by Pastor Scott Eaton
As I read through Matthew 9 the other day something grabbed my attention and caused me to stop and think. As Jesus was teaching the disciples of John on a variety of issues a ruler came before the Lord with a pressing need. The story goes as follows:
Matthew 9:18-26 (ESV) – 18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20 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, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.
What grabbed my attention was verse 24. After Jesus tells the hired mourners the girl is “not dead, but sleeping” the text says “they laughed at him.” They. Laughed. At. Him. Why would they do this to Jesus? Unbelief.
Using a little sanctified imagination I can hear them saying, “Really, Jesus? We see the girl and she isn’t breathing and she isn’t moving. This isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve been hired to mourn in situations like this before. We think we can spot a dead person!” So they laughed at him.
Just the thought breaks my heart. They didn’t believe Jesus could raise the girl from the dead. They didn’t believe that Jesus was the Creator and Sustainer of all that is. They didn’t believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life. They didn’t even act with curiosity and intrigue. Instead their unbelief caused them to laugh at Jesus.
But what breaks my heart even more is how many times as a believer in Jesus I’ve laughed at Him in my unbelief. Unbelief is a failure to take Jesus seriously. It’s a failure to take God at His Word. It’s a failure to obey Him and trust Him and be captivated by Him. It’s like laughing at Jesus.
Sometimes it’s easy for me to justify my failure to take Jesus seriously as momentary lapses of belief. Sometimes it’s easy to think, “Ok, Jesus, I know what you said, but really? You can’t really expect me to love my neighbor, love my enemy, die to self, or take up my cross. C’mon! Let’s get real!” But when I think of my unbelief as laughing at Jesus, this changes everything. Laughing at Jesus is no laughing matter. “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.” Amen.