Jesus performed a lot of miracles during his time on Earth, and I’ve had a tough time picking a favourite – until recently.
Turning water into wine was pretty impressive, but I’m more of a beer drinker. Calming a storm by rebuking the wind and waves is downright awe-inspiring. And raising Lazarus from the grave after he’d been dead for several days was probably the most impressive of his miraculous acts.
But my favourite has to be when He walked on water.
As wrong-headed as this line of thinking may be, the mechanics of this miracle have always fascinated me. How did it work? Did He make His feet super-cold so the water froze as he touched it? Did He temporarily alter His own mass and density to make Himself lighter so he wouldn’t sink? Did He create some sort of invisible, bubble-like forcefield around himself?
Probably doesn’t matter, but it’s kinda fun for a sci-fi nerd to speculate about. Still, that’s not why the Aquastroll is my favourite miracle.
The thing that wows me most about this event is that Jesus isn’t the only one who did it. He invited Simon Peter to join him on the waves, and when Peter obeyed, he took a few steps on the water before he began to doubt, and sank.
Until recently, I looked at Peter’s short-lived hike as essentially a piggybacking on Jesus’ power. He walked on water because Jesus extended his bubble around him. But the fact that it’s Peter’s own misgivings that sink him suggest otherwise.
Maybe Peter had his own bubble. He saw Jesus doing something amazing, and decided audaciously and impulsively that he could do it too, through the power of God. On the strength of his own faith in God, he succeeded for a while. Only when he came to his earthly senses did his bubble burst.
Perhaps you don’t have to be God-made-flesh to walk on water. You only need to have true faith in God. And that theory puts Jesus and His miracles in a markedly different light for me.
I have to admit that sometimes I fail to be terribly impressed by some of Jesus’ miracles. After all, if you’re the creator of the universe – the mastermind behind mountains and oceans and giraffes and platypuses and venus flytraps and rhododendrons, the poetic balance of nature and the flawless laws of physics – feeding 5,000 people with two sardines and five Kaiser rolls is child’s play.
But maybe my error here is that I tend to attribute Jesus’ miracles to his divinity. After all, if He’s God, He can do anything.
And while the Bible makes it clear that during his earthly life, Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, it’s equally clear that He lived as a man, not a god. One of the things Jesus came to do was to set an example of what a proper human life looks like.
It’s therefore implied that Jesus set His heavenly powers aside during His time on Earth, but I’d always kind of assumed He put them back into play whenever He needed to perform a miracle. My recent awareness of Peter’s bubble puts that understanding in doubt.
If that were the case, what kind of example would he have set for us? If He’d kept His God Card in his back pocket, and pulled it out to play it whenever He felt like it, How could we – who don’t have a God Card – be expected to go and do likewise?
Maybe that means He didn’t do anything we can’t do, if we’re as aligned with our Father as He was. And I find that quite staggering and exciting.
After Peter’s misadventure in water walking, he made many more mistakes, but he eventually got with God’s program, and God made amazing things happen through him – he even raised someone from the dead!
Maybe God can work miracles through us, too. Honestly, what’s the difference between us and the fumbling, impetuous bumbler named Simon Peter? Is it that Peter knew Jesus personally? If so, how long are we going to let that be a barrier? It’s worth noting that Peter was quite a screw-up while Jesus was a man of flesh and blood, and only truly got on track with his Master after He’d gone back to Heaven. He didn’t need Jesus to be in the flesh in order to serve Him, and maybe we don’t, either. Maybe all we have to do is put aside our doubts, climb out of the boat and step forward in faith.
A few paragraphs ago, I described the Feeding of the Five Thousand as child’s play by heavenly standards. It was – and we’re all called to be children of God.
What miracles does God want to perform through you today?
Peace be with you.