Sunday, August 14, 2011
THE REAL PURPOSE OF MIRACLES
THE REAL PURPOSE OF MIRACLES
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said
to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven…
…Which is easier: to say to the paralytic,
“Your sins are forgiven,” or to say,
‘Get up, take up your mat, and walk’?
‘But that you may know
that the Son of God has authority on earth
to forgive sins…’ He said to the paralytic,
“I tell you, get up, take up your mat and go home.”
Many today seek miracles. They want signs and wonders and “all things following”. They look for great portents, and the fulfillment of prophecy in world events. They want powerful and important things to happen so that they can be convinced, in front of their own eyes, that Christ is God, that the
is real. They seek the outward to be convinced of inward truth. Kingdom of God
Our Lord Jesus had a simple lesson for us, and for the people of the town of
There was a houseful of neighbors and a large crowd out in the street surrounding him. Those who were sick or infirm couldn’t even get to Jesus. Notice that the teachers of the law were taking up room in the house, when there were needy people left out in the street. (What a picture of our churches today. While thousands languish without the Word of God, those who have all they need, the religious, take up the best places, and don’t even think about helping the lame and blind and diseased into the house of God.)
But there was a group of men who were determined to help a young man who was paralyzed and couldn’t walk to Jesus himself. They ignored the crowd, climbed on the roof, and dug a hole through the clay and straw material until they could lower the sick boy down through it to Jesus.
Meanwhile, the teachers of the law were sitting there, ready to analyze Jesus’ every move. They were judging everyone and everything in light of their own religious rules and regulations.
Jesus, however, was looking beyond the circumstances. He saw faith in these men who were lowering the paralytic through the roof. He saw that their need for a miracle went beyond wanting to see some sign or wonder. They had faith in Christ that He would do what was right for this paralyzed young friend of theirs. They were hoping for a miracle, because they had faith, and because they loved this young man. These are the right reasons to come to Jesus!
So what did Jesus do?
He forgave the young man’s sins. “Son, your sins are forgiven,” He said.
What a shock to the crowd. I’m sure they sat there puzzled. So, when is the miracle going to occur? When is this miracle-worker going to work the miracle? When will be get to be amazed? When will our hearts get to leap at another spectacular event? The people were waiting, wanting and eagerly anticipating the show—the outward sign—that would cap off the evening.
Instead, Jesus simply forgave the boys sins. What a letdown.
Now the teachers of the law, the religious, were on a different but similar track in their thinking. Jesus knew their hearts. They were analyzing what Jesus had said, realizing that the forgiving of sins was an act only God could get away with. They were stunned at this man’s audacity. They had seen him do plenty of miracles, but this…this was huge. This meant, if Jesus went around forgiving sins, that He was God. Only God could forgive sins.
It was actually the religious leaders who got what was really going on!
When Jesus went around healing and curing, they were fine. It was an outward thing, and made the people happy. The people were following Jesus because He healed them, and gave them outward miracles. As soon as Jesus was gone, and they were plotting his demise already, they people would forget him, because their faith in him was based on outward things.
But this…this was another matter. This huge, vastly important act, though lost on the crowd, was not lost on these men. They knew what this meant. If people began following Jesus because He forgave their sins, then they would never stop following Him. If people began to see that the real miracle was inside a man, and what happened when Jesus got hold of him inside, then this thing would never stop. If Jesus could forgive sins, then He was claiming to be God, and that just wouldn’t do.
The crowd wanted a miracle. They got the biggest miracle of all, and didn’t even see it.
But Jesus knew them. He knew the hardness of their hearts, their need for outward signs, and so He provided the outward miracle to prove that the inward miracle was possible.
Do we understand today why the Spirit of Christ does outward miracles? So that we will believe the inward miracle, the really big miracle.
Today, is our faith based on feelings, on outward circumstances, on God doing what we ask?
Or do we have true, saving faith, which is Hebrews 11 faith?
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see?”
Must you always get everything you want in order to have faith? Or, like the ancients here, will Jesus commend you for your faith, even when you don’t receive what you’ve waited for?
Will you hold to Christ alone, without outward miracles? Will you stand when you are not delivered from outward trials? Will you stand with Jesus, no matter if when you awaken in the morning the enemy’s armies are still alive outside your gates? No matter if you still have that debilitating disease? No matter if you still must work in that hostile office? No matter if you still suffer poverty? No matter if you must wait for that for which you pray?
Take this lesson from our Lord. The huge, universe-shaking miracle is faith. Faith in Christ that changes a man inwardly into the image of God. Faith that ushers in the Kingdom in ways that might not be outwardly spectacular, but that cause the angels to rejoice in Heaven, and men to come to Christ for the right reasons.
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