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Why Don't We See More Miracles?

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued our sermon series for Lent:  "Jesus Answers Our Questions."  The question we looked at today was "Why don't we see more miracles?"

There are two possible conditions in our hearts when we ask this question:

1)  Our faith is being tested and we need God to move.  For this condition, we looked at Luke 7:18-23.

2)  Faith is absent.  We're being a critic.  For this condition, we looked at Luke 11:29-32.

First, we looked at three introductory observations about miracles:

1)  The miracles in the Bible are real.

The miracle stories are very different from other miracle stories coming out of that culture, and they were written in the lifetime of eyewitnesses.

2)  There are not as many miracles as we might imagine.

3)  Some of the miracles are authenticating Jesus and are uniquely associated with him as the Son of God.

Yet Jesus did promise that his followers would do greater things (John 14:12).  So why don't we see more miracles?

When we ask with skepticism and doubt, Jesus does not respond.  Essentially, he says, "You've seen all you're going to see."

The sign of Jonah:  Even the pagan Ninevites knew to listen to someone who'd been in the belly of a whale for three days.  So they should believe after Jesus would be in the grave for three days.

Christianity is not a code of conduct.  Christianity rises and falls based on a historical fact, and whether it happened or not.

To skeptics, Jesus gives the sign that he overcame the grave.

Jesus will answer those who truly seek, not those coming with mockery or derision (Psalm 1:1).

Seeker or skeptic?  It's a matter of the heart.

God has made us for Himself.  When we come to the point that we want God, sometimes we experience God's power and amazing things happen.  If we just want God's stuff, we don't get either one.

When we come to Jesus with faith, he reminds us that there are miracles happening all around us.

Ed reminded us that the building we were sitting in is one of God's miracles.  And then he told his own story of healing from high blood pressure, even with an extreme family history of heart disease.

John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Christ from prison.  The real question behind it was, "Why am I in prison?"  Jesus' answer was:  I will indeed bring the kingdom, but not yet.

It's also true that the kingdom of God is "already/not yet."

Miracles today are temporary.  Luke 17:20-21, Luke 19:11-12.

Even though Ed was healed from high blood pressure, it's temporary.  He's still going to die one day.

One day, all healing will be permanent.

Jesus' ministry is the presence of the future.

We finished with three answers to the question "Why don't we see more miracles?"

1)  We don't have enough faith.

2)  We don't ask enough (James 4:2).

3)  The kingdom of God is not yet fully here.

We get to see glimpses of it.  It's coming!

The Politics of Jesus

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series, "Jesus Answers Our Questions" looking at the question, "What are the politics of Jesus?"  We looked at Mark 12:13-17.

America is now extremely divided politically, but Jesus lived his life in an environment even more highly charged politically.

Jesus did not avoid making waves.  This incident took place in the last week of his life.  He began the week with a parade leading Jesus in through the main gate of Jerusalem, and the crowd began singing a song about the Messiah.  Controversial!

Jesus headed straight for the temple area and things got wild.  Now the authorities were suspicious and angry and wanted to kill him.  They sent some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him.

Political parties of 1st Century Palestine were religious and relating to Rome.  The religious parties were the Pharisees and Sadducees.  The Pharisees believed in resurrection and in strict observation of the law.  The Sadducees didn't.  Relating to Rome, the Zealots wanted to overthrow Rome.  The Herodians were mostly wealthy sympathizers who enjoyed the favor of the Roman authorities and supported them.

So a group of Pharisees and Herodians was a rather odd pairing, but they couldn't imagine Jesus giving an answer that wouldn't make someone angry.  It was a political hot button question.  And could definitely get him in trouble with the Romans.

First they flattered Jesus, then they asked him, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?  Should we or shouldn't we?"

They were talking about a specific controversial tax -- the head tax, which was a tax on your person.  It was usually one denarius, which wasn't a lot, but the idea of a tax on your person was very controversial.  25 years before, there'd been a revolt led against this tax.  The leader had even cleansed the temple before he was caught and executed.

So they were asking him for a yes or no answer.  "Are you a revolutionary, Jesus?  Yes or No?"

No, Jesus was not a revolutionary in the sense they meant.

Jesus was not and is not primarily advocating political change.

This is not the change Jesus taught about and gave his life for.  The potential for those kinds of changes to effect real change in hearts and minds and habits is negligible.

It was not about politics for Jesus.

Don't give Caesar the allegiance he's asking for.  Give that to God.

They wanted a Yes or No.  You can't stay angry without oversimplification.  Jesus refuses oversimplification.  He says Yes and No in a way that's profoundly nuanced and textured, not political doublespeak.

Pastor Ed concluded with his own personal takeaways:

--I can and should be a voice of civility.

He strives to keep a right-size view of the importance of politics and not oversimplify.  Using a pattern from I Peter 3:14-16, speaking "with gentleness and respect."

--I don't have to join in the hand-wringing.

The revolution Jesus is advocating brings real change to hearts, minds, habits, and ultimately cultures.