(Image courtesy of http://phys.org.)

I've been thinking lately about the miracles done in Bible times and why we struggle to see those things happen today, even after Jesus says that we (Christians) will be able to do even more spectacular things than Him (John 14:12).

As I was reading and studying the Bible last week, I came across the story of
Jesus healing a demon-possessed boy in Mark chapter 9.  This happens right after Jesus, Peter, John, and James come back down the mountain after the Transfiguration.  The miracle that Jesus performs in the boy's life is something we have come to expect when reading the Bible, but why should it simply stop on the page?  If Jesus always told the truth (and we know He did, since He was without sin as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21), and He said that we would do greater things than these in His name, then it just doesn't make sense why miracles would cease to happen just because Jesus is no longer walking on the earth.

What is a miracle?
First, a miracle is something that goes against physical properties.  There is no scientific explanation to why Jesus, for instance, was able to turn water into wine.  (See "Alcohol in the Bible" by Konnor Kessler for more on this specific miracle.)  A miracle is the spiritual world answer brought into the physical world's problem.  The spiritual world is unbound, infinite, and holy.  The physical world is bound by laws and is finite.  Therefore, there is no physical explanation to the miracles Jesus performed because they were both figuratively and literally, "out of this world."

Second, since miracles are not of this world, a "higher power" from the spiritual world is needed to perform such miracles.  Jesus was fully man: He walked on the same roads, talked in the same language, ate the same food, and breathed the same air as other humans of that time - but He was also directly tapped into the Spirit of God, which gave Him access to unlimited power and divine interventions.  Even the devil - the prince of the earth - who is of the spiritual world, has some power.  It is essential to note, however, that the devil is eternally defeated because of God's holiness and Jesus' victory over death on the cross, and therefore can not place his rule over Him or anyone found in Him (I John 4:4, Ephesians 6:12, Revelation 12:11).  This fact is important in light of what happens in Mark 9.

Jesus heals a demon-possessed boy
In Mark 9, a man runs up to Jesus saying (in verse 17), "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground.  He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid.  I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."

At a glance, it is interesting that Jesus' disciples, the ones the Church holds in such high regards as nearly perfect, could not drive out the evil spirit.  They were, in fact, men (albeit, abandoned men who gave up everything to follow Jesus) just like us.  (I'll talk more about this later.)

Jesus responds vaguely to the man by saying, "O unbelieving generation... how long shall I stay with you?  How long shall I put up with you?  Bring the boy to me."

I can just imagine Jesus looking up to the sky as He said this.  "Really, Father?  Why can't these people just believe in You as I do?"

In verse 22 it really gets interesting.  Actually, it gets awesome.

The man said to Jesus, "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.  But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

After the man said this, I can see Jesus, whose eyes were on the convulsing boy, looking up slowly, matching the helpless gaze of the boy's father with a look of His own - hurt mixed with pity.

'"'If you can'?" said Jesus."'  Oh boy!  Here we go!  Jesus, the ultimate tapper into the spiritual world, just met the unbelief of this father with the power and might of Heaven itself!

Jesus continues: "Everything is possible for him who believes."

"Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'"

Undoubtedly, Jesus felt compassion for this boy's father.  Of course, I do also think Jesus was practicing "being slow to anger" at the same time.  He must have been wondering why the people didn't believe in Him or God's power yet.  And I love the man's response: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"  I can picture him saying these words with tears forming in his eyes, begging, searching for any sort of help from the Savior.  That sort of desperation for more of Jesus is the beginning to living life in the Spirit.

You may have thought I was a little harsh toward the boy's father up to this point.  On the contrary, he sums up everything I myself long for - help in my own unbelief.

The boy is healed!
Finally, in verse 25, Jesus, seeing a crowd beginning to gather, rebukes the evil spirit and commands it to never enter the boy again.  Of course, everything happens just as the Master of the Universe said it should, and the boy is healed and is never bothered by evil spirits again.

Jesus performed this miracle, along with many, many others.  Why then, do we not see more miracles today that glorify the Father, even after Jesus said we could do more than Him?

The conclusion
I wonder if we struggle with our perception.  How big is our God really?  Is my view of God that He just helps me get through the troubles of today?  Or is my view of God a strong belief that He will reign victorious both today and for eternity in every situation, no matter what may come?

Am I really expecting God to do great things, things that He is more than capable of?  Jesus - without a doubt! - expected just that!  And His disciples replicated that confidence, though not always.

My question, then, is this: How do we gain that confidence in God, learning to expect boundless miracles from an infinite, all-powerful God?  This, I believe, is the answer: We spend insane amounts of time with Him reading His word, praying before His throne, and being obedient to Him when He asks us to do something.

What will I give up - what am I willing to give up - to be joined with Jesus in this way?

All in all, performing miracles isn't the issue here.  The issue is living life with Jesus in such a way that the spiritual world is the only world we seek after, the only world we see, the only world we live for, and the only world that matters.

May God bless you with wisdom and selflessness as you pursue Him!

"May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven" (Jesus).