Have you ever found yourself wondering… where did all that power go? The power to heal, physically and emotionally. The power to have the right words to say at the right time. The power to see people who are open and hungry—just like Jesus did—and lead them to the Source of Life. Is it possible for normal people to live that way too? Or was it just Jesus who got to do that stuff? Your answer to that question changes everything! There is no reason to drift through your world powerless when Jesus’ last words on earth were, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). It’s time to power up!
I was standing in front of about fifteen college students, circled tightly on random couches and chairs in the small dormitory living room. “When Jesus did His miracles on earth, was He operating as God or operating as man?” As my question hung in the air, a sense of electric possibility rose. A thoughtful silence lingered as people’s faces registered concentration.
“I think His miracles were more of a God-thing,” one young lady volunteered. “A sign that the kingdom of God was drawing near in a brand new way.” Several heads nodded.
“I don’t know,” spoke up another. “We know that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human, so why wouldn’t His miracles be a demonstration of what God can do through a totally-yielded human?”
“I like the idea of that,” said the first one, “but I haven’t raised anyone from the dead lately.” A chuckle rolled across the room accompanied by wistful smiles.
“That said,” she continued, “I did have the coolest experience yesterday! I was standing in line at the grocery store behind a young mother with two kids on a sugar high. One was grabbing magazines off the rack while the other was groaning and complaining about his tummy hurting. I felt an intense compassion for all of them, especially the boy holding his stomach, and I impulsively leaned over and asked the mom if I could pray for her son. She was glazed over but said yes.
“As I took the little boy’s hands and asked Jesus to heal him, both of the children quieted down remarkably. I guess they were surprised that a stranger was talking to God about them! But as the little boy relaxed, his mom teared up and thanked me kindly. She even went on to talk about what a tough day they’d had and how she’d lost her babysitter last minute. I told her I could probably do some babysitting on the weekends if she still needed help.
“The whole encounter was over in about a minute, but the presence of God felt really strong to me. I don’t know if you’d call that a miracle, but I did feel the Holy Spirit in an unusual way. It felt really good.”
“Jenna,” I said, “You’ve just preached my message for me! And I’ll have to go with answer B: that Jesus lived and ministered in the supernatural out of His humanity, not His divinity…and I’ll tell more about why that is in a few minutes. But let’s look at the fork in the road prompted by this question; the answer we give here will take us in very different directions.”
And so it did! As we explored this powerful idea together as a group, the two paths took on a striking clarity. To the extent that Christians see miracles as something that God does through a unique, once-in-the-history-of-the-world Savior, to that extent the supernatural is the domain of the Other. It’s the God-realm, far removed from our role as mere mortals in the service of God. We read the stories of Jesus and are led to adoration and worship. Which is good, of course, but it’s not the whole story.
To the extent that we see Jesus’ miracles as something that God does through surrendered, anointed humans, whoa… That takes us somewhere radically different! That makes Jesus the first Christian, the example and model of what our lives can look like. What our lives must look like in order for the kingdom of God to continue to advance today. This is the source of our power as followers and ambassadors of Christ, and power is what we need to live out our calling in this world.
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