Apologies to my regular readers for the lack of new posts in Matthew… I have been pressed for time recently but will return to it asap. In the meantime let me share a few thoughts on recent readings in Luke.
So here’s a week in the life of Jesus. While boating across the Sea of Galilee, He calms a raging storm with a word. When He and the disciples arrive at the far side, they are met by a demon-possessed man. Jesus sends the demons into a herd of pigs who rush headlong into the sea and drown.
Boating back home again, they are met by Jairus, ruler of the local synagogue, whose daughter is dying. On the way to his house, being hemmed in and jostled by a huge throng of people, Jesus feels power go out of him, and refuses to go further until a woman steps forward and admits to touching Him. She explains she has been bleeding for 12 years. Jesus says, “daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” Before He even has the chance to finish speaking, people come from Jairus’ house saying the daughter has died. Jesus responds “she is not dead but sleeping” and they laugh at Him, but He continues to Jairus’ house and brings the young girl back to life.
OK, so we don’t know for sure that all these events happened in the same week. But they could have. Calming a storm with a word. Returning a madman to his right mind. Healing the hopelessly ill. Raising the dead. Just an average week in the life of Jesus.
With all these miracles going on, why did so many people not believe in Him? Why did so many follow Him only for awhile and then part company? Is seeing really believing? Why did the disciples respond to Jesus’ calming the storm by saying “who is this, that he commands even wind and water and they obey him?” Why did the neighbors of the demon-possessed man become overwhelmed by fear so that they asked Jesus to leave? Why did the mourners laugh at Jesus? If you had been there, would you have been convinced? Would I?
Ultimately it’s Jesus’ love that holds us, the love He showed at the end of Ch 7 to the “sinful” woman who washed His feet with her tears. The miracles are just signposts, attention-grabbers, that cause the initial attraction. Yet some of the questions still stand…
All these things take place in Ch 8 of Luke. Ch 9 then leads off with Jesus giving his disciples power over demons and diseases and sending them out to preach the good news of the Kingdom. Which they do. Later on in scripture Jesus promises His followers that what we have seen Him do, we will do, and even greater works. Why then are there so few legitimate healers and miracle-workers in our day? On the one hand there are plenty of frauds, and on the other hand there are many who teach that miracles ended in the apostolic age, but there are so few who simply make themselves available to God and allow Him to work His miracles through them.
In an age where skepticism and cynicism is at an all-time high and Biblical literacy is headed for an all-time low, we need a faith that is illustrated by miracles. We need the kind of faith through which miracles can happen.