One night a wife found her husband standing over their infant’s crib. As she watched him looking down at their very first child, she saw on his face a mixture of emotions: disbelief, delight, amazement, skepticism, enchantment. Touched by this unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, with eyes glistening she slipped her arm around her husband. “A penny for your thoughts,” she said. “It’s amazing!” he replied. It’s just amazing. I just can’t see how anybody can make a crib like that for only $66.95.”
A devout cowboy lost his Bible while mending fences out on the range. Three weeks later, a cow walked up to him carrying the Bible in its mouth. The cowboy couldn’t believe his eyes. He took the precious book out of the cow’s mouth, raised his eyes heavenward and exclaimed, “It’s a miracle!” “Not really,” said the cow. “Your name is written inside the cover.” Miracles of miracles.
I want to talk to you this morning about whether or not you’ve got room in your faith for miracles. Perhaps it’s true we would believe if we had to believe, if we really had to believe, but until the time comes we’d rather not. Some people however don’t have the luxury of choosing.
“While (Jesus) was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’” There was nowhere else he could turn; there was nobody else who could turn his world right side up again. It was Jesus and a miracle, or nothing.
Perhaps you’re someone who enjoys the luxury, the good fortune, of life’s good fortune smiling upon you, so you’re free to choose to believe or not to believe. How nice it has been to have the option of believing in a God of the Bible or the option of calmly adding everything up on heaven and earth and concluding, even pontificating, “Well, from where I sit, it appears if there actually were a God then things would certainly be better than they
are. I could do a better job than this. Therefore, there must be no such thing as God.”
Now of course we don’t want to find ourselves in such a situation where faith is our one and only option. Who wants to be a blind man begging for sight or someone who can’t speak praying for the touch to untangle a tongue? Nobody. But if we don’t find ourselves in such a condition or situation, will we ever have such faith? In other words, we may only come to a faith that includes miracles if we’re living a life that’s in a mess.
Fortunately, the miracles we see in scripture are happening a lot closer to home and heart than we think. We just have to open our eyes.
Each day, a boy quietly loaded up a backpack and headed out of his home in the Philippines to take a secret walk. Curious, one day his dad followed him and was completely stunned by what he saw. His son was taking food to a pack of stray dogs that were infected with mange. The puppies showed their gratitude, and the dad was moved. He had previously looked at the dogs with mild disgust, but suddenly felt his heart swell for these poor dogs.
The proud dad’s view was completely changed when he witnessed his son’s kindness in action. He now helps his son feed the animals and plans to treat the dogs’ mange and help find them forever-homes. The son dreams of opening an animal shelter one day.
His eyes were opened! He could speak about his son with words of deep pride! This was a man blind and mute—blind to what his son saw and mute in speaking about his boy with the amazement and joy he now speaks about him. Someone may not think this is much, certainly not a miracle of biblical proportions, but they would be wrong.
Have you ever known a father who just couldn’t see his son in the right way, as he should? Have you ever heard a dad who simply couldn’t talk to his son in the way he needed? That father is blind to the power God bestowed in him; that son is desperate for the fatherly grace to be made whole, to be seen as he really is and to hear the word he ought to hear. It’ll take a miracle.
Dads, men, take a look at your relationships. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been a certain way. It’s never too late for a miracle. They happen at any moment. God is a God that’ll take any opportunity, any heart, any relationship, and turn it around in a flash. As scripture says, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new!” 2Cor.5:17 Make something new happen between you and a loved one. A real man is a man of God with the Lord’s strength to do miraculous things.
Our story of Jesus’ healing the blind men says, “Then he touched their eyes.” It’s amazing how many times that word, touch, is written in stories about Jesus. We hear when he was with a leper, “He touched him, saying, ‘I will; be made clean.’” In the case of Peter’s mother-in-law, “He touched her hand, and then the fever left her.” In chapter 9:25 he went in and took the little girl by the hand. He touched her hand. So over and over again we find our Lord touching those he heals.
Don’t be afraid to be touched by God. Let Christ come closer to you, close enough to touch you, to touch your hand and your heart. Take down the barriers to an inside-out faith in Christ.
I wish we could start all over again with our faith. I believe we have been confused. We’ve heard so many ideas from such a variety of people that the cumulative effect has not necessarily been all that good.
If you could start all over, if you could clear out everything you’ve heard or seen, starting with perhaps your parents who tried to teach something that unfortunately wasn’t all that helpful, or what some who called themselves a Christian did to you , or what you read that “showed” you how Christian faith can’t be true, if you could clear all that away and start fresh, I would have you start in one place and one place only:
I would start you where all those people were who needed Jesus of Nazareth to touch them.
I believe we each have that place. I believe you’re in need of a miracle, in need of Jesus’ touch. I am sure you have a blindness, a muteness, a dead spot, an illness in you that needs a miracle to make you see, to let you speak,
to bring you life, to make you well. Stop hiding it, stop running from it, stop burying it, stop denying it. Let it come up. Let it rise to the light. You’re going to be better off. Give yourself a break. It wasn’t your fault. Let yourself be forgiven, if it was. That’s who Jesus is and what God does through him.
We’ve got all this stuff packed so hard down inside of ourselves, inside of our hearts and souls, that our spirit is working on 10% oxygen and 90% suffocation. That’s no way to live. Free yourself from such weight and baggage, anger and shame, guilt and fear, lies and foolishness. Let Jesus touch you, heal you, bring you relief and peace, joy and real life.
But here’s the thing: What Jesus asked those he asks us: What do you really want? Do you want to be made whole? Do you believe I can do this? Say “Yes, Lord.” Let God create in you a clean heart, a new and right spirit. Make walking with Christ the miracle you’ve needed your whole life.
Thomas Jefferson is a bit famous for taking a Bible, cutting out anything that didn’t square with his very square and rational Christian faith, and then making his own Bible. He took out some scissors and good bye Jesus turning water into wine, feeding 5,000 people, raising Lazarus and the little girl, and healing the eyes and tongue of the blind men and the mute we encounter today. He created a book that was only Jesus’ teachings.
The Jefferson Bible as it’s called ends with this line: “There laid they Jesus: and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” That’s it. No more. No miracles and no resurrection in that Bible. You certainly won’t find our story in there. I’m sure he also wouldn’t have included that stuff from the Hebrews letter about Jesus being the exact imprint of God.
Now perhaps someone here knows the gospels well enough to know that this is where the original Gospel according to Mark ended as well. So I need to respond to that.
The difference between Jefferson and Mark is that Mark is chock full of miracles prior to that abbreviated ending. In his gospel, Jesus is a man of action, not given to saying or teaching much. He’s healing here, exorcising demons there, raising up the lame while telling them their sins are really
forgiven, giving sight to the blind and getting rid of leprosy from lepers. You can stumble only a few feet reading Mark before you find Jesus walking on water, calming the sea, and feeding multitudes of people with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. Jesus keeps showing off the kingdom of God like it’s free or something.
The Jefferson Gospel and Mark’s Gospel have really nothing in common.
The truth is our faith, Christian faith, has always and will forever speak and teach of miracles, of fabulous and God-blessed happenings when Jesus Christ is present with people who come to him with heart and hope in hand. So don’t give away miracles. Hold on to them or reclaim them from the deleted files of your faith.
We ought to pray for miracles in our life and for this church. Believe God can do something we can only hope for. And then we need to work as if a miracle is going to happen so that when it does we’re ready for it. Let’s not be embarrassed by our miracle-based faith. If you need a little help with it, start by seeing miracles occurring in smaller packages more frequently.
After all it’s very likely true that whatever you’re praying for and believing in, still stranger things have happened. That phrase ought to remind us that wonderful, miraculous, unexpected, unexplained things happen all the time, every day, all over God’s creation.
Did you hear about Howie the cat? Yes, I just said Howie the cat. He’s a cat that traveled 1,000 miles across the Australian outback to reunite with his family. But if you don’t think that’s a miracle then go ahead, you try it. Or how about the woman who was inexplicably rescued from her submerged vehicle. They’re still not sure how she got out of her car when it was totally underwater and all the windows rolled up. Another person had a near death experience that’s inspiring people all over the world.
In light of these amazing things, your prayer for a miracle may not seem like such a big stretch. After all, more miraculous things have happened.
The thing is if you don’t have room in your faith for miracles then I’m not sure what your Christian faith can be based on. Thomas Jefferson called himself a disciple of Jesus’ ethical and philosophical teachings—but that’s as far as he would go.
The truth is there are really only two kinds of events or experiences in scripture. The Bible is filled one half with miracles and one half with bad things. In scripture, either something miraculous is occurring or something nasty is happening. That’s because God is awfully busy in the 24-7, 365 days of the year business of constantly overcoming what’s gone wrong. Miracles are how the work gets done.
Either you get Eve being created out of Adam’s rib so he can have a partner who is flesh of his flesh or you get them eating fruit they weren’t supposed to and being shown the door. Either you get Hebrews enslaved in Egypt or you get Hebrews fleeing Egypt a free people. Either you get them pursued by Egyptians soldiers about to do them harm or you see them crossing the Red Sea on dry land and escaping. Either you get Jesus healing someone or you get people conspiring to kill him. Either he is dead and buried or he’s risen and resurrected.
Who do you think is fixing all these things anyway? God, that’s who. Who do you think started us out going in the right direction but when we go off course has to put us back on the right path? God, that’s who. Who do you think decided to come to us in flesh of our flesh to reveal the unending depth of his love, the unstoppable strength of his goodness, and the eternal reach of his grace? God, that’s who. Who do you think is watching over your life and trying to bring good out of bad, better out of worse, a miracle out of a mess? God, that’s who.
Don’t throw out half of the Bible. Don’t settle for the other all-too-human bad half as being the only thing true in scripture. God is a God of the miraculous. Keep faith with the faith. Count on the miracles you see in the Word being the miracles you see in the world, and your life.
I know they’re impressive but they’re more than impressive. They’re true. Can anybody say Amen?