Have you ever experienced a miracle? I’m talking a bona fide miracle? I’m not talking about the non-supernatural way we can use the word “miracle”. If we’re honest, we can use the word “miracle” in some very mundane situations. For example, “It was a miracle I got to work on time because Route 30 was a parking lot.” Or how about this one, “It was a miracle my team won that game.” Or “It was a miracle the baked corn tasted good because I forgot to add the sour cream.”
Many events we call miracles are not miracles. In fact, it’s quite possible we over-use the word “miracle” and are in danger of it losing its meaning. It’s no small loss when we start calling non-miracles acts of God. Miracles are those amazing instances of the supernatural impacting the natural. Miracles are God at work, sometimes bending or breaking the laws of nature, sometimes providing or protecting when our hope is dim or gone. Many miracles are unexpected, while some are answers to prayer.
Are miracles rare? Depends on who you ask and how you define miracles. Some people see miracles often. Some not so much. Miracles raise lots of questions in our minds. Is modern medicine and science miraculous? What about technology? If the ancients could see our cars, airplanes, rockets, cell phones, and medical technology, they would likely think each and every one is a supernatural miracle.
Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple, once described the iPad as “magical.” What is the difference between magic and miracle? Magic is the often complex human manipulation of angle, viewpoint, and sleight of hand, sometimes with astounding speed, agility and intelligence, to make it appear that something supernatural has occurred. But in magic, nothing supernatural occurs. Magic tricks can be repeated at will. So Jobs was right about the iPad. It is magical, but it is not miraculous.
This coming week on the blog we resume our study of the life of Jesus in the Gospel of John. We’ll be looking at John 4:43-5:15, an account of two miracles that Jesus performs. We’re familiar with the fact that Jesus is a miracle-worker. As God, it is no surprise that Jesus is able to manipulate the natural with the supernatural. He does so often. What is unique about these two miracles is how the people respond. Two recipients of miracles, two very different responses.
Join us next week as we learn about the proper and improper response to miracles!