We have reached the second part of chapter 14 of Matthew’s Gospel, the first of the gospel accounts of the life, death and ministry of Jesus Christ in the New Testament of the Bible.
That chapter records the famous miracle of the feeding of the 5000 from just five loaves and 2 fish. It also contains the account of Peter walking on the water.
The two stories are quite different but have one thing in common. A miracle occurred.
My dictionary says a miracle is an event which cannot be explained by the normal laws of nature and science, and is attributed to a divine agency.
I’d say it is when God intervenes supernaturally to do something which would not otherwise be possible in the normal natural course of events.
As in feeding 5000 people from just 5 loaves and 2 fish; or a human being walking on water. Neither are naturally possible.
For many people they are not possible at all. The reason being that they do not accept that there is any dimension beyond the physical dimension of what we can see and feel and experience. Belief in anything else is pure superstition or self deception.
That would be the case if this world were just physical. It is not, of course. The physical does not explain our world, try as the Materialists might – they cannot explain all the evidence for life after death, or the strange happenings which are recorded in human experience.
The Bible records the message of the Christian faith, and it makes clear that there is a spiritual dimension beyond this physical world.
In that physical world, there is a Supreme Ruler and Creator called God. He is King of this realm and his word is law and his word is Command. He answers to no-one but himself, and he has determined a purpose for this corner of his universe called planet earth, and the human beings who live there.
His plan and his purpose are beyond our understanding and control, yet he has deigned to communicate something of himself and his purpose to us via the events and record of the Bible.
He has communicated from the superior and all powerful realm of the Spiritual into our finite physical existence on this planet at a given moment in eternity.
The most significant and crucial communication came in the form of God born in the flesh and living as a man called Jesus Christ.
That was the ultimate miracle, and the miracle which matters above all other interventions by God is the miracle of the new birth – when God intervenes in the life of an individual to impart his Spirit in them. When God makes himself real to someone, when he grants them the gifts of faith and repentance to see beyond the darkness of the sin in which they are held captive and by which they are blinded.
And if you do not know this, then you need God to open your eyes to see and respond to him. Because he is there and he is real, and his purpose for your life will be achieved.
But let’s be clear, miracles happen because God has decided to intervene, not because we decide he should do something. It was God’s idea to feed the 5000 and it was God’s idea to use such meagre resources to do so.
But in the account of Peter walking on the water, surely that was Peter’s idea ? He asked permission to do so.
Yes he did, because he understood who God was and he had the faith from God to ask. It was God’s inclination in Peter which caused the request and the response. And it was Peter’s fallen humanity which overcame him in unbelief, and caused him to rationally question the fact that he was walking on water – something which is totally impossible for a human being to do.
God decides when he will do a miracle, not us. And God always has a purpose in doing such a thing. With Peter it was to teach him something. With the feeding of the 5000 it was to make a point about doctrine – see Matthew chapter 16, verses 6 to 12.
Ultimately miracles are about teaching us to look to God and obey him. They remind us of his superior place in a superior realm of our existence and they remind us that we are not just physical beings with instincts and physical wants; but that we are spiritual beings with spiritual needs and that we have a spiritual Maker to whom we owe allegiance and indeed our very lives.