Unbelief a Marvel

Unbelief A Marvel - Of all the expressions in the four Gospels which show that the Lord Jesus Christ was very Man, none perhaps is more startling than this. That He who was born of the Virgin Mary, and had a body like our own, should hunger and thirst, and weep and rejoice, and be weary and suffer pain,—all this we can, in some degree, understand. But that He who was very God as well as very Man, He "in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," He in whom were, "hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," He who "knew what was in man,"—that He should "marvel" at anything here below, may well fill us with astonishment. But what saith the Scripture? There it is written in plain words, which no critical ingenuity can explain away,— "He marveled because of their unbelief. What I wish to do is to say something practical about the general subject of unbelief. It must be a wonderful thing if even our Lord Jesus Christ marveled at it. It must be an important thing, when we hear and read so much about it in the present day. And I shall try to make a few plain remarks upon it. [Mark 6:6]

Unbelief is the oldest of the many spiritual diseases by which fallen human nature is afflicted. It began in the day when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and brought sin into the world. They did not believe what God had told them would be the consequence of disobedience, and they did believe the Tempter, saying, "Ye shall not surely die."—It ruined millions in the day of Noah's flood: they would not listen to the great "preacher of righteousness," when he warned them for a hundred and twenty years to flee from the wrath to come.—It slew myriads in the day when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire from heaven. When righteous Lot called on his sons-in-law to escape for their lives, "he seemed as one that mocked." (Gen. xix. 14.) It kept Israel wandering forty years in the wilderness, till a whole generation was dead. We are expressly told, "They could not enter in because of unbelief" (Heb. iii. 19.) It brought, finally, destruction on the Church and State of the Jews some fifty years after Christ left the world. They would not believe nor receive Him as the Messiah, but crucified and killed Him. The primary cause why Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple burned, and God's ancient people cast off and scattered over the face of the world, was unbelief.


In days like these we must count it no strange thing if we meet with a vast amount of unbelief in the world. Rather let us make up our minds to expect it, and to see it under the most specious and plausible aspects. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. No doubt it is startling, when a young person leaves some quiet secluded country home, and launches on the waves of this troublesome world in some busy town, to hear doctrines and principles denied, or sneered at, which he never dreamed of anyone questioning when he lived at home. But surely this is no more than his old Bible might have taught him to expect. Is it not written there, "There shall come in the last days scoffers?" "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (2 Peter iii. 3; Luke xviii. 8;) Such a young man should say to himself calmly and quietly, "This unbelief is precisely what my father's Bible told me to expect. If I met with no unbelief, the old Book would not be true."


That conclusion is, that of all spiritual diseases by which fallen man is afflicted, there is none so truly marvellous and unreasonable as unbelief.

J C Ryle (1816 - 1900)
Posted: 15 Jan 2012