The Power of One Miracle
The Power of One Miracle
Dr. Reggie Ogea
After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). 2) A huge crowd was following him because they saw the signs that he was performing by healing the sick. 3) Jesus went up a mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4) Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near. 5) So when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so that these people can eat?” 6) He asked this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7) Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.” 8) One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9) “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish — but what are they for so many? ” 10) Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place; so they sat down. The men numbered about five thousand. 11) Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks he distributed them to those who were seated - so also with the fish, as much as they wanted. 12) When they were full, he told his disciples, “Collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted.” 13) So they collected them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. 14) When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This truly is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
I Believe in Miracles Because….
…. the Bible is infallible and inerrant. Infallible means absolutely trustworthy and inerrant means truth without any mixture of error. The Bible contains 40 miracle stories in the Old Testament and 35 miracle testimonies in the New Testament. Are all of these true? Well, it depends on what you believe about the Bible. If you do NOT believe the Bible to be the infallible and inerrant Word of God, then the accounts of miracles are only stories. But if you believe the Bible to be absolutely trustworthy and truth without any mixture of error, then every miracle in these pages really happened just as the Bible says they happened. For example, Christmas validates one of the greatest miracles in the history of the world – the miracle of what Matthew called parthenos = virgin birth. Everything else that Scripture validates about Jesus Messiah hinges on the truth we celebrate at Christmas: Emmanuel = God with us. If the story about Jesus’ birth is fabricated myth, then so is everything else about Jesus. The miracle of the virgin birth is as crucial as the miracle of resurrection to validate Jesus as God in human flesh. (John MacArthur, God With Us, 46)
….I’ve observed miracles in other people’s lives. I’ve been involved in pastoral ministry for 41 years. I’ve been called many times to pray for someone who had a disease, or who was facing serious surgery, or who had a wayward child, or who had a troubled marriage, or who had a failing business. I have joined that person or family in prayer for that impossible situation. I’ve watched and witnessed God do a miracle of healing disease, sometimes through removing the disease and sometimes through the miracle of medical technology. I’ve watched and witnessed God bring home wayward children, restore hopeless marriages, or resolve failing businesses. In every instance, when I’ve joined others in prayer, God answered the prayer, and sometimes, God worked a miracle. At times, God’s answer to prayer proved a different result from what we prayed for. Sometimes, for example a prayer for healing is not answered in this life. When my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, we prayed for many things, including God’s healing. After a three-year journey involving numerous answers to our prayers, God ultimately healed her – he took her to heaven — a place of no more death, no more pain, no more suffering, no more sorrow.
….I’ve experienced miracles in my own life. Allow me to share just one. When our daughter was a high school senior, we received that dreaded phone call on a February afternoon — “You daughter has been in an car accident.” Her injuries were serious, but not life-threatening. In the accident, her right hip joint had been dislocated and shattered. She was put in traction immediately, and five days later endured extensive hip reconstructive surgery. The surgeon was optimistic, but firm — “She will be in the hospital — in traction — for six weeks. It would be our hope that she could be in a wheel chair for her graduation.” He also shared the worst with us – the possibility that her hip would not heal properly, the possibility that she might face an eventual hip replacement; and, worst of all, the possibility that she might encounter difficulty in birthing children and might not be able to have children. We did the only thing we knew to do – we began to pray and ask God for a miracle. Less than three months after the accident, our daughter graduated from high school — not in a wheel chair, not on crutches, but she marched with her class, and unless you knew what she had been through, you would hardly detect the slight limp. When she marched across that stage to receive her diploma, my wife and I looked at each other through tears and whispered, “There goes our miracle.”
I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES. What is a miracle? John Maxwell defined a miracle as “An event which unmistakably involves an immediate and powerful action of God designed to reveal His character or purposes.” A miracle is not about us – it’s all about the power and purpose of God.
It is impossible to believe in a sovereign God and not believe in miracles. If the biblical accounts of miracles really happened, then God is still working miracles among His people today. Because of my experiences with miracles, and because of my belief in the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible, I’ve wondered – Is there a pattern for how God works a miracle? The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four of the Gospels. I hope you will be encouraged this morning by the process of a miracle.
- Miracles require a Need. Listen to Matthew’s version of the miracle:
“When Jesus heard about it, he withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When evening came, the disciples approached Him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves” [Matthew 14:13-15]
Every miracle in the Bible begins with a need, burden, or problem. In this instance, the need was a crowd of five thousand that needed to be fed. Matthew and John both validate a crowd of five thousand men, besides women and children. This was a huge need. The bigger the need, the greater the miracle. A huge need requires a greater miracle. What was true on that day 2000 years ago is true of us today. Every miracle in our lives begins with a need, and the bigger the need, the greater the miracle. However, allow me give our God a shout-out: No need is too large for our God to meet, no burden is too great for our God to lift, and no problem is too big for our God to solve.
- Miracles require a Few. Luke’s version of the miracle adds this detail:
Late in the day the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.’” [Luke 9:12] Luke affirmed that The Twelve sensed the need. None of the accounts of this miracle give indication that the crowd sensed the need — just the 12 disciples. I have an announcement to make: You don’t need a majority to have a miracle. Many of us seek to inform as many as we can of our need, our burden, or our problem, thinking that everybody’s awareness and concern will move the Hand of God. Some of us Baptists even think we must vote on it first. But the Bible says that it only takes a need, burden, or problem, validated by a few. So, here’s the process of a miracle so far: A need, burden, or problem, agreed upon by a few.
- Miracles require a Responsibility. Both Luke and Mark confirm Jesus’
response to the need presented him by the Twelve: “You give them something to eat.’” [Luke 9:13; Mark 6:37] Here’s what happens when there is a need — we look to God for the solution. “Lord, HELLLLLLLLLLLP! Do something, God.” But Jesus said to these Disciples, “You give them something to eat.” We look to God for the solution, but God glares at us for the responsibility. Here’s our problem – we look for magic instead of miracles. Do something, God. But God responds, “How about let’s start with you.” We live in a culture looking for miracles — we just want someone else to do it. We don’t want to take the responsibility. What if Moses, when confronted with crossing the Red Sea, would have responded, “I don’t cross Red Seas – not me, Lord.” What if Noah, when faced with a building project that would take him 100 years, would have responded, “I don’t build arks – not me Lord.” What if David, when daunted by Goliath, would have responded, “I don’t stand against giants, not me, Lord.” What if Mary, when challenged by the angel, would have responded, “I don’t do virgin births.” What if Paul, when prompted to write epistles to troubled churches, would have responded, “I don’t write letters.” And what if Jesus, when facing crucifixion, would have responded, “I don’t do crosses.” So, how will you respond when confronted by your next impossibility?
When there is a need, burden, or problem agreed upon by a few, God is looking for
people who will take personal responsibility.
- Miracles require a Risk. Back to where we started – John’s account:
So when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread so that these people can eat?” He asked this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish — but what are they for so many?” [John 6:5-8]
Here’s the loud lesson for us — God can use anything, but He requires everything. God could have used anything there to feed that crowd, but he wanted everything the disciples could find. They circulated among the people – Andrew found one boy with a lunch of five small loaves of bread, probably no bigger than biscuits, and two small fish. We sometimes talk about this boy as willingly giving up his lunch, but I think it was hard for him to give up his lunch. He had enough for himself; why care about others? And anyway, what these men were suggesting just didn’t make sense. How was his small lunch going to be enough to feed all those people? He and the disciples would learn that day what we all must learn: Give all we have to God, and then allow Him do what only He can do. You may be too big for God to use, but you’ll never be too small for God to use. Right here is where most of our miracles break down. Many of us are not willing to give our all, regardless of the odds. We don’t dream big enough dreams and pray big enough prayers.
A Need + A Few + A Responsibility + A Risk = A Miracle. When there is a need, burden, or problem agreed upon by a few, and each person understands his/her responsibility and risks whatever it takes, then God works a miracle! Jesus took that lunch, offered a blessing, and the disciples began to distribute the food. All four of the Gospels record that there was enough to feed the entire crowd, and after the crowd dispersed, the disciples gathered 12 baskets of leftovers. What miracle do you need today in your life, your family, your marriage, your business? What miracles need to happen at First Baptist Lafayette? God is still a miracle-working God!
Oh, about our daughter Amy and the question of whether or not she could have children. Meet Zoe – she’ll turn 15 next month. Any questions?
And one other thing: Don’t focus on the miracle. The message of the Bible is: Believe in miracles, but trust in Jesus!