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.