Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Miracles and the Faith

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
John says that the Jews asked him for signs to prove that he was authorized to do these things. Jesus doesn’t work that way. It is an odd thing, his miracles. Many try to discount miracles using Hume’s flawed arguments against them. If the Twentieth century has taught us anything it is that we don’t know enough about the universe and the laws of nature that govern it to determine what is against the laws of nature and what isn’t. And even if we did, the idea that God couldn’t break the laws of nature is a bit odd. In any case, Jesus doesn’t ever bow to the pressure of proving himself with miracles. Their record for creating faith is poor in any case. One needs only think of Pharaoh. And when the Pharisees do see the miracles they accuse Jesus of black magic and being an agent of Beelzebub.
Jesus doesn’t use miracles to prove himself. He doesn’t use miracles to create faith, though one could say that faith itself is a miracle of God, it’s definitely a divine intervention. Jesus does miracles for those who already believe. He does miracles for the centurion. He does miracles for the Canaanite woman. He heals the sick, makes the lame to walk and on each occasion he praises their faith. When he comes to his home town he doesn’t do miracles because of their lack of faith. One almost gets the impression that the miracles depend on the faith of the person asking for them, but of course that isn’t true. God can do what he wants where he wants, regardless of the faith of the person receiving the benefit. One only needs to think of Naaman, and one could argue Pharaoh’s hardness of heart didn’t prevent Moses from doing miracles either.
Jesus refuses, he tells them there will be one miracle, tear this temple down and I will rebuild it in three days. Jesus often tells them this. The sign of Jonah he calls it in mark. This is the sign of sign. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, but then not even this sign will convince everyone. Many just refuse to believe, believing deprives them of being God.

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