Miracles are overrated.

Do I have your attention? I mean, I get it, some of the miracles Jesus did were pretty incredible, but the reason I say that they’re overrated is because Jesus himself expressed frustration at people’s preoccupation with them. And while he’s talking to folks a long time ago about other groups of folks a long time ago, I think Christ’s words are a good warning to us here in 21st-century central Iowa.

In Matthew Chapter 11, a portion of Scripture begins with “and Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles…” (Matthew 11:20).

You might read this and think, “Wait a second, isn’t that kind of shifty? Like, Jesus is going and blessing people and then talking trash about them somewhere else?” But the rest of the verse highlights just where we might misunderstand the whole purpose of some of Jesus’ more miraculous actions: “Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God.” 

We are all glad to witness something miraculous, and we are always grateful for something to help our situation. And please don’t misunderstand: Jesus certainly didn’t perform these miracles as some sort of transaction. But what had happened was that people had treated Jesus like some sort of traveling miracle man that has cool party tricks; they saw something incredible, and yet, they went back about the rest of their day without realizing the life-changing truth of God’s love for us.

If we aren’t careful, we can fall into the same trap. Sure, maybe we haven’t encountered the physically-embodied Son of God performing miracles to our neighbors, but we are encountering incredible things that God is doing in our midst: bringing people together, using people’s talents and abilities to bring God’s Kingdom here, and leading us into who we are made to be. There are mountaintop spiritual moments where we realize just how much God loves us.

Often one of these mountaintop moments happens for our church community during big services like Christmas Eve. We pull out all the stops for our big services that have the potential to share the Gospel in a new and accessible way. It isn’t because we like a big show (trust me, it would be way easier to do something much less low-key than real animals on stage), it’s because we love to express ourselves by providing a variety of experiences that show the joy and love that God gives us.

And you can experience ALL of that and still miss it.

These people in the towns Jesus visited experienced the presence of God healing and performing miracles in their midst and still went back to their own brokenness. The danger is that we might do the same.

Question for reflection:

  • What is one way that you can remind yourself of just how special God is? Not in the sense that everything needs to be a mountaintop moment – where is God in your regular, everyday life?