Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Miracle Man

Crash Course 5
            You can’t discuss Jesus and not talk about miracles.
            A few years ago, I found this definition of a miracle, and I’ve taught it to my students ever since:  An unusual event, requiring a supernatural agent, that authenticates the message or the messenger. (I would credit the source, but I don’t remember it.)
            In plain English that means a miraculous event is not an everyday ordinary event. It’s not accomplished by humans alone without God's help. It’s done to reveal the identity of the miracle worker or the truth of his message.
            Of course we toss around the word “miracle” in everyday language. That’s okay so long as we recognize that’s not how it’s being used in the Bible. I’ve heard people gush over the miracle of a new baby. (Um, we know what causes that. And it happens a lot.) Now when Mary conceived Jesus without Joseph’s help, THAT was a miracle.
            Or the miracle of modern medicine. Believe me, I am very thankful for the brilliant, skilled doctor who put two titanium plates and ten screws in my right ankle last November. However, I believe he went to medical school to learn how to do that. Now if the second set of x-rays had revealed no fractures, THAT would have been a miracle.
            If everything is a miracle, then nothing is a miracle.
            One of my favorite miracles happened fairly early in Jesus’ public ministry, before his disciples had quite figured out who he was.
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4, NIV)
            What were his disciples expecting when they wakened Jesus? The squall that quickly hit them was so turbulent that these professional fisherman feared they would drown. What did they want when they asked Jesus, “Don’t you care?” Did they hope he would help row the boat or bail water, or at least commiserate with them?
            I don’t think they were expecting Jesus to address the wind and waves as rowdy children on a Saturday morning. “You guys settle down! I’m trying to get some sleep!” The complete calm following Jesus’ words created terror in the hearts of his disciples. Now they had a bigger issue than a storm to deal with.
            They had to decide, “Who is this?” 

Even the wind and waves obey him, even the stormy sea.
Even the wind and waves obey him--why shouldn't we?

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