Home field advantage is defined as the benefit that the home team is said to gain over a visiting team. It’s something that NFL players battle for all season long. When playoff time comes around, every team wants to be playing in their respective stadium in front of the home crowd.
Statistically speaking, the home team wins in the NFL 57.8% of the time. But why is that? Why is there a home field advantage? Most people believe that the advantage comes from the noise of a home crowd cheering or booing the opposing team which would delay play calls and produce false starts for the visiting team. But research suggests that noise level makes little to no impact on the players and their ability to execute plays. The data shows that traveling, back-to-back scheduling of games, and jet lag are the largest reasons for reduced performance in pro sports.
In Mark 6, Jesus makes an interesting statement in verse 4 that says, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown and among his relatives and his own family”. Jesus says this in response to the people of Nazareth scoffing at Him for teaching in the synagogue. People began to say things such as, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles? He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary”. The scripture says that the people of Nazareth were deeply offended by His teaching and refused to believe in Him.
Jesus did not receive the home field advantage that many pro sports teams hope for. In fact, He received the opposite and says that a prophet is honored everywhere EXCEPT in his hometown. This passage concludes with saying that because of the people of Nazareth’s unbelief, that Jesus couldn’t do miracles among them except to heal a few sick people. That Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.
That word amazed is used in two different contexts in the New Testament. It’s primary meaning is found throughout the Gospels and is used to describe reacting in amazement to a miracle or other supernatural event. Like when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples, and they were amazed in Luke 24. But that’s not the case here. In this context, the term amazed is used in a negative reaction, as when a Pharisee was amazed that Jesus did not wash before eating in Luke 11.
All this leads to an interesting question – Can Jesus’ power be limited by unbelief? More importantly today, does our unbelief affect God’s power to work in us? When you look further into the meaning of Mark 6:5, when the scriptures say that He couldn’t do any miracles among the people of Nazareth, this actually points to Jesus’s strategy and spiritual wisdom.
Similarly in sports, one might say that a player “cannot” cross a line, or they would be out of bounds. That’s not to say the player is physically unable of crossing the line, but rather they cannot cross that line if they want to stay within the boundaries of the game. Jesus earlier stated a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown, meaning the people had already rejected Him as teacher. In that day, prophets were identified by the God-powered miracles they performed, so if a person had already rejected Jesus as prophet, they would reject the miracle, becoming even more resistant to the message of the gospel. Jesus knew that this would push people further away from God rather than drawing them into relationship. Since Jesus’s intent was to promote faith through miracles, He “couldn’t” – meaning He chose not” – to perform miracles in Nazareth.
So, what does this mean for us today? Does our unbelief limit God’s power to work today? What we find in scripture is that faith is the conduit for many of Jesus’s miracles and healings. I would suggest that our unbelief doesn’t limit God, but that our belief is the mode of transportation for God’s power to be released.
Jesus didn’t stay in Nazareth defeated and upset at those who didn’t believe in Him. The scripture goes on to say in Mark 6:6, “that Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people”. He called His disciples together and sent them out, giving them the authority to cast out evil spirits.
Jesus knew that His mission was too large to stay fixated on the disappointments in this world. And the same is true for us today. I’d be lying if I said that it’s always going to be easy to believe God and have faith for the mountains you face. But what I find in this scripture is that Jesus perseveres and continues on His mission, even in the midst of difficulty, because He knew what God had called Him to do.
In the face of challenges, we have to remember what we’re called to do and who we’re called by. Don’t lose faith today! God is still working, and He wants to move mountains in your life and the lives of those around you!