A little case of the fever #LukeActs2014

He bent over her and spoke harshly to the fever, and it left her. She got up and served them. (Luke 4:39, CEB)

I don’t remember when I stopped having a hard time with the signs and wonders of Jesus. They used to trouble me. In my pre-Christian days, they were a great stumbling block to me, even long after I’d started worshiping regularly at a United Methodist Church.

Somewhere along the way, that difficulty dropped away. It had something to do with coming into contact with a living Jesus. A living Jesus is a resurrected Jesus, and a resurrected Jesus is a miracle. If Jesus is living, miracles must be.

Like I say, I do not recall when all this shifted for me. Was it the day of my baptism when Jesus took away my fear of dying? Was it earlier? Was it later? I don’t recall.

I do know that the miracles are tough for many people these days, whether they fancy themselves to be asking 17th century questions or 21st century questions of the Bible, to borrow a phrase from NT Wright.

I’ve lived under the pastoral care of men and women who tried to make those questions less thorny. They spoke about differences in medical knowledge in Jesus’ day and ours. They talked about literature and poetry. They tried to help make those stumbling blocks less difficult.

For me, at least, all that kindness was not in the end very helpful. When it comes down to it, we are stuck with a God who can speak harshly to a fever and make it go away, even if he often does not seem to do the same thing for us (see Luke 4:23-30 for more on that).

I had to be confronted at last by this claim. Yes, that is Jesus speaking to you. Yes, he is alive. Yes, he was dead. Yes, the resurrection happened and will happen again. The one who rose from the dead can surely cure a fever. It does not make sense to you because you live in a universe that is only as large as your eyes and imagination can see. Welcome to God’s good creation.

We are all Vernon Dursley driving to work in the opening chapter of the first Harry Potter book. We are determined not to see the wonders. We don’t want to know the secret that the boy under the stairs will soon discover. The world is more terrible and more wonderful than we have imagined. This is the gospel.

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7 thoughts on “A little case of the fever #LukeActs2014

  1. “For me, at least, all that kindness was not in the end very helpful.”
    Your comment exactly resonates with me, John. Using a dremel tool on the burrs of the gospel gouges too much of it away and polishes what should remain difficult.

  2. I’ve always found it interesting that the miracles Jesus performed were never really written as the “headline” ….but rather just noting an event that took place in that particular day….though to myself, the reader, I find them absolutely stunning and they always leave me in wonder and pondering. I spent 9 years in a charismatic worship setting. I witnessed a lot of attempts to manifest something “miraculous” but absolutely nothing occurred that was not often times simply an emotional reaction and more frequently than I was comfortable with, an attempt to establish spiritual superiority over others. I would find myself asking God so very often, “what is going on here?…do You still perform real miracles?” And then my heart was filled with something most amazing. The revealed truth that for the past 2000+ years perhaps the most extraordinary miracle of all has taken place on earth every single day…..every single day! Jesus has continued to perform miracles in human minds….a calling of God to Himself and to spiritual understanding and to a new way of life. Oddly……the church really never seems to celebrate this miracle….and this miracle, especially in the times and world we live in today….actually IS headline news.

  3. John, I am sure that God still heals today when Christian’s emboldened by the Holy Spirit speak in Jesus’ name. Late into my ministry, I invited the Holy Spirit to take control of “my” ministry and the Lord answered my prayer. Miracles began happening all around me. I saw God in coincidence after coincidence as I walked in simple obedience. Conversions became a regular part of our Sunday worship service as I began to intentionally offer Christ on Sunday morning. And, yes, there were healings.

    I pray you will see such a clear move of God as you serve in Christ’s name. The miracles continue.

    1. Thank you for your prayers, Holly. I’d love to hear more about how you invited the Holy Spirit and what that was like.

      1. The invitation came at a point of deep frustration in my ministry. I was wondering if I had done anything good at all. I was aware of a lack of fruitfulness. So, I took time apart to pray and seek God. I remember walking on the beach, and just saying, God, I can’t do this by myself, You’ll have to take over. Then, when I returned to work, over the next month, I began to see God working. I don’t think it was just my vision that had cleared. I honestly believe God began moving. I decided to let God plan my day, and as I followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I was led to the right places at the right time. It was rather odd, but I was led to several deathbeds, shortly before a person died; and I sensed God’s presence on those occasions. Then, we had a series of deaths that rocked the church–leaders and very active members. God poured out the Holy Spirit on that congregation in an amazing way. So much so, that our organist declared that when his mother died, he had never known such love before. A laywoman was also deeply touched by this, and began an organized ministry to help families dealing with death. The congregation was growing in their love of God and of one another. It was not my doing at all. About this time, my preaching also changed. Instead of preaching what I now consider to be “school-girl” essays as I had been trained to do, my preaching was more authentic. I began to offer Christ routinely as part of the sermon, and people were saved! During our Good Friday prayer vigil, a woman reported that she was healed of her breast cancer (she was on her way to the doctor for a biopsy when she stopped in to pray first). On Easter Sunday, a girl’s soccer team traveling through town, dropped in on our service. When I invited people to commit their lives to Christ, they filled the altar with tears falling from their eyes. None of this was my doing–except perhaps the shift in my preaching. I could say more, but the point is that it was all God’s doing. My role was simply to let God take control and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It was not my ministry anymore, but God’s.

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