Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Jesus did the miraculous

At first blush the answer is obvious... he is, er... Jesus! But the answer becomes more complex when we try to understand the nature of his incarnation. One side might argue that Jesus did his miracles out of his deity. This means that the miracles of Jesus would act as signs of his being deity in the flesh. of course, this is a fact that seems to escape most of the audiences that Jesus ministers to. While they do praise God and acknowledge the great miracles that Jesus is doing among them they see these signs less as a sign of Christ's uniqueness and more as a sign of God working through him. This brings us to the other possibility- that Jesus did his miracles through the same Holy Spirit that you and I have within us. Acts 10.38 seems to indicate that the" anointing of the Holy Spirit and power" is what allowed Jesus to heal and deliver. Jesus himself seems to indicate the same thing in Luke 4.18. This launching of his ministry seems to be linked to the anointing of the Spirit of God. My thinking is that these miracles are less linked with Christ's deity than they are with the deity of the Holy Spirit and the power of God working through him.

As Spirit-baptized believers we see this power as something expected by Jesus (Act 1.8) to come upon all of us. This enduement with power is not a sign of our uniqueness or holiness or spiritual maturity but of God working through us. We have no place for pride or haughtiness, rather we should be humbled that God would choose to use vessels like ourselves. We, as imperfect human vessels, are co-laborers with the Spirit in the anointed work that he has for us.

All the more reason for Spirit filled individuals to be refilled over and over, to make sure that they walk in the power of the Spirit and in the anointing that God has for each of us. There is work for us that powerless religion cannot accomplish!


Paul M. Harrison said...

I remember the first time I was asked, "When did Jesus finally know he was the Son of God?" I mean, miracle birth, gifted awareness as a teen, then upon baptism the Father tell him he is his son (or tells those present in another Gospel). Whatever he suspected beforehand, he knew at that point.

"I have been anointed to..." suggests, if not explicity declares, that his supernatural power comes from the Holy Spirit. Then, as you sugested, that Spirit is passed on to the church at Pentecost and lines like, "Greater works than these shall you do" come to mind.

But then there is the authority he has on earth that demons obey him, he has the power to forgive sins, and in many cases knows the future (like Peter's denials) but not the dates and times the Father has set for the end of time.

Of course the issue is if God's attributes cannot be muted, then how does an omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal God become finite flesh and blood in space and time? Gnostics and greek philosophers objected with this at the get go.

We are told this is a paradox, so it is hard to speak anything sensible about it. It's more like having to surrender to the mystery of it than to say anything practical about it.

Some reject Jesus and on these grounds as just contradictory attributes incoherently thrown together into a half-baked mythology and others will surrender their mundane lives to become monks and meditate on its mystery.

Pastor Dave said...

I think that the scripture does say that the divine attributes were muted. This is the kenosis theory - the emptying of Jesus from Phil 2. We know that his vision of the future was limited; but certainly all of his attributes had to expereince some of this limitation. For instance, his holiness- while demons scream in his presence, sinful humans do not: and his omnipotence, still hangs on the tree held there by nails.
The mystery, for me, is not how could God do it (though certainly a mystery) but THAT He did it for me. If another ponders that and sees contradiction... so do I. It is the grandest sort- the kind of contradication that worms its way into men's hearts, and heals their hurts, and turns them into lovers of others. May it be so in me.