1 June 2020
There's a story in the gospels where thousands of people
gathered to hear Jesus speak.
They listened for hours and when it started to get late it became obvious
that the people were really hungry. So Jesus said to his disciples,
'You give them something to eat.'
Obviously they couldn't ring for a pizza delivery even if they'd had the money to pay for it.
So the disciples asked around to see if anyone had any food for sharing.
They only managed to gather five loaves and two fish -
and that surely wasn't going to feed more than 5,000 people.
Jesus told everyone to sit down in groups. He prayed over the food and then asked the disciples to hand it out.
Miraculously, everyone had enough to eat and the disciples picked up twelve baskets full of leftovers. (Mark 6:30-44).
How did that happen? How could one person's packed lunch feed over 5,000 people?
It was a miracle - something that can't be explained by the laws of nature.
A miracle is not luck or coincidence - it's God intervening in the lives of human beings.
We read of many miracles in the Bible.
In the Old Testament, Moses held out his hand over the Red Sea and the waters parted,
allowing the Israelites to escape from their enemies. (Exodus 14:21-31).
God provided food (Exodus 16) and water in the wilderness (Numbers 20).
In the New Testament, Jesus made the blind see, the lame walk, even raised people from the dead
and Peter was rescued from prison by an angel (Acts 12:1-18).
So why did God perform miracles?
Sometimes it was to demonstrate his ultimate power.
In Joshua 10:13 we read that the sun standing still in the sky for a whole day
in the middle of a battle so that the Israelites won.
In those days, many people worshipped the sun, so by stopping it,
God was showing that he had created the sun and was in control of it.
At other times, God performed miracles to validate the person who was speaking on his behalf.
In Acts 3:1-10, Peter and John healed a lame beggar,
so people knew that what they were saying about Jesus was true.
God also did miracles to show his love for people.
Interestingly Jesus did miracles for those three reasons too.
He calmed a storm by speaking to it (Mark 4:35-41),
showing that he had power over the weather.
He healed a paralysed man (Mark 2:1-12) to show that God had sent him and that he could forgive sins.
Then he brought a young girl back to life out of compassion for her and her family (Mark 5:35)
Do miracles still happen today?
Yes, I believe they do. Throughout history, there is evidence that Christians
have still seen miracles happen when they've prayed in Jesus' name.
The book 'The Heavenly Man' tells the story of a Chinese Christian called Brother Yun
who was persecuted for his faith, suffered greatly and was imprisoned,
he had a miraculous escape from a maximum security jail.
When I was working in prison chaplaincy I was witness to a wonderful miracle.
One of our substitute chaplains, David, was diagnosed with stomach cancer;
he was in his early 70's, fit and thought nothing of cycling 40 miles a day, for fun!
He was diagnosed in the April and told he'd be lucky to see Christmas.
He was a man close to God and had an amazing attitude.
He said, 'If God wants to take me fine, I'll be happy to be in his presence;
but if he spares me, that's good too, I can continue to work for him;
it's in his hands.'
He went through two courses of chemotherapy and the tumor continued to grow.
The doctors advised a third course but David refused saying,
'That's enough; you've tried, now it's over to God!'
All through this people all over the country had been praying for his healing.
At the end of the October, David went in for a check-up and the scan revealed the tumor had gone.
The atheist doctor was bewildered and amazed saying, 'This can't have happened.
It's truly a miracle, there is no other explanation.'
David lived another twelve years and the cancer never returned.
As we love and trust in God, let's bring our needs and requests to him
and expect him to intervene miraculously in our world!