Monday, December 7, 2009

And trying my hand at an answer, part 2

This series began with a question on the post found here, and then I answered partially on the post found here, and will continue that answer today. I will do a final post, part 3, as a wrap up and summary in the next few days.

Just to give context, the question posed to me was this:

Why were miracles performed in biblical times, but, they aren't performed now? And I'm not talking 'the cancer is in remission' kinda miracles...I'm talking water into wine miracles...parting of the sea miracles.

I don't understand the mystery. Why does God have to be so elusive? It seems kinda mean, and unfair to us...the generations of people after Jesus...who don't get to see the works of God. In biblical days, they could see, feel, and talk to Jesus. If they had a question, it could be answered. I mean, for those people...they had cold hard facts.

We don't have that luxury. And I guess I kinda answered my own question...there is no physical manifestation of God here today, so we don't have miracles.

That still doesn't seem fair.

This post will focus on the part of the question that deals with Jesus, and the generation that walked with Him on this earth and witnessed His miracles up close and personal. Again, I will try not to ramble, but this could get lengthy, as well.

The Bible talks a lot about miracles when it talks about Jesus.

The first miracle associated with Jesus that I'd like to talk about is some direct prophecy. In the spirit of Christmas, I want to point to some verses predicting the birth of a miracle Child, written approximately 700 years before Christ was born.

Isaiah 7:14 - “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6 - “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

So, this baby was born. And all of Israel had been keeping their eyes out for just such a baby, the Messiah that would take the government on His shoulders. At the time Jesus was born, Israel was under Roman rule, so this was especially appealing to them. They desired release from their oppression and felt their Messiah was just the one to do that for them.

Then Jesus comes into the picture. He heals the sick and lame, makes the blind see and the deaf hear. He casts out demons and declares sin forgiven. He fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and some fish. Twice. I could go on and on and on.

He performed miracles day in and day out, in order to show His power was from God (Mark 2:1-12).

From here, 2000+ years later, it seems simple. Its obvious. He is a powerful man, and if only we could have laid our eyes on Him, it would be so easy to believe.

I want to suggest that perhaps for them, the fact that they could lay their eyes on Him was a major obstacle to belief. I think they were looking for something else, probably political might that would overthrow the Roman government. They certainly did not think that their Messiah would be teaching against the religious leaders of the day. They had expectations He did not meet. It is interesting to examine the way they responded to Him.

They opposed Him. (Mark 2:6-7) They did their best to trap Him with questions (Matthew 22:15, Luke 20:26, John 8:6). They tried to stone Him (John 8:59, John 10:31). They said He got His power from the devil.

Most of those walking with Him did not believe the miracles they were privileged to see.

Those who knew Him best believed the least.

He did have followers, and friends, though. And while they walked with Him, learning from Him for three years, when He was arrested, they betrayed Him, abandoned Him and denied Him.

And when it came right down to it, the generation that walked with the Christ, the Living God, God in the Flesh come to save us from our sins, the generation that witnessed those miracles firsthand...

They killed Him.