The Greatest Miracle of All

We’ve seen how the miracles of other religions always glorify a creature or created thing. But the miracles of the God of Creation always glorify Himself, the messengers He sends, or His message. The Bible lists some 250 miracles.

But what is the greatest miracle of all? Perhaps it’s that God sent his Son to earth to live as a man, work in the heat and cold like the rest of us, and then to die on the cross and rise to life again—all for a race of men who repeatedly reject Him and turn away from Him. What kind of love is this? Before it occurred, who would ever have thought this possible?

We read the story of the crucifixion and resurrection from Luke 23:33–24:9 (NLT):

33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” jesusSavior

44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
47 When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.

49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.

… Here Joseph of Arimathea took the body down from the cross and brought it to his own tomb in a cave in the hillside and there they placed it. The soldiers guarded it and rolled a heavy stone across the entrance…

54 This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.

24:1 But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.

One of the Trinity, a part of God Himself, appearing on earth in human form, had died for mankind. And then Jesus rose again from the grave. This, surely, is the greatest miracle of them all. That God would send His Son to die for us.

This is the last blog in the “Miracles” thread. I will begin a new thread the first week in June. The subject? The meaning of life.

God At Work Today

The question before us is whether we have examples of God at work today performing “miracles”.

For one example we turn to David Platt’s book, Radical, which describes one such encounter. java-indonesiaWhile in Indonesia, Platt met a young seminary graduate, Raden. Platt gives us Raden’s story:

“ ‘Before I became a Christian, I was a fighter. I learned ninja, jujitsu, and a variety of other techniques for taking people down.

“ ‘One day I was sharing the gospel in an unreached village with people who had never heard of Jesus. I was in one house sharing Christ with a family, and the witch doctor from the village came to the house.’ Witch doctors and magic men are common in villages like these. They hold sway over entire communities with their curses and incantations.

“ ‘The witch doctor called me out,’ Raden said. ‘He wanted me to fight him.’ Raden smiled as he confessed, ‘My first thought was to walk out there and take the witch doctor down. But when I turned to go outside, the Lord told me that I no longer need to do the fighting. God would do the fighting for me.’

“So Raden walked outside, pulled up a chair, and sat down in front of the witch doctor. He told his challenger, ‘I don’t do the fighting. My God does the fighting for me.’

“Raden recounted what happened next, ‘As the witch doctor attempted to speak, he began to gasp for air. He was choking and couldn’t breathe. People came running to see what was wrong and within a few minutes the witch doctor had fallen over dead.’

“By now the entire village had crowded around the scene. Raden said, ‘I had never seen anything like this, and I didn’t know what to do. But then I thought, I guess this is a good time to preach the gospel.” Raden smiled and said, ‘So that’s what I did and many people in that village trusted in Christ for the first time that day.’”

Platt goes on to discourage, as an established church-growth policy, the permanent dispatching of your pagan opponents through the Holy Spirit. But the point of the story is that today, even in our age, God is at work. This might be counted as a minor miracle. A witch-doctor, an enemy of God, tried to halt the preaching of the gospel. The Holy Spirit struck him dead. The result? The gospel was preached.

Next time we’ll look at the greatest miracle of all and the last entry in this blog thread.

Miracles Today?

Why don’t we see any big, biblical-order miracles occurring in the world today?

Joshua_passing_the_River_Jordan_with_the_Ark-Benjamin-WestOne answer is that most of the 250 miracles recorded in the Bible occurred during narrow periods in biblical history when God was revealing new truth and confirming new messengers. Most of the miracles occurred during the lifetimes of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, and the Apostles. There were long periods, hundreds of years, when no miracles occurred. Why? Because God had no new truth to reveal or messenger to confirm.

Today the Bible is complete. We are waiting for the end of history and the coming again of Christ. Until those days begin—and it may not be long—we shouldn’t expect any big, cinematic miracles worthy for another Charlton Heston to show us on the screen.

A second question: Are miracles occurring today on a smaller scale, unnoticed by the media?

The answer is yes. For several years I was on the missions team of Calvary Evangelical Free Church. While there I took the “Perspectives on the World Christian Mission” class. This is an intensive, fourteen-week course focusing on world missions. In each class there is a guest speaker, several of which were missionaries who served in remote, spiritually dark areas of the world. Their stories were eye-opening. The most common miracle they reported—sometimes to their own astonishment—was miraculous healing. They prayed for the sick and were able, through the Holy Spirit, to heal persons their families had given up for dead. One missionary reported that several of them fasted and prayed for a demon-possessed woman. After they laid hands on her, she became like a new person.

It’s easy to scoff at such stories. But these were not televangelists standing in front of a television audience asking for donations. They were sober servants of God who sacrificed comfort, an easy life in America, to go to remote, dangerous locations. And because they confronted spiritual darkness head-on, God gave them the power to heal and exorcise demons. There seems to be a principle that where spiritual light meets the darkness, God more often works through his servants using miracles.

Next time we’ll look at a modern-day example of a miraculous event in a remote region.