Thursday, December 11, 2014

31 Days With the Real Jesus - Day 15 - Miracles Were Performed Through Jesus

Sunset over Lake Michigan

Day 15 - Miracles were Performed Through Jesus

"For general purposes used here, a 'miracle' may be defined as an extraordinary event with an unusual supernatural cause."
- Craig Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts - Vol 1, 110

I have witnessed miracles. Here's one that happened with us at Redeemer, which Craig Keener records in his book Miracles. Craig writes:

"In March 2006, after a spiritual retreat in Branson, Missouri, Carl [Cocherell] was checking the oil in his car when he stepped down and felt a sharp crack. Although he was a Vietnam veteran, he says that he had never felt such pain, and he fainted. X-rays in the emergency room in the Branson hospital revealed such a serious break of the ankle that after setting the break the orthopedist ordered him to stay overnight. During that night, though, Carl recounts that he experienced a voice from the Lord assuring him that his foot was not broken. After putting Carl's foot in a cast and warning that he would need months of therapy, the doctor referred him to his family physician.

Carl's wife drove them back to Michigan, and the next day his family doctor sent him to the hospital for some more X-rays. After receiving the X-rays, his doctor called him into the office and explained that there were no breaks, or even tissue indicating where the break had been. "You never had a broken ankle," the doctor explained. Carl pointed out the X-rays from Missouri. "That is a broken ankle," the doctor admitted. But now there was no sign that he had even had one, so the doctor removed the cast right away. Apart from the ankle being blue for a couple of days, Carl had no problem with it. At church that Sunday, where he used no crutches or other support, he testified how God healed him. Carl provided me with the radiology reports from before and after the healing supporting his claim."
- Keener, Miracles, 440

I'll add that Carl is especially sensitive to his feet since he is a long-distance runner who has run the Boston Marathon. And, I have the radiology reports sitting next to me in my office at home.

Jesus performed miracles. "Scholars often note that miracles characterized Jesus's historical activity no less than his teaching and prophetic activities did. So central are miracle reports to the Gospels that one could remove them only if one regarded the Gospels as preserving barely any genuine information about Jesus. Indeed, it is estimated that more than 31 percent of the verses in Mark's Gospel involve miracles in some way, or some 40 percent of his narrative! Very few critics would deny the presence of any miracles in the earliest material about Jesus." (Ib., 23-24)

Western culture, influenced by David Hume's arguments and the Enlightenment, dismisses the possibility of miracles. Thomas Jefferson, architect of the "American Jesus," insisted that miracles “were an affront to the demands of reason and the laws of nature, and Jesus had performed not a one.” (Stephen Prothero, American Jesus, 23) One of the innumerable strong points of Keener's book is a thorough debunking of Hume's argument against the possibility of miracles, thus clearing the way for their possibility and, in examples such as mine, their actuality.

Miracles were performed through the Real Jesus. They were central, Kingdom-confirming signs and wonders. In my 42+ years as a Jesus-follower I have seen a number of miracles, which I have recorded in my journals, spoken publicly about, and written about.

Today, remember that all things are possible with God, as you connect with Christ.

NOTE: See theistic philosopher J.P. Moreland's recent post, On Craig Keener’s Magisterial “Miracles”. J.P. writes:

"Seldom does a book take one's breath away, but Craig Keener's magisterial Miracles is such a book. It is an extremely sophisticated, completely thorough treatment of its subject matter, and, in my opinion, it is now the best text available on the topic. The uniqueness of Keener's treatment lies in his location of the biblical miracles in the trajectory of ongoing, documented miracles in the name of Jesus and his kingdom throughout church history, up to and including the present. From now on, no one who deals with the credibility of biblical miracles can do so responsibly without interacting with this book."