“BELIEVE OR NOT”                                           By Pastor Yau

Matthew 13:53-58                                              January 11, 2004



       The widely beloved TV documentary “Ripley’s Believe or Not” presents many of the strangest things of the world, some of them could be called “unbelievable.”  To those un-believable, we have two choices: to believe or not to believe. Either we choose to believe or not, it doesn’t have much effect in our lives: it doesn’t give us anything important if we do, nor hurts us in anyway if we don’t. But not all things that demand a decision are like that. There are things we do need to make right decisions either to believe or not and our decision will greatly affect our well being. Our decision to believe Jesus or not is one of those things.


       The Scripture quoted above is the record of the people in Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, and their attitude against Jesus.  The passage gives us some reasons why this people refused to believe Jesus as their Savior and how they despised Him. As we study this passage, we may see that human attitude about Jesus hasn’t changed that much in the past 2,000 years. Here are the reasons why they did not believe in Jesus:



       The message of Jesus was simple: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near.” (Matt. 4:7) Jesus was sent to the world for 2 purposes: to die for the sins of men and to bring people into the Kingdom of God.  He preached the message on the kind of people who are qualified to be in God’s Kingdom in the Sermons on the Mountain, Matt. 5-7. Then he used parables 6 more times to illustrate what the Kingdom of God is like in the first part of Chapter 13.  He repeatedly called for people to repent and to seek the Kingdom of God. Matt. 6:33. But look at how the people responded to Him.

       Instead of listening to the message, repented of their sins and began to seek the Kingdom of God, the people at Nazareth questioned his wisdom and his power. They asked questions after questions from which we can see their hardened heart of unbelief. They did not ask question to find answers so they could believe. They asked questions to undermine the validity of Jesus as the Savior.  We still see people of today do the same thing.  Many Christians were stunk by tough questions asked by unbelievers. We just don’t have all the answers about God, salvation, the Bible and many other things related to spiritual values. Very few people, if any, have decided to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior because he/she got all questions perfectly answered. The Bible never demands that people will have all their questions answered and be saved. The Bible points to “believe” as the path of salvation.  No one will arrive at the correct destiny if he starts his trip on the wrong path.



       After questioning the wisdom and the powers of Jesus, the people at Nazareth belittled him by saying this is only a carpenter’s son and they had know him and his family since day one. Some of them might have been to his carpenter shop. Others might be his relatives. How could anything or anyone special from this boy of a little town? Many of today’s people have the same problem to recognize the magnitude of Jesus.

       Every tribe and every people have their own pillars of culture or religion. I have encountered many Chinese who were so sure of no need to believe in a foreign God since there are so many religions already exist in Chinese history. They said if they need to believe in a god, there are many in China that they need not to believe in a god from that little place of Israel.

       Pride of culture, history and heritage are some stumbling blocks which prevent many from seeking and believing the Lord of life. No body knows why didn’t God send His son as the Savior of man in a major culture, populated nation or rich and famous family. All we know is God is a sovereign God and He can do anything of His choice. We are not saved by a culture, a nation or a religion. We are saved by the grace of God through His son Jesus Christ because of our faith in Him.



       In verse 57, the Bible says, “they took offense at him.” Jesus and His message had offended them. That is exactly how many people feel today: Jesus is too straight, always labels people as sinners, always demands repentance, and that is unbearable. Many people think they are good enough, may not be the best, that they are not sinners, and certainly they deserve to be in heaven without believing in any God, much less need repentance or anything. Jesus and His message have become an offence to these people and they find it hard to believe in Him.

       Pride is the root of sin from day one. Satan offered to Eve an incentive to eat the forbidden fruit and that is: if you just eat this fruit, you will be like god. (Genesis 3:5) Since that day, every man wants to be his own god, to control his own destiny, plans his own way, handles things his way and choose his own path of life. The message of Jesus asking for repentance is an offence and therefore unacceptable.



       The Bible gives lists of those who believed and the blessings they received from God, and those who refused to believe and the terrible consequences they suffered.  It is unlike “BELIEVE OR NOT” in the Ridley’s documentary that doesn’t bear any serious consequence. The choice to believe in Jesus or to reject him will result in eternal life or eternal loss. The choice is yours.



       Human attitude towards Jesus hasn’t changed that much since 2,000 years ago. Many people today still repeat the same mistakes of the ancient Nazarene. Their unbelief did not minimize the mission of Jesus or the benefits of the gospel to millions of those who believed. The only ones who suffered loss are those who refuse to believe. Yes, to BELIEVE OR NOT is your choice. But I pray you all will believe than not.