The Problem Of Miracles
“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” (John 5:2–9 ESV)
This passage speaks of one of the miracles that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry.
It also speaks to the problem I have with miracles.
The problem isn’t that they never happen, the problem is that they are so random and infrequent as to make Christian expectations very confusing.
They happen, but they are in no way normative for the Christian life and to teach otherwise is unbiblical and deadly to real faith.
If you read the passage above clearly it says that there was a “multitude” of invalids hoping for healing.
Jesus almost certainly had to carefully step over “multitudes” of broken bodies to heal one of them.
The rest remained invalids.
There is nothing noted in the text that commends this man to us as being a faith filled believer (or that he was even praying for healing), nor is there anything in this text condemning those who were left invalids.
The reasons Jesus chose this one man for healing and the reasons He ignored the plight of the others are both wrapped in mystery.
I believe the story as it’s written, but I do not understand it at all.
So, I still anoint people with oil and pray for their healing.
I even advise people to do likewise with their pets.
If someone I loved died, I might pray that God would raise them…but I would also realize that He could have kept them from death in the first place if He so desired.
I believe in the resurrection of the body… the graves will open when Jesus returns, not before.
I would also realize that whether the miracle comes or it doesn’t, I do not and will not know why…the secret things belong to God.
I hope for miracles…I need a couple myself.
I know many who need one too…
Maybe we’ll be the “ones” among the multitudes…
I believe, help my unbelief…
Thanks again Michael for making points that go straight to my spirit.
I have lived a good many years now & this goes to the heart of what Jesus did concerning miracles. I now have another article of yours that will be printed out for future reference.
Thank you, my friend…
“Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died…” Perhaps, but did Jesus weep for their sorrow or did he weep at the thought of bringing Lazarus back from paradise to cope with this evil world? Absent from (mortal) body, present (now) with the Lord. This is not rationalizing.
Miracles? I suspect we are daily engulfed in miracles that are unseen.. As i look back on my devout grandparents’ lives, i realise that their lives were full of miracles…
Thankful today for a God who is long suffering and gracious as i muddle through….
This is a pretty interesting passage because the ESV seems to suggest one of many were chosen, whereas the NIV can be read as only one was there at the time(?) And then there is the problem of verse 4, left out of some translations but which suggests that a single choice was a common occurrence and that this time Jesus was the ‘angel’ making the choice.
And yet there are so many other instances where Jesus healed ‘many’ and ‘all’. https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Jesus-Healing
It’s such a mystery. If the ESV (and others) are the most accurate, I’d love to know why it was only ‘one at a time’ whether by Jesus or before. The best I can come up with is “God’s sovereignty”.
Sometimes that feels like a cheesy explanation, especially when provided to non-believers. Thoughts?
while our logic is limited to our frame of reference, God’s isn’t? He sees the end from the beginning?