Friday, October 30, 2015

MIRACLES: An Objection Answered

A reasonable objection that I have heard recently while interacting on Facebook (paraphrased):

In the Gospels, Jesus healed everyone who asked, but today we do not see everyone who asks being healed. Why don't we see everyone being healed?

But the situation is really much more complex than this. Here is my response:

(1) Jesus did not heal everyone.

a) He did not heal people who did not have faith. Matthew 13:58 makes that clear: "And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." (NIV; also see Mark 6:5)

b) Jesus's disciples were not able to heal everyone (Mark 9:17-29; Matthew 17:14-20).

c) In the Gospels, Jesus does generally seem to heal almost everyone. And in specific situations, it is stated that crowds came to him and he healed everyone who came to him--on those occasions. I think the clear purpose of this is to show that Jesus has complete sovereignty over disease and that he is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, God in the flesh. But if we step back in time a little bit and make a few implications from the Gospel accounts, I think that we will see that there is more to the story. First, it would appear from the Gospel accounts themselves that Jesus's miracles started once he began his ministry and for that very purpose of revealing that he is the Messiah (see John 2:1-11 and pay special attention to verses 4 & 11). With that in mind, there was a period of 30 years in Jesus's life where he did no miracles (at least not publicly). More than that, it appears that Jesus's own father Joseph (actually stepfather) died before Jesus reached the age of 30.

So let me summarize it this way: Sometimes a lack of healing is related to a lack of faith. And sometimes it is related to God's timing and purposes.

Jesus feeding the crowd of 5000 men (heads of household) plus women and children--an account in all four of the Gospels for which there are undesigned coincidences (Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9; John 6). Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

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