In the early days of his public ministry Jesus and his mother Mary were invited to a wedding in the Galilean town of Cana. Such weddings often lasted a full week, so at one point Mary came to her son with the news that they had run out of wine. Jesus told his mother that he didn’t share her concern because his time (apparently his time to reveal that he was the Messiah) had not yet come. However, Jesus told the servants to fill some stone water jars and when they dipped some out it had turned to wine, in fact a wine that was superior to what they had been drinking. The gospel of John points out that this was the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs (2:1-11).
The question I want to ask is in what way can we be like Jesus when it comes to his miracles? Is it in our power to perform miracles? Granted, the early church was able to perform acts of healing but for the most part that gift is not frequently exercised in the contemporary church. Should it be is the question?
It will be well at this point to define miracle. The British Dictionary says a miracle an “an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause.” Other dictionaries say roughly the same in more erudite language. The one thing that is clear is that miracles call for a force outside the human realm and that implies that they are not something we do on our own power. They are acts of God. So when the early church was “filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles” (Acts 2:43) it was actually God at work through them. When we say that an apostle performed a miracle what we mean is that God used the apostle as the agent through whom he carried out his supernatural act. All the miracles performed by members of the primitive church were divine acts wrought through humans. They healed the sick and drove out demons, which not only served the physical needs of the afflicted but helped authenticate the message they delivered (Acts 8:6 reports that the people paid attention to Philip’s message “when they heard and saw the signs which he did.”).
Against this background I would suggest that miracles are happening all the time in the contemporary church. Perhaps not the more typical miracles of New Testament days such as healing the sick but if a miracle is an act of God performed through one of his own then every answered prayer is a miracle, every intervention of God into the human sphere at our request. Recently a friend involved in campus ministry told me of a number of freshmen who opened their hearts to Christ and were granted forgiveness and eternal life. Was that not a miracle? It was beyond human competence and required the supernatural. Wherever God is at work in this world miracles are happening on a continuing basis. And we can be part of that