When you grow up in church, like I did, it’s easy to get used to hearing stories of Jesus’ miracles; to the point where we miss their significance. The story of how He healed a leper doesn’t have the same punch the twentieth time you hear it. Our reaction tends to be “He’s God, of course He can do that” or “He healed that guy. That’s nice” and then we move on without giving it a second thought. It’s not a bad thing to be familiar with Jesus’ miracles; just the opposite, but the nature of Jesus’ miracles reveals a very important truth about Him. As we all know, He healed people, cast out demons, and fed massive crowds. All nice things, but there’s more to it than just “Jesus is nice.” You don’t need me to tell you that. Furthermore, that wasn’t the main purpose of Jesus’ miracles.
Jesus did miracles, not just so people would think He was nice, or so that people would feel better, but primarily to authenticate His message. Throughout the Bible, miraculous signs have been used by God to authenticate His messengers, so that His people would know the message was from Him. Jesus’ miracles served the same purpose; they were God’s seal of authenticity on Jesus’ message that He was the Messiah.
Jesus didn’t have to authenticate His message with nice miracles; he could easily have opted for displays of raw power, like was show in Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:36-38, where God sent fire from the sky to vaporize the offering, the altar and the dust from the ground. Pretty impressive, right? He could have done that easily, but He didn’t. He could have vaporized the Pharisees when they said his power was from the devil, but He didn’t, even though that would have gotten His point across. Why not?
Unlike the false gods of the Greeks (who were real jerks), our God is kind and compassionate. Unlike the Muslims’ god, our God does not demand that his followers slay the infidels, and He certainly takes no joy from their death, see Ezekiel 33:11. We serve the God who chose to herald His coming with compassion and mercy, culminating in the sacrifice of Himself to make His people fit to be in His presence, not a god who demands war, conquest, and his followers’ own deaths.
Remember that next time you hear an angry anti-theist declaiming about how terrible they think God is. He chose to authenticate Himself with love and compassion towards the suffering; that is how full of love He is. That is not the action of a cosmic dictator, but of a God who cares deeply for people.
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