Sitting in my office, I overheard yet another conversation in the hallway about miracles. Maybe you haven’t been apart of it, but the topic of miracles has been hot around here. It all started with a message Pastor Denny shared that touched on miracles. He tried to help us understand the difference between what happened in the Bible and what happens now. Watch it for yourself, but his basic point, in the context of John the Baptist’s birth, is that the bible contains Miracles with a capital “M” and then there are other miraculous events, but those are miracles with a small “m”.
I remember this message clearly because AS SOON as it was over, I had a couple asking me questions to clarify what was a miracle and what wasn’t?!?!? And the conversations have continued. My goal is not to wade into deep end of the conversation to finally answer the question. However, as I have thought about the conversations swirling around us I think the real question we are all asking is this:
Is God still at work today?
That is what we all want to know. And further…is God still at work today IN MY LIFE? But what is a miracle? I think we can say that a miracle is God at work in two ways…1. To show his complete control over creation and 2. to validate his message to us. It’s interesting how we think about miracles. I have always heard it said that a miracle is when God defies the natural order because he is God. Pastor and writer Tim Keller disagrees. He says,
“We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order.”*
In other words, miracles are just one way that God is putting His world back to the way it was supposed to be in the first place. But here’s the problem: we tend to fall into two extreme groups.
1. We tend to say that supernatural miracles are everywhere or…
2. That miracles really don’t exist.
NOT ONLY THAT…
We tend to underestimate God’s everyday grace to us and his miraculous work everyday in saving souls and rebuilding lives. I think the motivation here is to validate that God is at work among us. And I understand that need. I do. I really do.
I’m not here to side with either group, but to ask two questions based on what a miracle is…Does it show God’s control over his creation? AND Does the miracle point us to the specific person of Jesus? The reason I ask the second question is that miracles in the Bible, specifically in the New Testament, do that. They aren’t just God showing off His power. The New Testament miracles specifically point to the person of Jesus. So the point of everything, including miracles, is Jesus. And I think that this is something we need to hear because even if miracles point to Jesus, we shouldn’t NEED miracles to validate who Jesus is. But it’s easy to fall into that trap. Jesus said it himself!
“‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” -Luke 16:31 NIV
Jesus rising from the dead is the ultimate miracle. My experience has been that God’s word is true and will work everyday miracles in people’s lives. When someone comes to faith, it’s a miracle in the true sense. The world is being restored to it’s natural order and it points us to Jesus. When I went through 12 weeks of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries and survived, it was a miracle. Yes, I was healed by God through a drug. But the world was being restored to it’s natural order and I hope I can keep pointing us to Jesus. So do miracles happen? Yes.
Bottom line for me: Real miracles, big “M” or small “m”, don’t exalt themselves. They reveal God at work and lead us to worship Jesus.
*Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, 95–96.