Relieving yourself under a restroom sign in the mall is like being miraculously healed of a disease and not turning to go and worship Jesus. Just as the restroom sign points you in the right direction to the real place of comfort, Miracles are signs to point you in the right direction to Something Greater; they are not meant to eclipse or distract or stop you short of “Someone Great.” No one feels completely relieved until they are in the restroom that the restroom sign pointed to. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. And no one is to feel relieved until their hearts are satisfied with Jesus himself – regardless of a physical healing.
When the crippled man was healed of his infirmity from birth recorded in Acts 3, Luke says that the healing was a sign that pointed to the Person of Jesus Christ (4:16, 22). If you see, experience, or seek a miracle without ever coming to a deeper knowledge of who Jesus is, it is like taking a whiz underneath a restroom sign. That’s NOT what signs are for. Signs are not the destination, they point us to the destination that we seek. If you walk into the presence of a miracle, and get all gushy and fascinated about it without ever worshiping Christ, then you are like the sign-seekers that Jesus rebuked: You really don’t want to worship and know Christ, you only want to see and experience miracles/signs (Mark 8:12; John 6:30-35). Jesus knows the difference in the heart between sign-seekers and Jesus-seekers.
I’ll offer two experiences. You decide which one is preferable.
You’re a leper who is healed by Jesus. You go on your way healed, having met him. But you don’t return to thank him because you really don’t respect Jesus for who he is. You do not see that you need your sins forgiven and you do not feel in your heart a love for him. But you’re healed – and that’s all that matters (Luke 17:11ff). Or,
You’re a very poor man with diseases so bad in your body that the dogs lick your boils that will not stop oozing their foul and putrid fluids. You’re sick. And you’re hungry. You lay there at the entrance of a palatial estate, hoping for some wealthy man to pay whatever it takes to get you healthy. Even Jesus is somewhere in the vicinity but he never shows up to heal you. But you believe in your heart that he is the real deal. Salvation is in that man because he alone can forgive your sins and make you right with God so that when you die, heaven will be your home. But, he doesn’t heal you and the rich man won’t pay for medical care. So . . . you just lay there starving to death while sepsis sets in, and by morning time, the dogs quit licking because your heart quit ticking. You’re dead. But you’re with the Lord (Luke 16:19ff).
Which is preferable to your desires:
1. To be healed of all your diseases by Christ himself but remain cool and distant from Christ, satisfied with the healing without knowing the healer?
2. Or, to die of terrible disease and starvation but all your hope and trust was in Jesus as Lord and Savior?
Miracles are not the goal and they are not an end in themselves. Even the cripple-from-birth in Acts 3 was never healed by Jesus though Jesus knew the man and saw him often because he was laid at the entrance to the temple everyday to beg for money. And Luke says that he was more than 40 years old, which means he was born before Jesus and lived his whole life as a cripple in Jesus’ presence (4:22). How many times then did Jesus walk right by him? Clearly then, Jesus did not heal everyone who needed to be healed. But that’s the point. Physical healing is not our greatest need. Better to be a cripple all your life with faith in Jesus, than to be healed and not see who the healer is. Miracles are only signs that point to the future presence of the Lord when you are raised with a new body. Some things are made new now, everything later.
This does not diminish the place of Miracles if you happen to know or experience a work of God outside natural law and design that God has embedded into his creation, like medicine. But this does help us recalibrate our pursuits and identify miracle-seeking as idolatry.
One final thought is that all Miracles of physical healing, without exception, are temporary in duration and therefore, their impact upon this present life is limited. They are not ultimate because everyone still dies. The healed leper still died of some kind of disease. The blind man who received his sight still got old and possibly developed cataracts or glaucoma. Lazarus raised from the dead still underwent the whole funeral gig again. Can you imagine poor Lazarus developing pneumonia the following winter: “Oh no – not again . . . cough, cough, whiz, whiz . . .” Dead again. Serious bummer!
Jesus said, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins – he said to the man who was paralyzed – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home” (Luke 5:24). Let the Miracles recorded in Scripture direct you to know and worship the risen Christ who alone can forgive your sins – that’s their purpose.