Sunday, July 10, 2016

Day 107: Luke 4:31-44 & Psalm 107 - What Was the Point of Jesus' Miracles?

Today's Reading: Luke 4:31-44 & Psalm 107

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What Was the Point of Jesus' Miracles?

"And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region." - Luke 4:36-37, ESV

Why did Jesus perform miracles? Many Christians would answer, "To show that He was God." And that may be part of the explanation, but I think it misses the bigger picture. 

Many Old Testament prophets performed miracles. Moses called down the ten plagues on Egypt and parted the Red Sea. He was not God and was not trying to prove that he was. He was God's appointed representative to confront Pharaoh, which he did.  Joshua was empowered by God to make the sun stand still in the sky, but he wasn't God. Elijah and Elisha also performed many miracles, some of which were similar to those done by Jesus. Again, these miracles did not prove that these prophets were God incarnate, because they weren't.

Romans 1:4 says that Jesus "was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead," not by His miracles. So, why do miracles? It was partly to demonstrate who He was, but more specifically to show that He was the Christ, the long-awaited Anointed One, the Messiah. He acted as God's chosen one, anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

His miracles also authenticated His teaching. Jesus taught with great authority, and then He validated that authority by casting out demons, healing the sick, etc. His actions pointed to the validity of His words. It was His preaching that was most important for people to hear. He says in verse 43, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” So, while Jesus did miracles, the purpose for which He was sent was to "preach the good news of the kingdom of God." After all, a blind man might receive sight and see for a lifetime, but if He receives the kingdom, He will see forever! 

Finally, Jesus' miracles demonstrated His love and anticipated His full kingdom reign. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was moved with compassion for the crowds of people, He was moved by their ignorance of God's kingdom and their need for the truth, but He was also moved by their suffering. Jesus loved the people and served their physical and spiritual needs. He also gave people a preview of what life will be like in His eternal glorious kingdom, when all sickness, blindness, disability and demonic possession will be done away with forever! 

We can have confidence that Jesus is the Christ, that His word is truth, that His heart if loving and that His coming again will end all suffering forever all because of His great miracles. To think that such authority and power is exercised at the right hand of God now for us and for our salvation is amazing. It should lead us to worship, gratitude and deeper discipleship. 

Prayer Based on Psalm 107:

We give thanks to You, O Lord, for You are good,
    for Your steadfast love endures forever!
Ae are the redeemed of the Lord,
    whom You have redeemed from the gravest trouble
and have gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

Some of Your people wandered in desert wastes,
    fleeing from the violence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria,
    finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
    their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to You, O Lord, in their trouble,
    and You delivered them from their distress,
    even as You did for the Israelites in the wildnerness so many years ago.
You led them by a straight way by the hands of Moses and Joshua
    till they reached a city to dwell in,
    and You lead Your people now.
Let us all thank You, O Lord, for Your steadfast love,
    for Your wondrous works to the children of man!
For You satisfy the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul You fill with good things.

Some of Your people have sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against Your word, O God,
    and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So You bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
    they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to You, O Lord, in their trouble,
    and You delivered them from their distress.
You brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
    and burst their bonds apart.
Such was the state of all of us under the chains of sin and death,
   under the tyranny of the devil because of our rebellious hearts.
And so we thank You, O Lord, for Your steadfast love,
    for Your wondrous works to the children of man!
For You shatter the doors of bronze
    and cut in two the bars of iron,
    setting us free from bondage to sin and Satan.

Some of us have fools through our sinful ways,
    and because of our iniquities suffered affliction;
    and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to You, O Lord, in their trouble,
    and You delivered them from their distress.
You sent out his word and healed them,
    and delivered them from their destruction.
We thank You, O Lord, for Your steadfast love,
    for Your wondrous works to the children of man!
We offer You the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
    and we will tell of Your deeds in songs of joy!

You, O Lord, turn rivers into a desert,
    springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste,
    because of the evil of its inhabitants.
You also turn a desert into pools of water,
    a parched land into springs of water.
And there You let the hungry dwell,
    and they establish a city to live in;
they sow fields and plant vineyards
    and get a fruitful yield.
By Your blessing they multiply greatly,
    and You do not let their livestock diminish.
We are abundantly blessed, 

    and it all comes from Your hand! 

When we are diminished and brought low
    through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
You pour contempt on princes
    and make them wander in trackless wastes;
We are seeing Your judgment even now against America,
   for evil and oppression,
   for the murdering of innocent lives,
   for the rejection of truth and goodness.
But You raise up the needy out of affliction
    and make their families like flocks.
The upright see it and are glad,
    and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

Make us wise that we may attend to these things;
    let us consider the steadfast love of the Lord.
Let our hearts be wholly Yours,
   and let us give You thanks and praise and love forever!  

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