Friday, December 20, 2013

The Miracles of Jesus: Not Magic, But Lovingkindness

The lesson we should draw from the miracles of Jesus is not that we can work magic, but that we must care for each other.

Mary Fairchild at Christianity has compiled a list of The Miracles of Jesus, 37 in all, with citations to the Gospels for each. The vast majority of these are incidents of healing: blindness, deafness, muteness, lameness, a withered hand, cleansing leprosy, curing epilepsy ("casting out spirits"), and raising the dead. Of the remainder, most involve feeding people ("loaves and fishes").

We could interpret these stories literally as a supernatural display of God-like power -- that Jesus was a powerful magician, braced with divine authority. We might draw the lesson that if we pray hard enough to Jesus he will work these wonders for us and our loved ones, or that if we become acolytes of Jesus we, too, can exercise this type of power to heal the sick by the laying on of hands.

Or we could interpret the miracles as we do the parables -- as models for how we are to treat others. That we must do what we can to heal the sick and feed the hungry. That we must become healers and givers of sustenance not by saying magic words or casting spells but in what we do and the decisions we make, both individually and collectively. That we must strive to be that miracle, not by magic, but by hard work and sacrifice and sharing.

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