Friday, June 23, 2006

Receiving a Miracle

Matthew 13.53-58 relates the story of the people of Nazareth not believing in Jesus because they knew him and his family so well. Verse 58 ends the account by saying that Jesus did not do any miracles there because of the people's unbelief. However, Mark 6.1-6 tells the same story but says that Jesus could not do any powerful miracles there except for healing a few sick people.

So which is it? Did Jesus choose not to do any big miracles in Nazareth because the people didn't believe in him, or did he have an inability to do big miracles? I have a theory: Perhaps Jesus healed a few sick people because those sick people believed he could do it, but he didn't perform great public miracles--like turning water into wine or multiplying bread and fish--because the people as a whole didn't believe in him. I think that besides the power of the one performing the miracle, the belief of everyone involved is a key ingredient.

Matthew 9.27-31 relates a story of Jesus healing some blind men. Before healing them, he asks them if they believe that he can heal them, and they answer that, yes, they do. Jesus replies, "According to your faith, it will be done." The mens' faith plays a part in their receiving a miracle. Jesus reinforces this idea with his disciples in an account in Mark 11.20-26. He tells them that when they pray, they must have complete faith that God will grant their request; in fact, they must believe that what they are asking for is occuring even as they ask it. This principle is demonstrated in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 when a Roman centurian comes and asks Jesus to heal his servant. The centurian tells Jesus not to bother coming to his house because he knows that Jesus has the authority to perform a miracle from where he stands. Jesus commends the man for his faith and says that what he has requested will be done. The man's servant was healed in that very hour. Obviously, the centurion's belief in Jesus' power played a role in the healing of the servant.

The gospels record many instances of Jesus condemning the people because of their lack of belief. Our belief in God's ability to provide is key to our receiving anything from him. Does this mean that if we truly believe that God will do it, we can ask for anything and receive it? I'll discuss that next.

1 comment:

Tony Arnold said...

I have thought about this event many times, much the same thoughts as yours.

My experience in life has led me to lean toward the miracles couldn't happen because of the lack of faith.

When I have been able to pray with the heart illustrated in Mark 11:23-24, the prayers have been granted. These are the experiences that lead me to believer our faith is crucial to allowing God to work.

I don't understand nor can I articulate all the theological dynamics the above statement and Mark 11 imply, but I do believe those dynamics are real.