We talk a lot about miracles in
the church today. Some are of the opinion that the age of miracles has ended; that these
demonstrations of God's power aren't for today's church, while others strongly disagree.
Well, there's no sense in getting into a discussion about the possibility or credibility
of miracles until we've agreed upon what we mean by the word "miracle." How it's
A miracle is, in essence, a special manifestation of
God's super-natural power; a work done for a divine purpose and accomplished by means
which are totally incomprehensible to the common man. Something wondrous in scope -
something extremely unusual. As the kids would say, something awesome.
Many times we use the word "miracle" to describe the
ordinary course of an event. For example, when someone escapes a really bad car accident,
we might say, "It was a miracle that no one was killed." Or if we've taken a
really difficult exam that we're not that well prepared for, and we pass the exam, we'd
probably say, It was a miracle that I passed." What we do is, we credit the natural
course of things as a miracle, when, in fact, it's nothing of the kind.
Augustus said, "The daily miracle of God has grown cheap
In other words, we use the word "miracle" so totally
out of context, so frequently in our daily conversation, that the rightful meaning of the
word gets lost. A true miracle, a true manifestation of God's power, has some fundamental
characteristics that just don't show up in the everyday common use of the word.
Webster defines the word "miracle" as, "An
event or effect in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or
transcending our knowledge of these laws; an extra-ordinary, anomalous or abnormal event
brought about by super-human agency." That's a mouthful isn't it?
Anomalous means strange or unusual. I had to look that one up
myself. That's ironic, isn't it? The definition of a word you look up in the dictionary
has words in it that you have to look up in the dictionary. I think that was done
intentionally as some sort of marketing trick.
Now, what does that mean to us, from a Christian perspective?
Well, if we were to examine the miracles of the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments,
we'd discover that they are all extraordinary events which accompany a divine
manifestation at a crucial moment in time; usually in a time of great adversity.
Biblical miracles are generally a complete reversal of the
natural course of things. They totally deviate from the laws of nature. They turn the laws
of nature upside down. God, the Father; the creator of all things; the creator of these
laws of nature; has the power to change them; to alter their effect as he sees fit for His
divine purpose, which is always for the good.
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things
work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His
purpose." Even when we don't see it, God's purpose is always good;
God has the sovereign power to control and redirect the laws
of nature to accomplish His divine will. David Hume, a Scottish philosopher really nailed
it when he said, "A miracle is not a violation of the laws of nature but the
introduction of a new effect."
So Biblical miracles are not a violation of the original laws.
They're simply the intervention of a supernatural power outside of nature creating a new
effect. In other words, a miracle is just God saying, "It's my creation; If I want to
change it; redesign it to come up with a new end result; I can. I have that right. It's my
product; I've got the patent on it."
Please understand this. If we deny God's ability to intervene
in a situation; His ability to create a new effect from a law which He, himself,
conceived; then we're denying that He's God, aren't we?
Let me use this example to clarify my point; this right of God
to intercede in a situation. I've written a book. So, I'm the author; the creator of that
book, right? If I wanted to, would it be okay for me to go back and make changes in that
book; to rewrite some of the chapters in that book; to give the story a little different
twist; a different feel; to create a new effect? Would that be okay? Sure it would. As a
matter of fact, I did that. It's a natural part of the writing process.
Well, that's no different than what we're talking about here
in the spiritual realm. God is the author, the creator of the laws of nature, right? So,
as the author, He has the right; the authority (you see the word author is the root word
for authority) so the author has the authority to do something, see? So God, the author of
everything, has the authority to go back and rewrite His book just as I had the authority
as the author, to rewrite my book. Got it? The difference is; I asked God for direction in
writing my book. He never asked me for help with His. Lucky thing, huh?
Did you know that Jesus spent thirty years on earth before He
finally performed His first miracle? He and the disciples had been invited to a wedding at
Cana. The bride and groom came from fairly poor families and apparently a large number of
guests showed up for the wedding feast, causing a shortage of wine, which in those days
was a great embarrassment. It would be kind of like going to a wedding today and they
forgot to bring the cake. The family would probably feel a little embarrassed.
So Mary, Jesus' mother, was the first one to notice that the
wine was gone. So what did Mary do? How did she react to this awkward situation? Did she
panic? Did she start moaning and groaning and complaining? Did she rant and rave about all
the work that she had done and how the wedding was ruined? No, she didn't do any of those
things. Mary knew what to do with her problem. She simply turned to Jesus and said,
"...They have no wine." In the middle of a touchy situation, she simply
gave the problem to Jesus.
Okay, let's take a closer look at this. Now why would Mary
tell Jesus that there was no wine? He wasn't the host of the party. He was a guest. Why
would she bother Him with something like this? And what did she expect Him to do? After
all, remember, He had never performed a miracle up to this point? What gave her the idea
that He could solve the problem?
You know, even though Mary had never seen Jesus perform a
miracle, the knowledge of His divine mission had to have been locked in her heart; don't
you think? She had to have been thinking about all these things all along. She had to be
wondering when her Son, born of the Holy Spirit, would finally demonstrate His divine
power. I mean she knew all along that He was a really special kid, but after all, He was
thirty years old and she had to be wondering what He was planning to do with His life, ya
know. She was His mother. You know how mothers are.
I can hear Mary now, "Son, you had a good job as a
carpenter; a good job; and now look at what you're doing with your life. I don't know what
I've done do deserve this. All you want to do is hang out with that bunch of hooligans
that follow you around everywhere. And you're always in trouble; the authorities are
always looking for you. What am I going to do with you? And put that staff down before you
put someone's eye out."
She might have said that, ya know? You know how mothers are.
I think Mary had to have known in her heart that there was
something more out there for her son. Something special. God had to have put that in her
heart from the very beginning. She must have been waiting for this day for a long time.
She had to have been anticipating this day when her son, the Son of the living God, would
establish His divine authority on earth. Maybe God, in His infinite wisdom, gave Mary a
vision of this day, this day at the wedding at Cana. Maybe she knew by some form of divine
intervention that this was the day.
Whatever she was thinking, I can tell you one thing for sure
about Mary. She didn't react like you would expect the average woman to react in this
instance. No offense to you ladies, but have you ever been to a wedding when something
happens that wasn't part of the plan. Some sort of minor catastrophe. You'd think the
world was coming to an end. Everyone's running around hysterically, "Oh, all our
planning, all those months of work, all that money...and look what's happened! What are we
going to do now! What will our friends think?" It's not a pretty sight.
Now here's Mary, in the middle of this huge wedding, and the
wine runs out. I mean this was serious stuff. In those days, if you didn't provide wine
for your wedding guests, it was a tremendous insult to them. It's just one of the
idiosyncrasies of the middle eastern culture, they'd really be offended if you didn't
offer them some wine. This was no minor inconvenience. This was a really embarrassing
situation. It was a potentially catastrophic social blunder.
The Bible isn't specific about this, but the people throwing
the wedding were probably relatives of Marys. She'd probably helped out with the
planning and the preparations. She may have even been the one that was in charge of the
refreshments. Maybe that's why she noticed that the wine had run out. Maybe that was her
So, Mary, evidently anticipating some sort of action on Jesus
part simply said those four words, "They have no wine," and Jesus took it from
Now remember, Jesus had just returned from forty days alone in
the wilderness where he had been tested by Satan. He had fasted for forty days. He had to
have been starving by now and he was very weak. In fact, the Bible says that He was so
weak that He had to be ministered to by an Angel; ministered to for His physical needs.
Yet, even though He had refused to work a miracle in the
wilderness to meet His own needs; Remember? He had refused to turn the stone into bread,
and you know that after forty days of fasting that bread would have looked really good.
But even though He wouldn't perform a miracle for His own benefit, He performed this first
miracle in order to meet the needs of others; to meet the needs of those wedding guests.
I'm sure most of you know the story. Jesus commanded the
servants to fill the clay pots with water. So the pots were filled and instantaneously the
water was turned into wine. Just like that. And this wasn't just any ordinary wine. I
mean, Ernest & Julio Gallo didn't make this wine. It was made by the Master. The
master of the feast called it "the best wine." You know, most people would have
served the best wine first and then brought out the cheap wine when everyone was too drunk
to know the difference. But in this case, Jesus saved the best wine for last. You see
Jesus always gives His best last. Always.
Now I know there are some of you scoffers who think this is
just some cute story that got put into the Bible to fill up space because the publisher
needed some more pages or something. Well, for all of you scoffers, and I know you're out
there, do you remember the story of Jairus?
Jairus had gone to Jesus and told Him, "My little
daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and
live." The Bible says that Jesus went with him and on the way to Jairus' house some
men came running over to Jairus and said, "Your daughter is dead, Why bother the
I'm going to get off on a tangent here, I can tell, but I feel
lead to share this with you. Let's go back to the beginning here. Mark 5:35 says, "While
Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler."
You see, Jairus was a very powerful man. He was a synagogue
ruler. He was risking his whole career - his whole life - by coming to Jesus. Some of you
have done that, haven't you? Put your careers on the line because of your beliefs. Jairus
knew very well that if he was caught asking Jesus for help, he'd be thrown out of the
synagogue. But Jairus understood who Jesus was. He understood Jesus authority; and his
daughter was dying. Okay, lets get back to the text; Mark 5:35 ; "Your
daughter is dead," they said, "Why bother the teacher anymore?"
Verse 36 says, "Ignoring what they
See? What did Jesus do here when these men showed up, these
non-believers? He ignored them. And I'll tell you something. There are people out there,
actually there are people right there in your church; they may be sitting next to you next
Sunday; people who are a threat to your faith. Do you know that? That's right. You heard
it right. People who will tell you all kinds of nonsense; all kinds of negative junk; people
who will tell you that the Bible doesn't really mean what it says.
Well, what did Jesus do when these nay-sayers showed up?
Continuing in verse 36, Jesus told Jairus, 'Don't be afraid; just believe."
Just believe! The King James says, "only believe." Let's take a closer look at
this, because this is really crucial. Let's break down what Jesus really said here.
Too many times we read scripture and we just breeze by it
without taking the time to absorb the full meaning. You have to drink it in. God's word
has to become a part of your being so that you know that you know that you know. So that
when you need to call on it, it's there, inside of you; in your spirit.
Everything that's in the Bible is important. In the newspaper
business when we need to plug up a hole, a blank space at the end of an article; we use
something called "filler." It might be a quote from some famous person or an
anecdote or whatever. It's just used to take up space. Well, God didn't use any filler in
the Bible. Everything in there is important.
"Don't be afraid, only believe." This is a direct
command from the Lord here, isn't it. This is authoritative. He didn't say, Try not to be
scared. Please give me a chance to prove myself." This is a direct order; a mandate.
"Only believe." What does that really mean. It's
helpful, sometimes, to take a closer look at words. To tear them apart. To get to the core
of their meaning. Let's take a look at the word "only." What does
Well, there are several other words that we can use to more
fully clarify or define the word, "only." Let's look at a few of them. First
word; wholly. Wholly believe. Next word; entirely. Entirely believe. Next word; solely.
Solely believe. Next word; exclusively, exclusively believe. Exclusive of everything else
you do in your life, believe. Are you getting this? Okay, last one, and this is the one
that I think really clarifies what "only" really means in the sense the Lord is
using it here when He says, "Only believe."
Excepting all else. Omitting all else. Barring all else.
Rejecting all else. Forgetting all else, BELIEVE! Unconditionally! Don't listen to the
negative people. Don't listen to the negative philosophies. Don't listen to the people at
work who laugh at you behind your back, who mock you because of your faith. Don't listen
to them. You can't afford it! ONLY BELIEVE!
Excepting all else. Disregarding all else. Excluding all else.
No matter what your friends say. No matter what your brother says. No matter what your
sister says. No matter what your mother says. No matter what your father says. No matter
what your boss says. No matter what the doctor says. No matter what your checkbook says.
No matter what the circumstances say. ONLY BELIEVE!
Okay, continuing now in verse 37. "He
did not let anyone follow Him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James."
Do you see what Jesus was doing here? He surrounded himself with men who believed in Him.
Men who were positive and supportive. Men who understood who He was and His authority.
Now to verse 38. "When they came to the home
of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He
went in and said to them, 'Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead, but
Now look at this. Verse 40 says, "But they
laughed at him." They laughed at him! They laughed at Jesus. How
many of you know it's not a real good idea to laugh at the Son of God? These people were
obviously not too bright. But these people are still around today aren't they? People who
laugh when you try to tell them about Jesus. They must be descendants of these dolts. But,
we'll keep praying for them anyway.
And do you know what? When these people; these people who give
you a hard time because of your faith; when they come up against an impossible situation
that they can't handle; when they're facing some tragedy or some terrible misfortune in
their life; guess what? They're going to want to talk to you. Because in their hearts they
know that you have something that they need. And they'll come to you. They're going to
want what you have.
Now look at this. Look at what Jesus did. What He did when
these scoffers started laughing at Him and making fun of Him. Verse 40 continues, "After
he put them all out..." He put them out! He threw them out of the room.
And in the Hebrew the same word used here for "putting them out," was also used
in John 2:15. This is the same word, in Hebrew, that was used in John 2:15 when Jesus
threw the money changers out of the temple. The same word. He literally threw them out!
Jesus was no wimp?
Well, let's try to get back to where we were before I got off
on this tangent here. You know, the greatest jazz musician in the world is the Holy
Spirit. It's true. I mean He'll take you out on a riff over here, then He'll take you over
there, then over here and He always gets you back to the main melody line. If you like
jazz you know what I'm talking about.
Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, Cana. At the wedding. Jesus had
just turned the water into wine. So anyway, I know some of you are thinking, "That's
a nice story, but, come on now, nobody can turn water into wine." Well, we shouldn't
have to prove anything to you here, after all this is God we're talking about. But, for
those of you who are still living by sight, who still need to base your belief on some
sort of logic, I'll indulge you for just a minute. I really shouldn't. Jesus probably
would have thrown you out, but I'll indulge you.
First, we need to agree that God is God. That's pretty simple,
right? God is the creator of all things. The Bible tells us that all things were created
by God and for God's purpose. Everything you see as you look around you was conceived in
the heavenlies, in the Spirit realm, before it could become a reality here on earth, in
the physical realm.
Are you with me so far? Okay, now let's go back to our
Scottish friend David Hume. What did he say?, "A miracle is not a violation of the
laws of nature but the introduction of a new effect." That's important now, so stick
with me here.
Now, Webster's definition of a miracle was what? "An
event or effect in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or
transcending our knowledge of these laws; an extra-ordinary, anomalous or abnormal event
brought about by super-human agency."
Does turning plain water into wine qualify as a miracle by definition? Sure it does. It
deviates from the known laws of nature, right? Does it transcend our knowledge of the laws
of nature? Yup. Is it an extra-ordinary, abnormal event? Sure is. Was it brought about by
super-human agency? Got that one covered too. There's no one more super human than Jesus.
Looks like we've got a miracle on our hands, doesn't it?
Stay with me for one more minute on this, okay? Let's take a closer look at what
happened. We've already established that God is the creator. He created everything. He
created the laws of nature as we understand them. If God created the laws of nature, if He
set them up a certain way to produce a certain effect, then He has the ability and more
importantly the authority, as the originator, the Creator of those laws, to bring a new
effect into being, without being in violation of the original laws. Remember what we said,
"A miracle is not a violation of the laws of nature but the introduction of a new
In the case of the miracle at Cana, the miracle of turning
water into wine, Jesus created a new effect. He created a new effect out of the natural
laws that were already in operation. He wasn't in violation of the laws of nature, He just
made some changes in them to create the effect that He wanted. Just like our law-makers
today in this country sometimes make changes in the laws that govern our society in the
physical realm, laws which they originally created; just as they have the authority to do
that, God has the authority to make changes in the natural laws that He originally created
in the spiritual realm. Do you see that?
Okay, let's take this one more step. We're almost there.
Here's why turning water into wine is not a violation of the laws of nature. Does wine
initially start out as water? Sure it does. God created the vine to be fruitful; to
produce grapes. He gave it the ability to take in the rain and assimilate that rain to
form the juice of the grape. Isn't that true? Grape vines take in rainwater and produce
grapes which in turn produce grape juice. Nothing unusual about that, Right?
So actually, the miracle at Cana was nothing more than a
speeding up process involving the creative power of God. He willed these chemical changes,
which would normally take years to occur, He willed them to instantly transform the water
into wine. God has altered the laws of nature, in this case by speeding them up, without
violating the original law; to create a new effect, a new outcome; and voila! We have a
Now, aside from the obvious result of getting the bride and
groom's parents off the hook and making the wedding guests happy, what did this miracle
accomplish in the spiritual sense? First, it demonstrated that creative power essentially
belongs to deity. Jesus was the only one who could have pulled this off.
Also, it caused Jesus' disciples to believe in Him. Sure, they
were already believers, but this demonstration of the Lord's power and authority over the
fruits of the earth served as the first opportunity, in the midst of adversity, for God to
establish the divinity of Jesus' mission on earth; His mission among men.
As believers, our mission is to go through life turning water
into wine. Turning problems into opportunities. You know, like those water pots at Cana,
we too are but poor earthen vessels, yet God can use even the weakest of us for His divine
In closing, I'd like you to reflect on the words of Jesus as
Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, faced the worst moment of his life; the worst news any
parent could ever imagine; "Your daughter is dead,"
If you can truly understand these words; if you can live your
life according to these words; in my opinion you'll have the key to living a victorious
Christian life; Jesus said these simple, yet powerful words, and these are the words I'd
like to leave you with.