As hard as it is for us to believe, the miracles were a problem for the Twelve.

Mark 7.02We imagine it would be fun to watch Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead … that faith would come easily if you got to witness such wonders … a miracle a day keeps the doubt away.

But for the Twelve, being with Jesus and experiencing the miraculous on a regular basis was an exercise in either jaw-dropping atstonishment or limb-quaking terror. Every day, it was something new, something unexpected, something unbelievable. They saw things each day they simply couldn’t comprehend, couldn’t wrap their minds around. It isn’t easy to watch the laws of nature turned upside down with a wave of the hand. It isn’t easy to go down the rabbit-hole suddenly and without warning.

And Jesus kept raising the ante. He kept pushing the supernatural envelope. First, he healed the sick. Then he healed the sickest of the sick—lepers and paralytics and blind men. Then he tackled the lunatic and demon-possessed—people suffering diseases of the soul rather than the body. Finaly, he played with physics: multiplying loaves and fishes, calming storms, raising the dead.

Every time Jesus performed some wonder, it took the disciples by surprise and left them either speechless or petrified. Every time he stepped up to a new level, the Twelve were blown away. And it wasn’t a pleasant experience for them—contrary to popular conception. The miracles messed with them. The miracles defied them. The miracles terrified and threatened them.

The basic problem for the disciples was one of faith: no matter how hard they tried to believe, they just couldn’t keep up. As soon as they accepted Jesus had the power to heal the body, they were required to admit he had the power to make the senseless sane. No sooner did they recognize he could calm storms, they had to find room in their faith for the raising of corpses.

The miracles constantly and consistently wrong-footed the disciples. Just when they thought they were getting their spiritual sea-legs, Jesus would rock their boat again with some disturbing display of power. And, yet again, they would find themselves on their knees, nauseous, searching for a new horizon line to calm their roiling souls.

Nor was it just the miracles themselves that were difficult. It was the implications of the miracles that were most disturbing.

The miracles always pointed beyond themselves to him. What kind of man heals with a wave of the hand? What kind of man rebukes wind and waves and is immediately obeyed? What kind of man raises dead girls to life?

When the Twelve tore their eyes away from whatever marvel he had just performed, there Jesus was looking at them, a smile playing at his lips, his eyebrow cocking as if to ask, “Do you understand? Do you get it? Now do you see who I am?”

That was the problem with the miracles of Jesus. They didn’t just make you gawp. They made you think!

There were lessons buried in the miracles … inferences and implications the Twelve were meant to draw when they saw the power Jesus possessed. Once they acknowledged the miracle, they had to grapple with what the miracle said about Jesus’ identity. He wasn’t an ordinary man, he was a miracle worker. He wasn’t a miracle worker, he controlled nature.  He didn’t control nature, he commanded demons and death. He was a prophet … no, he was Elijah come again … no, he was the Messiah … no, he was the Son of God.

The miracles asked the Twelve to throw away their notions of what was possible, to step out of the boxes that bounded normal life. The miracles required them to recognize that this man they followed was unlike any man they’d ever met, unlike any man who’d ever lived.

Previous Article in Series

Next Article in Series