The Problem with the Miraculous

The problem with the miraculous is people will only accept/believe for what their minds can grasp.  R. W. Schambach told a story of a man who gave the money he was saving for a new truck in a meeting one night.  Later that week he came back with a testimony of how he was working on his old truck when he noticed something he had missed for years.  It was a can that was stuck to the side of the engine and when he opened it there was a wad of 100 dollars bills in the can, more than enough to buy the truck he had been saving for.  On hearing this several people got up an ran out to check their cars.  They were sure that God would bless them in the exact same way.  They could only conceive a miracle for them because it had already happened to someone else that way.  Now testimonies are to build up your faith and your belief that God can and will do miraculous things but we get stuck on how God will do these things.  How many people are always willing to give God instructions on how their miracle is supposed to look and happen?  You wonder how many miracles have been missed because the person could not perceive that it could possibly happen that way.

While studying Jesus walking on the water the side story of Peter getting out of the boat is added in Matthew’s telling of the story.  I have heard many sermons on this over the years and most of the teachers have no problem with the fact that Jesus was actually walking on water.  But when it comes to Peter “seeing the wind” they will dismiss this as a natural occurrence of water blowing off the waves, etc. (NOTE to READER: This is a strange idea and I would not make it a doctrine but I will present this in the context of how far are you willing to believe God can do anything!)storm on Galilee

The reason this idea hit me was a preacher did just that the last time I heard a message on this topic.  He was building the faith of the people to be willing to see Jesus differently in our times of need.  But when it came to the wind that was impossible for Peter to have actually seen.  Duh! It is impossible to walk on liquid water but Jesus was doing that.  (People walk on water all the time and even drive trucks on it, it just happens to be frozen.)  Ok, since I am being weird let me throw out some other strange ideas: 1. Was Jesus wet from walking on the water?  2.  Did He walk up and down the waves or did they divide in front of Him?  Please do add these to “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.”

To say that something different was happening is an understatement.  The disciples saw Jesus as a “ghost”, Peter actually walked on water, Peter saw wind, and the boat was transported to shore “immediately” (John 6:21).  If you were looking for a physical reason for Jesus to walk on water the only logical one would be He changed how the molecules were acting toward each other.  So why could that have not extended to what was making the waves.  Maybe Peter had a good reason for sinking, he truly saw something he never expected, air molecules whirling around him.  I will still agree he should have kept his eyes on Jesus but was he distracted by the miraculous.  To add to this strange possibility, why did they use the term “ghost?”  That word phantasma (Strong’s 5326) is only used twice in the Bible and that is in connection with this story.  Jesus may have actually looked different because once again had He done something beyond what our minds can grasp!

Taking this back to Jesus and the whole story of feeding 5000 men and walking on the water.  The people in Gennesaret (where they landed) knew if they just touched His garment they could be healed (it had been done before) and the crowd from the miraculous feeding that finally found Him teaching in Capernaum just wanted a free meal ticket.  The crowd even though they had seen 5000 people fed needed more proof that He was the Messiah because in their mind Moses had done the same miracle before (Jesus tried to correct their thinking in John).  Many people will not believe in Christianity because of the miraculous things that are done by God in the Bible.  Painfully some Christians can only believe that God did those things in the Bible and not in modern times and so they must condemn the “crazies” that hold to the fact that God does not change.  “After all science knows more now than they did back then.”  As Christians I believe we need to understand that our faith demands a belief in miracles – past, present, and future.

How about you, how far will you let God be God.  Who knows maybe you will see wind and still keep walking on water?

Both “Feeding the 5000” and “Walking on Water” are part of the Seven Miracles of Jesus in the Book of John. 


Since school has just finished and I end the year giving all kinds of “test” when I read Psalm 66 I had to reopen the idea of being tested. This verse follows a section that refers to when Israel was in Egypt and came out of there.

Psalm 66

10 For You, God, tested us; You refined us like silver
11 You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.

12 You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water,
but You brought us to a place of abundance.

Testing here is bahan (# 1043 Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2 Edition – all my definitions for this study will be taken from here), which means to try, probe or examine to learn the genuineness of an object like testing for the purity of the metal. And we think we get tested – prison, burdens, rode over (a sign of derision), fire and water. Some of you have endured these things but most of us are clueless about this level of testing. But look where it will bring you “a place of abundance.”

This passage led me to Deuteronomy and several passages where Moses is describing/reminding the children and grandchildren of the people who came out of Egypt what had happened for them.


4:34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

Testings here is nasa (# 5814) (don’t you love Hebrew into English) and refers to proving character or faithfulness; if it is done toward God it implies lack of confidence in Him (a sin).

Signs ot #253 sign, mark or symbol that communicates a supernatural. NIV translators changed it from signs to miraculous signs over the years.

Wondersmopet #4603 wonder, sign, miracle, portent, symbol

Warmilhama #4878 fighting, battle, war and many other words like soldiers, warrior, etc.

Mighty handmighty- hazaq #2617 powerful, strong, hard, physical and internal strength, (negative) hardness of heart; hand –yad #3338 hand, arm, finger, figuratively control, power, strength, direction, care. It is added to other words for many meanings. If you exchange words it takes on many great meanings. It is the same phrase for the rest of the verses.

Outstretched armoutstretched –nata #5742 to spread out, be extended; arm – zeroa #2432 arm, forearm, shoulder, power, strength, force

Great and awesome deedsawesome deeds- mora #4616 fear, terror, respect, reverence, awesome deeds; great- gadol #1524 large, much, more, this can refer to physical size, quantity, degree, and social status

I think the testings were for Israel (the first three plagues) then the others were for Egypt and showed how serious God was about letting them go. The Lord was educating His people and showing them His concern and intent toward them. 

7:17 You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out? ” 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. 

Remember this is to the children of the original group who actually saw these things. God is willing to repeat these test and signs to get them into the land. Look at the teaching – recall a lesson learned and project to a new situation.

11:1 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws, and his commands always. Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country… It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, and what he did to Dathan and Abiram… But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.

The reason for the testing is verse 1 so that they can take strength in what they saw and the previous lessons learned. But now it was their turn to teach this to their children.

27:7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey… 11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.

With the test came the promise in Psalm 66 and then a new lesson in vs.11. It is also a reteach time as all of these verses have been.

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