Miracles

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The Kingdom of God is about miracles. The One who introduced this Kingdom performed acts that revealed its supernatural character. Like healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, turning water into wine... demonstrations that appeared to challenge the natural order of things. One of His best remembered miracles was the feeding of the 5000. The crowds had streamed in from all over the region to hear Him speak, and doubtless to see Him do some miracles. What He had to say obviously held them spellbound since by mid-afternoon no one was leaving to go buy lunch. His disciples, responsible men that they were, encouraged Him to take a break and send the crowds away so they could get something to eat. When the Teacher suggested instead that the disciples feed them, they were obviously confused. The crowd numbered at least 5000 men, not counting women and children. Even if that quantity of food were available in this rural setting, who had that kind of money? A rather ridiculous request, they concluded.

“I’ll share my lunch.” It was the innocent voice of a small lad who had slipped in close enough to the Teacher to overhear the discussion. “That’s nothing,” the disciples dismissed with scarcely an acknowledgement. But the Teacher saw things differently. “Have the people sit down and spread out their picnic blankets,” He instructed. Then, lifting the little lad in His arms so all could see, He turned His eyes heavenward and thanked God for the three loaves and two small fish offered so generously by this child. A stunned silence fell over the crowd as the power of this blessing penetrated their hearts. Things grew even more intense as the Teacher actually broke the bread and fish and extended it to nearby adults. And then a miracle occurred!

As the Teacher started walking among the seated groups, breaking off pieces of bread and fish from the boy’s lunch, food started multiplying before their eyes. Lunches spontaneously appeared from everywhere, out of knap sacks, from inside robes. Food that only moments before was carefully concealed from others suddenly became the communal feasts of hundreds of little groups clustered all over the hillside. As it turned out, there was an over-abundance of food, far more than this crowd could consume.

Word went out immediately that the Teacher from Galilee had miraculously fed more than ten thousand people. And it was true. Whether by supernaturally multiplying bread and fish or by opening the hearts of self-protective people to share their resources, or both, this was indeed a miracle. And another thing. Anyone who had witnessed that child selflessly giving up his lunch, anyone who had heard that unforgettable blessing the Teacher had offered, anyone who had felt the convicting power of having a piece of the child’s bread extended to him — well, that person’s heart was changed. Irreversibly. Now this was a miracle.

The Kingdom announced long ago by the Teacher from Galilee is still with us. Today. And every once in a while supernatural events occur that remind us of its presence. Someone’s cancer is cured. A driver walks away unscratched from an accident that has obliterated his car. Such things, more than mere coincidences, are beyond human engineering or explanation. They are miracles. But much more frequently, if we have eyes to see, we can decipher less spectacular miracles that are happening around us all the time. Like the $50,000 worth of Christmas toys for needy children stolen by heartless thieves, then replaced three times over by caring donors from all over the city. And little miracles that go unheralded, like the home cooked meal that arrives at the family’s door whose mom is in the hospital. Or the unexpected guest who stops by a lonely senior’s home for an afternoon visit. Or the lady in the grocery check-out line who offers her place to a young mother with two squirming babies. Miracles? Oh, perhaps not in the classical sense. But when busy, over-extended people, who jealously guard their time — people like us — when they listen to their hearts and for a moment relax their self-protective control, something almost magical happens. Smiles appear, countenances brighten, gratitude swells. Is this not evidence that the Kingdom is indeed here?

The Teacher said that those who follow after Him would do greater works than He did. I suppose there is no real way to measure the contagion of goodness that is spread by a simple, selfless act of kindness. A child’s lunch can feed 5000. What miracles will grow from our heart responses?

Warm Christmas wishes,

Bob Lupton

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