I was taking my normal walk through the neighborhood down to Lake Pelham one morning, when I felt this urge to pray a very bold prayer. I stopped at the lake and looked at the water (which gives such peace to my soul) and I asked the Lord,
“Jesus, I want more of you! I want to experience more than the daily presence that assures me of Your presence. I want to experience the signs, wonders and miracles that Your first church experienced. I don’t want to be wowed by You; I just want to be immersed in You! I want to be taken captive by Your Spirit. I ask this in Your name, Jesus, because I know that anything I ask in Your name, Our Father answers.”
I kept walking believing that God will answer this prayer one day. Then the thought occurred to me:
“Why did you pray this?”
“Why are you asking for this kind of experience?”
My immediate answer was “I want more faith.”
I have come to believe that one of the ways God increases our faith is through miracles in our lives. We often dismiss this in our cultural and safe religious biases; especially if one was brought up in a more conservative faith in Christ, which would describe my upbringing. But the more I saturate myself in the life of Jesus and the life of His disciples, the more I see that miracles are simply tools that God uses to increase our faith.
I grew up seeing John 4:48 as a derogatory statement made by Jesus until today. Now I see something quite different. We read John 4:46-53…
“…Jesus visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
Jesus told him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
“Sir,” the official said to him, “come down before my boy dies!”
“Go,” Jesus told him, “your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
The part of this passage that typically is taught as a derogatory statement made by Jesus is, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” I have grown up hearing this statement as a condemnation toward the official and anyone who needed to see miracles before they could have greater faith. But could it be that this statement made by Jesus was not derogatory at all, but instead a proclamation of truth concerning our faith process? For example, could it be that Jesus was really saying, “Belief comes by seeing signs and wonders.” I think so. And it’s proven by the rest of this story…
“While the official was still going down, his slaves met him saying that his boy was alive. He asked them at what time he got better.”
“Yesterday at seven in the morning the fever left him,” they answered.
The father realized this was the very hour at which Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” Then he himself believed, along with his whole household.
God has used signs, wonders and miracles for many different reasons. He has hardened hearts of the enemy such as Pharaoh, He proved He was God above all gods, and in today’s post he used and uses them to move faith from small to greater. In all reasons we see a common thread –
Belief it the issue.
What I have learned over the years of being a Christ follower is faith can come by two ways – the first happens before the other can be realized.
1.) Facing the Impossible. The royal official faced the impossible – his son was dying. He had nowhere to go but to Jesus. In such a dire situation, his human resources were very limited. Limited resources and solutions to our problems is exactly what constitutes the impossible. These times are needed in order to go to the next step of experiencing what’s possible only by God.
2.) Experiencing the Impossible. The royal official had a minimal faith. At first the official believed in what Jesus said. He trusted Jesus’ word that his son would live. As he arrived he found that Jesus’ words were true. In his small faith, it grew by leaps when what little he believed actually became his reality. His faith moved from believing Jesus’ word to having a saving faith in Christ. Not only did his faith move to a new level, new found faith was found by his whole household.
Faith is like that. It’s contagious! It moves us, and it moves others.
The word “believe” in this passage is the same word but has various meanings.
It’s confident – believing the act is possible.
It’s intellectual – believing the words are true.
It’s saving – believing in the One who saves souls.
I see all three coming to pass in this man’s life.
- The official came to Jesus because he believed He could heal his son.
- The official believed Jesus’ words as he departed for home.
- Then the official with his family believed in the One who saved their souls.
Faith progresses. And Jesus used the impossible to experience the impossible. This encounter took the official’s faith to new places.
Jesus’s mission is for each of us to believe. To believe that He is the Son of God, Savior of the world, and also that He is the one with all power who can heal us from sickness, who can free us from sin, who can give us new life, and who can make us righteous before God our Father. In all this, He chooses to increase our faith from a baby faith to a mature one. In that process, He often uses miracles, signs and wonders. These equip us for more of Him while also equipping us to be used by Him to help others on their faith journey.
I’m convinced miracles are a necessary tool I need to an increased faith. Not because I don’t believe, but instead because I do