Extraordinary Miracles

Acts 19:11-17
11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. 13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.

Aren’t miracles extraordinary on their own?  Yet Luke records that God was performing extraordinarily through Paul in this time.  This indicates two things: the Spirit-led life of the common miracles had become ordinary and this is an example of what Jesus was talking about in John 14 when He said:

11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

One thing we must grasp is that the life we saw Jesus living and afterwards His disciples (not just the original 12, but everyone who followed “The Way”) became accustomed to this new culture of Jesus.  Why then is this not normal to us?  Why are we not seeing these things today?  We have watered down Jesus’ culture he brought to share with us.  We have diminished what it truly means to live in the Kingdom of God.  To this world, healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out evil spirits are considered miracles because they have no other logical explanation in human thought.  With God, however, by living in His Spirit as residents of His Kingdom, this is commonplace.  Yet even then, as Paul saw the normality in “miracles,” they were seeing things beyond what had become normal even to them!  Remember, Luke had been doing an investigation of this Jesus guy to see if what people were saying was true.  His epistle as well as the book of Acts is the result of his investigation.  Until now, all the craziness he had witnessed was “normal” but this was extra-ordinary.

It is interesting to look into the original text concerning this phrase “extraordinary miracles.”  The original Greek words are tugchano dunamis, which explains the idea of “perfected power.”  God’s perfection was shining brightly through Paul.  While people were able to carry pieces of cloth “filled with power” to the sick for healing, it makes us think if the power was really contained in the cloth or if it was simply carried by the person carrying the cloth through their faith in Christ.  Jesus healed people from distances (remember the centurion that Jesus told to go home because his servant was already healed by faith in Matthew 8), so why couldn’t He do it then, too?  What makes us think that He doesn’t still do it?

We see the danger in this passage of looking at the power of God from a worldly perspective.  In reading about the Jewish chief priest doing this, you would think that as a chief priest he too would possess the power and authority of God.  Yet this priest missed the point.  It isn’t about nonchalantly wielding the power and name of God, it’s about enveloping yourself with Kingdom living and God teaching you step-by-step how to do these things.  Then, they will come naturally to us!  This priest went from never riding a bike to jumping on a motorcycle and crashed immediately.  The ultimate point is for the name of the Lord Jesus being magnified.  It isn’t for our own recognition nor for more people to fill our congregation; it is for the glory of God.  If we miss this very important detail, we will fail every time we attempt to wield the power of God.

So why hasn’t this become ordinary to us yet?  Why haven’t we begun fully living in the Kingdom of God?  Why hasn’t God’s presence in our lives become so prevalent that others sense and see there is a “Way” about us just by being in our presence?  Why do we not bring the reality of God to others in our day-to-day business?

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