Incentives To Faith
Generous Father, I praise You for the goodness You show me day by day. Your mercies never come to an end.
Read MARK 8:14-21
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The miracles of Jesus were the ordinary works of his Father, wrought small and swift that we might take them in” (George MacDonald, 1824-1905, Scottish novelist and poet).
What do the Pharisees of the Gospels and the new atheists of today have in common? A great deal! Both insist that religious claims are invalid unless verified by sense perception. Atheists reject belief in God because his existence cannot be confirmed scientifically. The Pharisees–and Herod (Luke 23:8)–refused to believe in Jesus because he declined to provide proof.
Jesus was frustrated with his disciples’ apparent lack of understanding of the feeding miracles and their failure to read the message these miracles communicated. Yet he says “No way!” to the Pharisees’ request for a miracle on demand. Why? Because Jesus’ miracles were “signs” of a different type (c.f. John 2:11). They provide clues rather than proof. Jesus’ miracles did not have an independent existence. They were manifestations of God’s love for people and, also, teaching models of his mission to the world (19,20). As the number 12 symbolized Israel, so 7 (and 70) were, in Jewish thinking, associated with the Gentiles. However much Jesus might remonstrate with the disciples for their dullness, he does not spoon-feed them. Rather, he leaves space for them to discover for themselves the message communicated in the miracles and, in the process, to be drawn to trust him more. Miracles, as the Pharisees and Herod understood them, were ends in themselves. They produced wonder, not faith. Demanding proof, says Jesus, doesn’t nurture faith. It negates it!
Today, perhaps, we need to watch out for the yeast of the new atheists! In effect, they demand the kind of sign that Jesus says is simply not offered. His miracles are more than manifestations of the paranormal. By themselves they do not produce faith. Rather, they are incentives to faith, designed to draw us into a personal, lifelong and transforming commitment to him as the Savior of the world.
What would draw you closer to Jesus? Ask the Holy Spirit to draw you into a deeper trust in Jesus and love for him.
Lord, You show me miracles of Your love and provision every day. May they be an incentive to my faith.
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