MIRACLE TO STRENGTHEN FAITH
Children of God are often confused when it comes to miracles. Some think that nothing spectacular happened in their lives, so they have nothing to testify about the Lord. Only a few people have experienced ‘miracles’ and are thus able to testify that they have been helped by the Lord. This is not right, because the Bible never teaches that.
Our daily life is a big miracle in itself, because our Lord’s work is apparent in our life personally. That is incredible. Today we can think, see, read, write, eat and do other things. That is all a miracle of God that works on us everyday.
From our reading today, we can see the actual role of miracles in believers’ lives.
Do Christians have to experience miracles in order to look spectacular? Are Christians considered spiritual once they experience miracles? How important are miracles? Let’s see that within the context of Mark 2:1-12.
- MIRACLE IS NOT THE MAIN PURPOSE OF JESUS’ MINISTRY
Note that in His ministry, Jesus never prioritized miracles. To Him, miracles are not
important; His teachings are more important. Jesus wanted His followers to understand that to be His disciple, it is not important to prioritize miracles. Instead, His followers must realize that they need the Person Jesus Christ, because He is our Savior.
Verse 1 says that many people went after Jesus, but their main goal was not to
watch miracles. What did they do? Mark 2:2 says: “So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.” (NIV). So they were there to listen to Jesus’ words. I am very afraid that our misconception persists, making us think that miracle is some kind of entertainment. In Capernaum, Jesus did not perform miracles, but He taught His disciples. If in the end He healed someone, that is because of the power of His ministry.
- MIRACLE IS NOT THE MAIN REASON TO BELIEVE
When Jesus met that cripple, He words were: “Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus wanted
to teach many people that the most important thing in our life is forgiveness. What use is healing for the cripple if in the end he won’t be saved by the Lord?
We know of many healthy, wealthy people who own everything. But if we look closely, they often do not have salvation from Lord Jesus. If so, then what is the meaning of life? Maybe such people are happy; they enjoy their wealth which are only temporary, but they would never get a place in the kingdom of Heaven.
Some churches emphasized the importance of miracles. In newspapers, we often find ads saying: “Come to our retreat tonight, those who are crippled, blind deaf will all be healed.” It is not that I do not believe in Jesus’ power to heal or perform miracles. But if healing was so important and publicized, pastors should simply go to hospitals and heal everybody.
Mark 1:44 (NIV): “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” This shows that Jesus does not want people to believe in Him solely because of His miracles.
- MIRACLE IS NOT THE PRIMARY NEED OF BELIEVERS
Too little is our faith if we need miracles in order to believe. Miracles are needed by
those of little faith. Today we are confused in this issue, thinking that receivers of miracles are spectacular, spiritual, holy. But actually, they are people of little faith. When prayers are long not answered, questions are then raised about that person whether the person had sinned that God does not answer the prayer.
I would like to give an example to prove that spectacular miracles are not what we need. Let’s say one day a member of our church want to have a picnic at Puncak. Two buses full of people leave from church to head there. Before departure, the priest prayed for safety along the trip so that everybody could get to destination safely. But let’s say one of the buses, bus A, had one of its tires popped. Bus A then tripped over and crashed into the highway’s bumper. The windows of that bus are shattered. Some of the passengers are injured, from both concussion and shards. Some pass out. Praise God, the bus could still be used to drive up to destination. After everybody received first aid, they all decided to continue their trip and finally they arrived at Puncak safely.
During fellowship at night, the priest then asked who wants to give testimony. Let me ask you then, which bus passengers would be sharing and praise God? Apparently most of the passengers from Bus A praise God. They thank God for protecting their lives despite what happened. On the other hand, Bus B passengers do not say a word, because they did not experience anything spectacular. Look, this is what I mean when I say people are often ‘tricked’. We are tricked into thinking that miracles show God’s providence. Why is that so? If we really wanted miracles, the priest should have prayed for a great accident during the trip, but one that would not kill anybody. Wouldn’t more people then have praised God?
Once again, if one has been saved by Jesus, then salvation is far more important than spectacular miracles. Salvation is eternal but miracles are temporary. If Jesus had to heal that cripple, that was all due to his faith, and also because He wanted to show His power. That miracle was not performed as a way to spread the gospel. Lord Jesus wants us to know Him not as a shaman or doctor who can heal many diseases, but as Lord who rules over everything, including sickness. He can save us like no one can; this is much more meaningful than healing, wealth, position, intelligence and everything else.
- What is true miracle? Do you believe in that miracle? Have you experienced that miracle? If that miracle did not happen in your life, would you still believe in Jesus?
- Many people like spectacular miracles. But they who hope for miracles are actually believers of weak faith. If they want to be transformed by God with true faith, then they would still believe in Him in the absence of His miracles. Do you have such true faith?
BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART
Matthew 5:8 & Psalm 24:3-4
I’m sure that everybody has their own standard of ‘pure in heart’, but we cannot obtain it because we have been smeared by sin. It is thus very difficult to attain such standard of purity. The only way to reach it is to ask for help from Jesus.
“Pure in heart” is composed of two words. “Pure” is often translated as holy. Holy can also mean being separated, or placed in a special place, heading for cleanliness. In gold mining, there is a way to separate the gold from mud and sand. When it comes to the “Heart”, it involves three things: Thought, Will and Emotion. (Psalm 24:3-4).
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”( I Samuel 16:7; NIV). One’s purity of heart cannot be observed outwardly or by medical means. Only God can see through a person’s heart. We can deceive other people, but not God. Never ever deceive the Lord.
When we have evil thoughts, we are automatically inclined to do evil. That’s why we
are attached to our heart and mind. Our mind is often corrupted with negative thoughts. We then have evil motivations, making us impure. If we keep good thoughts, then we are inclined to do good things. Jesus says that we can sin just by thinking. So if we want to be pure, we must first cleanse our mind.
When David came to Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, he was terrified because she got pregnant ( II Samuel 11:4-5). Thus he called Uriah back from the battlefield, so that Uriah could sleep and stay for a few days at home (II Samuel 11:8). This way, Bathsheba’s pregnancy would not look suspicious. This was in David’s mind. What David did, calling Uriah back from the battlefield, looked good; but his intentions were bad. Unfortunately, Uriah was loyal to David. When he returned from the battlefield, he did not stay at his house; he went to the king. One night, David made a fest, hoping that Uriah would get drunk and go home. But Uriah still stayed in the palace. Since David’s thoughts were evil, he then decided to put Uriah at the frontline on the battlefield.
In the end, Uriah got killed. Even then, David said that it is common for people to die on the battlefield. His evil thoughts yielded evil actions. It is very dangerous for people whose heart is not pure.
Quite some time ago, we were surprised to hear that a church activist murdered his priest, because the priest prohibited him from using church facilities for dating. As a child of God, he was supposed to listen and change. But that did not happen; he ended up killing his priest. His impure heart yielded evil thoughts. From this evil mind, evil actions are produced. Many believers sin this way.
Maybe we don’t have the tendency to kill. If a child of God has the thoughts to harm others, then we must question his faith. When someone harms us, hurts us, betrays us or steals our position, what should we do? True Christians must think clearly and pristinely, so that their faith is not weakened by people who are mean to them.
God gives His creatures free will, but that does not mean we can do whatever we
want. I like to define free will as the will that frees us to choose good over evil. People whose heart is ‘pure’ wills what God wills. We often hear people always want to adjust their plans to God’s; that’s wrong. What often happens is that people force God’s will to be the same as their will. This is the problem.
Apostle Paul as human, wanted his illness to be removed from him, but God never healed it ( II Corinthians 12:7). Jesus wanted to avoid His chalice of suffering if possible, because He knew that it was going to be very painful. But Jesus had to undergo that suffering, therefore in His prayer at Gethsemane, Jesus said: “Let Thy will be done, not Mine.”
As children of God, aren’t we supposed to be like that? The prayer that Jesus taught us says “Thy will be done.” Why do we still insist on pursuing our will? The pure in heart will prioritize God’s will over his own. If all Christians do this, there will be no more problems at church. The reality is, personal desires are coerced, causing endless arguments and disagreements. Competition, jealousy, vengeance and everything else can be found at church, simply because of impurity of the heart.
Ideally, a believer should have a stable emotion and temperament, because they are
the products of a pure heart. The power of sin is so great that believers in this world are emotionally unstable. There are many excuses. There are many reasons to condone oneself for this emotional instability. We scapegoat hypertension, stress, work overload, family problems and many other things. People should then understand and sympathize with our circumstances.
God’s word tells us that we must be quick to listen, but slow to speak. God created two ears, yet one mouth. He wants us to listen more and speak less. We should not lose our temper easily. A writer says that irascible people will be embarrassed. One day they’ll regret and apologize.
One of David’s weaknesses is when he felt humiliated by Nabal. He got so upset that he wanted to kill him. Fortunately, Abigail, Nabal’s wife, calmed him down and begged for his mercy (I Samuel 25:9-30). People who are angry should not make any important decisions, because that could be detrimental to others. They should wait till their anger subsides before making any decisions. Christians should keep this in mind, especially if you are a deacon. Anger may lead to wrong church decisions. It’s not surprising that these decisions often cause disagreements and even church separation.
If we want to be truly happy, then our heart must be pure. A pure heart will not host evil thoughts that could harm others. A pure heart always wants the best for others so that they may enjoy their lives. If our heart is not pure, then neither will our mind and emotion be. We will always be paranoid and anxious, so we won’t be able to live peacefully. If we cannot live in peace, how can we be happy? This makes sense, right?
- A Christian must have a pure heart, so that his decisions will glorify God. Frankly speaking, if the heart is impure then the old self must be still influential. If that’s the case, this person will be troubled. What do you think one needs to attain purity of the heart? What are the obstacles?
- Fellowship would be wonderful if everybody prioritized God. If even one person is selfish, then the fellowship will ‘limp.’ Have you been in such a fellowship? What must you do to fix it?