in both the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew, but Jesus’s most embarrassing moments are on full display for us to see if we’re looking for them.
In both Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:5, we read this:
“And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”
“He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”
Both verses record the same event for us: When Jesus returned to his hometown, Nazareth, and found an alarming lack of belief among his own people there.
Because of this overwhelming attitude of skepticism from members of his own community, Jesus wasn’t successful when trying to heal people.
Hidden within those two short sentences are scenes we will never find in any films about the life of Jesus; scenes where Jesus lays hands on a blind person and nothing happens, or when he commands a demon to leave someone and the demon remains, or when he tries to heal someone born lame, or deaf, and the miracle doesn’t happen.
We will never see any scenes like that in movies about Jesus, but those scenes took place, nonetheless, and we know they did because of what Matthew and Mark freely admit: There were times when Jesus couldn’t work the miracle; couldn’t cast out the demon, couldn’t perform the wonder, and absolutely nothing happened when he tried to heal the sick.
That, to me, is a very significant point to consider: Even Jesus wasn’t one hundred percent successful. He failed. He blew it. He felt stupid. He had to walk away in disgrace and endure the mocking crowd who laughed at his inability to prove he was the Messiah they were looking for.
There are a lot of directions we could go from here. We could point out that miracles require the active participation of both the healer and the sick person, or that the placebo effect only works if the patient has total confidence in the physician, or that sometimes the inner narratives we believe can override the possibility of experiencing something new and different, or that Jesus never forced anyone to accept the gifts he wanted to offer them.
Yep. All of those things are worth exploring in one form or another. But, for me, right now, I feel like it’s most important to just sit with this realization a bit longer: Jesus failed. He was mocked by his own friends and family as a failure. He had to endure the walk of shame after publically embarrassing himself in front of a crowd of people.
Why is that important? Because it means Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer that shame, and experience that failure, and endure that mocking crowd.
He knows what it’s like to go to sleep at night replaying that failure over and over again in his mind. He understands how it feels to completely drop the ball at the worst possible time. He knows exactly what it’s like to let people down, to disappoint people, and to look foolish in front of an audience.
I know you know what that feels like, too.
I know you’ve blown it. I know you’ve let people down.
I know you’ve put yourself out there, stood in front of the crowd, and completely laid a goose egg in front of everyone.
You’ve heard that laughter. You’ve endured that mockery. You’ve felt that unbearable shame.
I know you have. Because I have, too.
And, I guess it just really comforts me to know that I’m not alone in this. It eases the pain of that failure to realize that even someone like Jesus knows exactly how that feels, too.
To strikeout. To forget your lines. To say the wrong thing. To forget someone’s name. To make a huge mistake. To let people down. To embarrass yourself in front of everyone.
We’ve all done it. We’ve all felt that pain.
Even Jesus knows exactly what it feels like.
You’re not alone. You’re human, even as Jesus was human.
That’s a good thing.
Let yourself off the hook.
It’s going to be okay.
There are better days ahead.
Keith Giles is the author of the 7-part best-selling “Jesus Un” book series from Quoir Publishing. His latest -and final book – in this series, Jesus Unarmed: How The Prince Of Peace Disarms Our Violence is available now. Keith is also the host of Second Cup with Keith [a new solo podcast available now on the Ethos Radio App, for Apple and Android and on Spotify; and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast [along with co-hosts Matthew Distefano, Dr. Katy Valentine, and Derek Day], and the new Imaginary Lines YouTube Channel with poet Darrell Epp. He and his wife, Wendy, currently live in El Paso, TX and work with Peace Catalyst International.