When we read of the miracles in the New Testament, we are challenged. In today’s world man’s creation and man-centred concerns preoccupy us. It is difficult indeed to appreciate that there is another dimension to our existence – the spiritual.
The spiritual is beyond mankind’s control. It is the domain of God and it is, in fact, the prevalent and dominant domain. The material world we see is dependent upon the spiritual world we cannot see. With all the technology and science at man’s disposal that Biblical assertion is easy to overlook – many, of course, say that it is a lie, a superstition, an explanation for our existence before the age of Reason and Science dawned to dispel our foolishness.
Yet with all the rational explanations and technology today, the fundamental problems of mankind are by no means solved, are they ? And if we are brutally honest, we see that technology too often assists the expression of what is worst in human nature, as well as providing the positive benefits we all experience.
Mankind is clever and sophisticated, and that deceives human beings into thinking they are self sufficient; that the God concept belongs in the history books; that it is not a serious discussion for today.
I beg to differ.
Human beings will never answer the fundamental questions of our existence, nor learn to live harmoniously together without the wisdom expressed in the Bible.
Agree with it or not, the Bible does provide answers. And believing them is a matter of faith and conviction – and that last is a gift from God, the Bible itself tells us.
So when we read in the Bible about miracles such as those in the second half of chapter 6 in the Gospel of Mark, I believe they occurred. But I also believe that they occurred for a reason. That reason was not that we should pursue and believe in the miraculous, but that we should seek and trust in Jesus Christ the author of those miracles.
The miracles recorded there tell us a great deal about Jesus Christ and about how he deals with us.
The miracle of feeding 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish is a point of doctrine. Jesus used miracles to attest his supernatural status but he always used them to reinforce his doctrine as well.
The 5000 were hungry after having spent the day listening to Jesus in a remote place far from any town. The disciples pointed out the people’s need for food and Jesus took the opportunity to teach both us as readers of the event years later, but also the disciples themselves.
His point is that we can participate in his miraculous interventions. But we really have to learn from Jesus, and we really must act in his way and in his time, and according to his purpose – which is primarily for us to live lives obedient to God.
So Jesus provided the people’s physical needs. And he did so because they had sought him and wanted to hear his teaching. As he taught in the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew’s Gospel at chapter 6:
SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU [verse 33]
The purpose of miracles is to lead us to worship the Person of Jesus Christ and to live out the Practice of his teaching.
We see later in chapter 6 of Mark’s Gospel yet another miracle, that of Jesus coming to the disciples, walking on the water, and the stormy weather abating when Jesus joined the disciples in the boat.
As he approached them, Jesus said:
BE OF GOOD CHEER: IT IS I; BE NOT AFRAID
In the midst of terrible conditions and circumstances around us, Jesus remains positive and optimistic, telling us to be positive and optimistic.
How come ?
Because we see only the physical circumstances which press in and preoccupy our physical senses. But Jesus sees the superior spiritual domain, and in that domain he is Master and Director. Witness the calming of the storm.
Jesus sees this ultimate and ulterior reality and reminds us that he is Lord of that superior domain and that therefore we can trust in him. That his presence and his words to us are the ulterior reality which we need to grasp and live. The spiritual rules the physical and Jesus Christ would have us both know and live that.
That he is not only our Provider but also our Protector.