Anyone who has even partially heard of the life of Jesus can’t deny how incredible were his works and teaching. In fact, many who don’t recognize him as deity still see him as a great teacher and miracle worker. For those who believe in him as part of the Trinity, therefore being God himself, his life and actions are even more powerful.
But why did it have to stop there? Why can’t we see miracles being performed today? With all the brokenness in the world today, we could use some help down here. Yet, we don’t currently see the blind being healed. I’ve never witnessed a lame person suddenly stand up and walk without a limp nor a demon cast out.
Yet, Jesus himself said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12) How is this true? How can we do works greater than Jesus who is God? When we see less miracles than recorded during the life of Jesus, what can he mean by us doing greater than he?
While I won’t be able to even fully scratch the surface in one blogpost, these questions are what I hope to address in this week’s writing.
Greater than Jesus?
It seems ridiculous to think that followers of the Way could do the same works as Jesus. To think we could do greater seems preposterous. And, frankly, it is.
I’m not calling Jesus a liar by any means. He is God and he is Truth (John 14:6). Rather, I am saying that it is impossible for us to do works that even come close to those that Jesus did as recorded in the gospels when we are doing them in and of ourselves. When we attempt a healing or teaching or simple act of unconditional love in our own strength and of our own spirit, we will never come close to the power and magnitude of Jesus Christ.
It is only by the Holy Spirit within us that we can do deeds on par with Jesus himself. Jesus encouraged and emboldened the apostles by saying in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In Acts 2, Luke describes the coming of the Holy Spirit which leads to great teaching and miraculous signs and wonders. It was through the Spirit of God that the apostles were able to do works like Jesus. In the days and space between the ascension of Jesus to the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were inactive. Or at least there was no recording or them doing anything significant likely because they didn’t do anything noteworthy, nonetheless christlike.
I witness miracles daily. They’re not the sight of a blind man being returned nor the lame suddenly jumping up and walking as we see in Jesus and the apostles day. Not to say God can’t still do that. To be clear, God can do whatever he wants, and one of the gifts of the Spirit is healing (1 Corinthians 12:9) which I believe does include physical healing. As I said, God can do whatever he wants in and through those who are filled with his Spirit. Yet, I think God tends to work differently in a more widespread way today.
In listening to a biography on the apostle Paul by N. T. Wright, he stated that the Jewish people saw miracles as less of a abnormal action and more of a sign of new life. In that sense, I believe that we see a greater quantity of miracles today than those of Jesus’ day. We see God breaking the bonds of slavery to sin. We see healing from pride and destruction. We see insight into areas in which we were once blind. We see new life in Christ being brought about by the Holy Spirit all around us.
We see miracles daily. It is in a woman forgiving when she would normally have held a grudge. It is in a man finally breaking free from an addiction to porn. It is in people giving God glory instead of taking it for themselves. It is in the salvation of new believers. While Jesus was God in one man who did great and mighty things, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God working in and through all Christians to once again do great and mighty works on a widespread, daily basis.
God still brings new life into the world today. He still is working through his people to do the same and even greater works than Jesus did. We have simply become so calloused to the hand of God in everyday life. We rely on ourselves instead of the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things so we stunt our spiritual growth. We expect physical healings so we miss thd greater heart healings around us. We are blind to the workings of God in the minuscule parts of the day. We fail to see he is still doing a great work in and through his people.
No, Jesus did not stop the miracles when he ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit came and has been working ever since. Let us pray that the next miracle he performs might be that our hearts are healed towards him and our eyes are no longer blinded to his hand in our everyday.