Mark 10:46-52/ Job 42:1-6/ Psalm 34
Miracles: Manifestation of God’s Power
Today, I have a privilege to start my message with a song by my favorite rock band of all times. The band is Queen, and the song is called Miracle.
These are some of the things that the song lists as a miracle: every drop of rain that falls in Sahara Desert, all God’s creations great and small, the Golden Gate and Taj Mahal, every child on every street having clothes to wear and food to eat, Sunday mornings with a cup of tea, all God’s people being free to live in perfect harmony, and so on. People generally think of miracles as supernatural phenomena, but you may have noticed from this list that they are not necessarily supernatural like the miracle stories in the Bible.
Miracle is the manifestation of God’s power, and God’s power doesn’t often come in a supernatural form like in the Bible. As Queen mentioned in this song, if every child in the world had clothes and food, that would be a miracle. If all God’s people lived in perfect harmony, that would be a miracle. Both of them need great power of God to achieve, but they would not be supernatural phenomena. There are a lot of mundane miracles in our world, if we open the eyes of our hearts to look.
In today’s gospel story, Jesus heals a blind man.
The healing stories in the Gospel of Jesus look like simple stories of miraculous physical healing on the outside, but they are not. In the subversive kingdom of God where God lifts up the marginalized, even medical healing stories are not only about the physical conditions. Unless you come from a rich and powerful family, physical disability surely made you poor and rejected (or neglected). Those with disability lived with a lot of suffering and trauma.
To Jesus, who was preaching God’s reign of love and justice, these acts of healing means proclaiming liberation from the oppressed margin of the society. If we look at the story of healing the blind in John chapter 9 that I shared with you during the story time, we can understand better the ancient Jewish belief on the correlation between sin and physical ailments. In that story, Jesus and his followers meet a blind beggar, and his followers want to know whose sin caused his blindness; was it his sin or his parents’?
This kind of theological debate is useless in the face of a human suffering. It’s like debating God’s will when people are dying and starving on the other side of the world, instead of sending aide to lessen their suffering. Jesus answers that it is neither. Instead of wasting his breath philosophizing, he heals the man. The glory of God is revealed in this act of healing because this wretched man was liberated from his suffering, both physical and spiritual. This is what happens in God’s reign. Liberation from the margin is the true miracle; healing of a physical condition is the bonus. When we combine God’s power and goodness, miracles are good.They do something good.
What we read in the Book of Job is about the great power of God, and today’s Psalm sings of God’s goodness. In case you are not familiar with the Book of Job, here’s the gist of that story;
Job is a wealthy man who reveres God. Satan challenges God by arguing that the only reason Job is faithful to God is because he has been blessed with wealth and prosperity. To defend Job’s character, God allows Satan to strike him with whatever he’s got. First goes Job’s possession including cattle, then his children, then Job is afflicted with physical ailments.
First, Job defends God saying, if God gave, God could take away too; therefore, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Then three of his friends come to commiserate with him, have a long theological discussion during which Job laments his misfortune and argues his innocence, and that he doesn’t deserve to be punished thusly. You see, ancient people believed that earthly misfortunes were punishments from God.
In the end, God shows up in all the majesty and puts the puny humans in their right place. “Where were you when I created this and that? Do you even know where light comes from? Who wets the dry land? Who makes the desolate land push forth grass?” What we read today is Job being humbled by God’s response. How can we understand our Creator God? We cannot get answers to all our questions about life and the universe. Sometimes, we just have to trust God and be faithful in our relationship with God. The Book of Job is both fascinating and controversial. Try to read it sometime and struggle with Job’s and his friends’ questions.
Miracles we create
We have established that the manifestation of God’s power doesn’t have to be supernatural. Like in Queen’s song Miracle, we can discover God’s goodness and power being manifested everywhere. When a Pakistani girl pursues and advocates for girls’ education, when a Swedish girl leads a climate justice movement, when an African American Baptist minister leads a racial justice movement, and they inspire people around the world and through the ages to bring a positive change, they create miracles. When a hurricane destroys a country and siblings around the world send help for them to rebuild its people’s lives, it’s a miracle.
You see, miracles are not only in mundane kind things, but also something we can and should participate in creating. Fighting our human greed and selfishness to do good for others is a miracle. With the love of God in our hearts, let us reveal the power of God by extending God’s reign everywhere in our world. Let us follow the life that Jesus led by serving and helping God’s beloved people. With our ministry, let us give hope to the marginalized and suffering people of God, one person and one group at a time; for spreading the power of God’s love in this world full of hate and domination is a miracle. As the Psalmist sang, let us taste and see the goodness of God, and pass it on.