“No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
– Acts 2:16-21
“Christine remembered that moments later her grandfather decided he must go outside. When the neighbors saw him walking around, they were all stunned. ‘What happened to you?’ they asked. ‘We haven’t seen you in such a long time! How could you be walking?’ Her grandfather was beaming with joy and simply continued walking, talking to different neighbors. ‘After that moment,’ Christine said, ‘I decided that I would never doubt God again. I suddenly realized just how real he is and how powerful.’ Christine’s whole family had their faith changed by witnessing the miracle. They had previously believed in God, but perhaps in a somewhat abstract, intellectual way; after this experience their faith in God and his power was tremendously deepened.”
– Eric Metaxas, Miracles
To provide the back story, Christine’s grandfather became ill. For six months, he could barely stand and could barely hobble to the bathroom. He was essentially bedridden. Christine, a teen-ager at the time and encouraged by an aunt who had seen a faith healing, held her grandfather’s legs and prayed for healing. Almost immediately, her grandfather got out of bed and began to walk.
When I was in high school, the Christian Student Body was the largest, and most active, club in the school. This was during the “Jesus Movement” and Mississippi was well within the Bible Belt at the time. The group seemed to have a theme of “find the last convert so that Jesus can return.”
Matthew 24:14 states, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
If we could find that last nation, and preach there, we could hasten Jesus’ return, or so our student body thought at the time. The Great Commission, given by Jesus, is to take the Word of God to all of the corners of the Earth. With this and Matthew 24:14, it is no wonder that the high school student body would think in such terms.
But in the case of Christine’s grandfather, the effect of the miracle on the faith of everyone in the family was profound. Add the complexity that Christine lived with her family in Taiwan at the time, and her aunt took a trip to New York, where she saw the faith healing. It makes the miracle more unique.
Yet, isn’t “growing faith” one of Jesus’ main focuses in all of His miracles? He could not perform a lot of miracles in His hometown due to their lack of faith. Jesus talked of the faith of a mustard seed, but when that much was not present, how can it grow? After all, the farmer that does not plant seed (or seedlings, etc.) will waste his time looking for a harvest. Christine had a child-like faith. She had talked to her friends about having more faith in Jesus before this happened and was willing to trust God, but she still reserved some limitations in her level of trust. Those limitations were gone after the miracle, and the miracle affected everyone else in the family as well.
In today’s Scripture where Peter quotes Joel, Peter is reminding the people in Jerusalem that people will dream dreams and prophesy. Wonders will be performed in heaven and signs on earth. Some think that Peter was talking only of Jesus, but the wonders and signs continued in the book of Acts. Some think the wonders and signs stopped in the first century, but there are signs today when something shows up on a medical scan and then, without treatment, disappears when the next scan is performed. Angels appear and help people in times of need, disappearing afterward. Miracles of perfect timing can save lives. Some may say that it is coincidence, but God has His hand in those things as well.
Miracles happen today, because God winks at us. In a previous post, Eric Metaxas was quoted as saying that God enters into time and space to wink at us or give us a little nudge. Also, in a different quote, Metaxas mentions that if God granted all our requests, we would be controlling God. If that were true, he said that miracles would cease to be miracles. The miracle would in effect become common, every day events that no one would notice.
There are some denominations that think that miracles do not happen anymore. Yet, there are stories of miracles in each century since Christ ascended back into heaven. (I am sure the Catholic church has records relating to each person who is canonized with the miracles documented.) Each time, it is like God is saying, “Hey, remember me?” It’s a wink or a nudge that lets us know that God is not just alive and real, but He is here, among us.
If someone witnessed a modern miracle, that person would still have to have a ‘seed’ of faith for that faith to grow. Otherwise, they’d chalk it up to coincidence, a false diagnosis, or other excuse, however flimsy, that would make their lack of faith feel secure. A boy has a broken leg, proven by x-rays. Then, the boy is healed without a scar on the bone in the next x-ray. Is it a miracle? “No, someone swapped the x-ray film.” Really? This excuse comes from the same group of agnostics who think that conspiracy theorists are crazy, but they use their own conspiracy theory to argue the miracle away.
But for the ones that have that mustard seed of faith, seeing a miracle causes the seed to germinate. The resulting plant bears fruit. Many people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus as a result.
In time, sin creeps in and some of the people claim hallucinations or coincidences or other ideas, and the miracle loses its luster. But the miracle lives on in the hearts of the witnesses and those that trust the veracity of the witnesses who are willing to speak.