Hey Sweet Friends! Whew! I didn’t know if I was going to get to visit with you this week, my life has moved at such a fast and furious pace since we met last.
There has been a question running around in my mind for the past week. Like the 1980 Gold Medal Winning US Hockey Team…do you believe in miracles?
There are two things that need addressing right off the bat. First, don’t be surprised at my sports reference. While sports aren’t my favorite, I still know things! Second, if you are a Teen Advisor and happened to be at The Gathering on Tuesday I’m essentially recycling the word the Lord gave me so I’m sorry for the repeated content. Sometimes, if it’s good, it’s good, especially with the crazy busy, crazy awesome week I’ve had.
So, I’ll ask it again. Do you believe in miracles?
First, let’s look at what the word miracle means?
Dictionary.com defines miracle as “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. Such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God. A wonder or marvel.”
In the Bible there are 37 miracles recorded that Jesus performed. Key word here is recorded.
At the very end of the book of John in chapter 21 verses 24 & 25, John says,
“This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written”
This communicates that Jesus did WAY more than 37 miracles but I know God to be very intentional with what he shares and when he shares it, so I want us to look at some of the miracles Jesus performed, but first…
Have you ever thought about why Jesus performed miracles? For a long time I never wondered about this, I just thought it was what He did.
While we aren’t going to look into each instance, hopefully we’ll look at enough of them to see if the Bible tells us why. For the most part it is the Lord’s intentionality, in all the miracles recorded where he was basically introducing Himself to the world as the promised Messiah by revealing His divine nature, limitless compassion, and absolute authority over nature.
Jesus kicks things off at a wedding where they ran out of wine. John 2:1-11 tells us all about it.
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
There are several theologians who have their theories of why this is the first miracle recorded and they have good points, and let’s face it, they are probably right. However, for me this miracle speaks to the fact that God cares about what is important to us. Running out of wine at a wedding feels pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of things but to this family, it would have been very embarrassing if people had found out, but people didn’t find out. In fact, they looked even better because the wine Jesus made wasn’t the cheap stuff. He came in clutch with the good stuff. Jesus took care of them and because he took care of them, He accomplished way more than a simple party trick. He revealed His glory and his disciples believed in him.
Next, Jesus healed an official’s son, cast out an evil spirit from a man, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and healed many who were brought to him sick and demon-possessed.
Then there was the miraculous catch of fish, and another healing, this time of a man with leprosy. Leprosy made a person unclean and to the Jewish people back in the day, being unclean was a BIG deal. Basically, for however many years this man had leprosy he could not be touched, he was separated from his family and from the community. He would have lived outside of town and he couldn’t work a job. So on top of being sick and losing parts of his body to this terrible disease, there is a really good chance he was lonely, alone, hungry, a beggar with so many physical and emotional needs not met and he was an outcast.
Matthew 8:1-4 says,
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’
With His first recorded miracle, turning water into wine Jesus communicates that He cares about what is important to us. In regards to healing the man with leprosy, He communicates that he is willing to heal us miraculously.
Let’s not allow the sweetness of the Lord to ever be lost on us.
After this miracle, Jesus heals the servant of a Centurion, and a paralyzed man whose friends basically ruined a person’s roof in order to get him to Jesus as they lowered him down into the house. Then heals a man with a withered, unusable hand, raises the son of a widow from the dead, calms a storm on the sea, and casts a lot of demons out of two men and sent them into some pigs. And that was just on a Tuesday…
I’m kidding, but do you ever really stop to think about what you are reading when you read the Bible? Can you imagine what it must have been like to watch all those miracles happen?
Y’all those men were so out of their minds because of the demon possession, the Bible says they were so violent no one could pass that way.
Can you imagine, being on the boat when Jesus calmed the storm? One minute you are afraid you are going to die and the next, Jesus is saying, “Silence! Be still!” and the winds and the waves listened to Him?!?
Y’all, let’s not get too comfortable with these stories that they lose their magnitude. The fact that Jesus said a thing and the natural elements of weather obeyed? Mind blown.
At this point I’ve only mentioned thirteen of the 37 miracles but are you seeing something that the people who need the miracle have in common?
They have a need. They are in need and over and over, the Bible describes Jesus as having compassion on them.
Matthew 14:14 says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
In Mark 8:2 Jesus said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat.” So then he fed over four thousand people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish.
In Matthew 20:29-33 it says,
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. ‘Lord,’ they answered, ‘we want our sight.’ Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
Do you find it at all humbling that Jesus, the Son of God, would stop and look at you and ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” I do! I’ve been a breath away from weeping all week because of it.
It would be really easy for us as Christ Followers to sit back in false humility and say, “Jesus, you have already done enough! You died for me. You paid the penalty of my sin with your very life. I should be asking you what YOU want ME to do for you!”
I’m not saying that is a wrong perspective to have but how many of us can honestly say that without thinking of a few other things we’d like for Him to do for us.
Sweet Friends, both can be true. We can be thankful and content in the saving knowledge of Christ while also wanting Him to do something else for us. That doesn’t make us terrible humans, that just makes us humans and Him, God.
So I’ll ask again, for Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Did you notice the word is not “need”? He did not say to the blind men, “What do you need me to do for you?” He said, “What do you want me to do for you?”
God is so kind that He would care about what we want!
I grew up in a church tradition that had a hard time asking for miracles, needed or wanted. They usually prayed like this, “Lord, Brother So And So is sick. If it is your will, would you heal Him? We ask for you to heal Him but if that is not your will, we trust you.”
It wasn’t until years later when I was in another church that they took us back to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Some translations call it The Model Prayer because Jesus says in verse 9, “Therefore, you should pray like this:…
“…Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Your will be done as it is in heaven. Is there sickness in heaven? No, so if I’m praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, I can boldly pray that prayer! I can claim health and healing in a body because Jesus told me that this is how I should pray.
To be clear, death will happen to all of us and sometimes He heals people by taking them home and sometimes a body isn’t restored to full health. I know that. Those are natural consequences in this fallen world, but if it’s a question of what is in the heart of God, I can boldly pray that His first choice, His perfect choice, His Garden of Eden choice, is for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Along the same lines, I grew up in a church tradition that said we don’t see as many miracles in this day and age because Jesus only did those to show his power and glory to prove who He was and since He isn’t here any more that is why there aren’t as many miracles.
Okay…are there still sunsets that take our breath away? Are there still vast mountain ranges that speak to a majesty we can’t comprehend? Are the intricacies of life in every species still mind blowing? Yes? Okay, then I would argue God is still very much interested in making his glory known to the world.
Like the first miracle, does God still care about what is important to us? Yes.
Like the blind men he gave sight to, does He still have compassion on us? Yes!
God does not change. The divine nature of Jesus has not changed. He is STILL the God of miracles.
It is us who have changed. We have allowed the fallen world to make us cynical and pessimistic, believing that the only way we can have what we want is by pulling up our bootstraps and handling business on our own.
Well, here’s what I know to be true…cynicism and pessimism are diseases that eat away at your hope and belief that God only has good things to give you and, with authority, I can tell you that God wants you to answer this question.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
There is a time and a place for us to list and document and remember all the miracles God has already done in our lives. A heart full of thanksgiving is essential to the Christ Follower. What is equally as important is breathing hope into our sails that there are still good gifts He longs to give us.
But are we asking for them? Are we striving hard after them trying to get them for ourselves?
Sweet Friends, God will not share His glory with any one! I’ll go back to the definition of miracle…Such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard and there are often times when God requires us to move, and do, and ask in order for His miracle in our lives to come to pass, but the glory is His and His alone.
What do you want Him to do for you? Are you in the middle of a season so hard you can’t imagine it ever working out? He is still the God of Miracles! He has not changed! But it’s time for us to be audacious and bold.
Going back to Matthew 20, verse 30.
Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’
The crowd rebuked them.
Time for another definition. Rebuke; to express sharp, stern disapproval of, to reprimand.
The blind men were in great need so it didn’t matter to them that they were rebuked by people who had no idea what it was like to walk in their shoes. The Word says they shouted all the louder!
And what was Jesus’ response? He was not annoyed or angry. He did not rebuke them. He asked them a question.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
Sweet Friends, I know answering this question is risky. I imagine that every one of you have asked the Lord for multiple things over the years and He has answered you with a “no”, or even worse, silence. I have experienced the same and I know how hard that can be. But do you know what? I’m still going to encourage you to be brave and answer Him.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
The Lord cares about what is important to you. He has compassion for you. He is trustworthy. He is ready to give you things you don’t even know to ask for yet.
My life is only going to get even faster and more furious over the coming weeks and one day soon, I promise to tell you why, but in the meantime, please trust me. The kindness of God is overwhelming and He sees you!
Until next time, sweet friends,
Thank you for being here.
Remember to take deep breaths.
And God has got us!