[Nov 14]--The Purpose of Miracles

John 10:31-42

             It always amuses me how Jesus’ worst enemies at least treated him with more respect than many people today who claim to respect him. If you respect someone, then you pay attention to what they say. If Grandpa is getting up in years and is suffering from dementia, we might love him and care about him, but we don’t listen to what he’s saying when he starts talking about space aliens in the backyard. We tend to humor him, but we’re not treating what he says with any seriousness.

            Say what you will about Jesus’ enemies, at least they took what he said seriously. When he claimed to be God’s Son, they didn’t say “Oh, that Jesus! He’s talking whacky again!” No, they knew that he meant what he said and said what he meant. He didn’t mean it in the sense that we’re all God’s children, that God created all of us in his image. He didn’t mean it in the sense of the Greeks or the Eastern mystics, who would have no problem with believing that someone walking around was divine in nature. No, Jesus said this in the sense of Creator God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sending his Son to earth. The Almighty taking on human flesh. That’s the sense in which they took it. And Jesus didn’t correct their interpretation of what he said. He didn’t say “Uh, guys, put the rocks down. Let me clarify what I meant. . .”

            What did Jesus mean in his response? He pointed them to Psalm 82:6, in which God calls some unjust judges “gods” and pronounces judgment upon them. Jesus’ point is that Scripture sometimes uses the word “god” to refer to beings other than God himself. Now, before you argue that this discounts the main point of the last paragraph, take a look at the last part of vs. 36. In other words, Jesus is saying “If Scripture calls those human judges ‘gods,’ then how much more is it right for me to call myself ‘God,” since I’m the One whom the Father set apart and sent?” He deserves the title of God’s Son so much more than any human pretender.

            Also notice how much weight he attaches to Scripture. He’s not talking about the Torah or the Prophets, but the Psalms. And not even a famous one like the 23rd. The 82nd Psalm is not one of the best-known, but Jesus gives it equal authority with that of the Torah: It cannot be broken.

            Now we get to the point behinds today’s title. As I mentioned yesterday, there’s a reason why John’s Gospel calls miracles “signs.” He also takes care in choosing the miracles he includes. There are only seven, which is in stark contrast with the other Gospels. Every “sign” in this Gospel is there for a specific reason. A sign points to something larger than itself, like a sign to a city. The signs are there to point us to Jesus and tell us something about him and why he came. In this case the end result was that people put their faith in him.

            This is a very important thing to keep in mind. Why did Jesus heal the people he did? He didn’t heal everyone he met, as we’ve seen. He fed 5,000 + people in one setting. Why didn’t he feed people all the time? Because the primary purpose of miracles was not for the physical benefit of those healed. Yes, Jesus had compassion on all the suffering people he encountered. But he didn't come primarily to heal. He came to glorify the Father by laying down his life for us.

            That definitely applies today. Does God still heal miraculously? I believe he does. But when he does, it’s not primarily for the sake of the one who’s healed. It’s primarily for his own glory, and we just happen to be the beneficiaries of that. And if he chooses not to heal us in this life, that’s not due to a lack of compassion on his part. He loves you. Just trust his plan. He knows what he’s doing.

Lord Jesus, I do trust you. Whatever you decide to do, it’s fine by me. You’re God’s Son, and you deserve all praise, honor, glory, and obedience.

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