The Purpose of Miracles
Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
The Advent season is, in some ways, about hoping for a miracle in the midst of desperation. We retell the promises that light will shatter darkness, evil will be vanquished, and a Messiah will restore the world to rights. And then, Advent hope turns to Christmas miracle in the virgin birth of Jesus.
What are the purposes of miracles? Some would say miracles are supernatural events that exist outside the laws and confines of creation. In other words, miracles are things that should not happen, and that is why our responses are often puzzlement or denial. Nothing about a miracle makes sense when viewed with this perspective, and that is why they are so difficult to believe.
What if miracles are not unnatural? What if miracles are, in fact, more natural? What if they’re supra natural? I have heard miracles described not as things that should not be, but instead as revealing the way things should be. Miracles, then, reveal the purpose about the one performing the miracle.
The miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus is certainly a revealing process. Jesus’ arrival into our world is a miracle because it reveals that God cares so much for the world that he entered into it to demonstrate how things should be. The miracles of healings demonstrate that sickness and disease should not be. The miraculous food distributions demonstrate that hunger should not be. Miracles of exorcisms point to a God who has power over evil. The miracle of resurrection reminds us that death must be defeated.
Jesus didn’t come into the world to perform miracles. Miracles really serve as an aside in the midst of his ministry. They are moments that reveal, on a deeper level, who Jesus is and who the Father is. Miracles point toward the way God intended the world to be from the beginning.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
When you hope for a miracle, are you hoping for something unnatural or a restoration of how things should be? What does the birth of Jesus tell us about who God is?
Almighty God, perform a miracle in my life so I can see you for who you really are. Amen.
READ THE PASSAGE IN CONTEXT:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”