Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jesus' True Identity is Greater than a Mere Miracle Worker

People came to Jesus for healing
That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. The whole town gathered at the door to watch. So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak” (Mark 1:32-34, NLT).

People were descended on Capernaum, hoping for help from Jesus. That single phrase, “The whole town gathered at the door to watch,” captures the intense interest that drew people to Jesus. In the glare of the evening fires, the joyful faces of people freed from captivity to sickness and to demonic influence glowed even brighter. The evening echoed both with the cries of demons and with shouts of praise to God. Those who came or were brought to Jesus were healed. He did not let the demons identify him because he was not ready to reveal his true identity as the Son of God. And so Jesus with authority “did not allow them to speak.”

If we assume that Jesus performed miracles in order to prove who he was, we will be somewhat confused when we read that he refused to do a miracle on command (Matthew 16:1-4), that he forbade demons from speaking (Mark 1:34), and that he asked those he had healed not to tell anyone (Mark 1:44). Why would he not take advantage of every marketing opportunity? (Brian Tracy must be disappointed when he read this). Because his identity didn’t depend on people believing he could do miracles! Jesus didn’t work miracle to prove he was the Son of God; he did miracles because he was the Son of God. He didn’t go around “flashing credentials”; he responded to genuine needs and didn’t exploit those he was helping. He wouldn’t be pressured or bullied into performing miracles. He didn’t heal everyone (Remember, Jesus’ mission was first and foremost the healing of people’s souls).

Jesus made it very clear that he could perceive a person’s real need, even when that person asked only for physical healing. So he greeted the man lowered through the roof on a stretcher with a word of forgiveness. He knew the man needed forgiveness even more than he needed to be able to walk (see Mark 2:3-5). There was a specific purpose behind every miracle Jesus performed, but it was never simply to prove who he was. Think about this: Earlier that day in Capernaum synagogue, Jesus was teaching and those who listened were amazed at the authority of his words. Not long after this, when it became clear that Jesus wouldn’t settle for being a miracle worker, Simon Peter described why real disciples follow Jesus (not because of his miracles). Peter said, “Lord, to whom [else] would we go? You have the words that give eternal life” (John 6:68). Peter gets it! In the end, it wasn’t about the miracles that he had performed but who Jesus was and is now to you.

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