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Friday, January 21, 2011

1/22/11- John 2:23-25 Miracles and Faith

 23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.  24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

("Healing of Ten Lepers" James Tissot 1886-1896, Brooklyn)

Thoughts: I once knew a young man who had witnessed a healing miracle.  He insisted he had seen it.  His friend who had been crippled from birth was healed in a camp meeting, and he "actually watched his leg grow", he said.  But while such a miracle had made an impression on him, it did not keep him from wandering away when he graduated from high school.  Miracles wow us for a moment but they are soon forgotten.  If you don't believe me, then think about how many miracles the people of Israel saw in Egypt- the ten plagues and the Passover, that parting of the waters.  Yet time after time they wanted to go back to Egypt and doubted God.  Many of us have experienced dramatic and unusual answered prayer but we quickly forget these things in the face of temptation or hard times.  So Jesus did not put his trust in people who believed in him because they had seen him perform a miracle.  Jesus knew how fickle popularity of people is, and did not depend on it in his ministry.  The crowds that would hail him as King on Palm Sunday would shout "crucify" later that week.  God uses miracles, but they are to be combined with faith and faithfulness.

Prayer: Lord, though people are fickle, and I am not as steadfast as I should be, thank you for your faithfulness and constant love.

John Calvin Abridged:  It was some fruit of his signs that many wished to follow his doctrines and name.  "Name" means the same as "authority."  Their faith was not a pretended faith, but was based on worldly and earthly reasons.  Hypocrites assent to the Gospel- not that they may devote themselves in obedience to Christ, but because they do not wish to reject all of it, or they cannot think of reason enough to reject it.  While they may not wish to make war on God, yet when they see that faith opposes their lusts, they are offended or withdraw from the faith.  Miracles may assist us in faith, but they are not substitutes for faith.  There is a faith that is made of only understanding and not of the heart.  It quickly fades and is described as "dead" by James (2:17). Christ did not reckon them as genuine disciples, but saw them as volatile and unsteady.  Some ask if we too should hold people as suspect until they prove their faith.  But Christ saw the very roots of the trees whereas we are only able to see the fruit.  We should not be overly-suspiscious of others.  Yet Christ gives us a spirit of discernment that the Church may be protected.

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