When we were children, we were exposed to the power of God through the stories of the miracles of Jesus; about three dozen of them. They were viewed by us a a kind of magic, and served to enforce our view of the greatness of God through the humanity of Jesus.
We have carried these perceptions into our adult life and are encouraged to expect them. Certainly there are demonstrations of the miraculous that occur every day. We may account for them in our own lives as we are somehow healed, restored or otherwise benefit from God’s grace. Or, the response may even have been predestined by Him to teach us about the power of prayer to change circumstances.
Some skeptics have no place for miracles. When we look at Jesus’ first miracle; that of “saving the day” at the wedding feast by turning water into wine when they had run out. It may seem a strange beginning to those that followed as wonderful restorations of mind and body of the afflicted, or in others, outright control of the forces of nature.
Jesus set a pattern for the Church to likewise respond to “dis-ease” in their focus upon the needy. And, carried with it an effort to dispel the idea that those who were victims were being punished by God for sins or unbelief.
From the beginning Jesus was becoming aware that He was creating situations where, as people began to believe in His miraculous powers, they made requests of Him to demonstrate powers on call. Their exhortations became; “If you are truly the Son of God, then…….. His response was ” A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!” He might then refuse. He did not want our faith based upon miracles.
One of the most poignant moments was when Mary implored, upon the death of Lazarus; “Lord , if you had been there, my brother would not have died.” Jesus wept, even while knowing well in advance that He would raise Lazarus up from the grave.
In truth, this painted the picture of His intent; to bring into reality of life in all of it’s imponderables that pale into insignificance alongside the glorious future that awaits us. That would be the thing that may have brought tears to His eyes; and so should it ours as well, as we set aside the mystery of it.
As we count the level of Jesus’ love measured by God’s response to prayer for whatever our needs may be, we may be falling short of the commanding reason why Jesus came to us in earthly form: To bring forgiveness, that we may have life eternal.
God had also promised believers a life of abundance. Our definition of that varies widely. If we count God’s love as dependant upon how He answers our calls for “saving grace”; as Phillip Yancey puts it in his book, “The Jesus I Never Knew”; “The miracle He did perform, breaking as they did the chain of sickness and death, gave us a glimpse of what the world was meant to be, and instill hope that one day God will right it’s wrongs. To put it mildly, God is not more satisfied with this earth than we are. Jesus’ miracles offer a hint of what God intends to do about it.”
We may often fall into the trap Jesus sought for us to avoid; measuring His love by His answers, rather than loving all His answers in faith.
The miracle of all of this is; We live under the umbrella of God’s promises which provide hope to carry us through. We may treat them as miracles or pure gifts; His answer is contained in Jesus’ messages of humanity and in His resurrection.