"Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, 'See that you don't tell anyone...'" Matt.8:4 (NIV).
Already a dead man walking, the outcast seized what might have been his one and only chance. Slipping into the crowd unannounced, he made his way to Jesus. Kneeling before the young rabbi, he voiced his request.
"Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean." Matthew 8:2 (NIV).
A shockwave reverberated though the throng...a leper! Fear of contamination swept over the people who checked themselves for even the slightest, inadvertent contact with the unclean man. Surely the rabbi would rebuke the scofflaw for his careless, lawless actions. To their astonishment Jesus did no such thing, instead He did the unthinkable.
"Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy" Matthew 8:3 (NIV).
Here was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to not only validate His ministry but to also raise His public profile. Instead, He squashed it. Rather that instigate a major public relations campaign, Jesus told the man to tell no one but the priests about his healing.
Media outlets and the internet routinely report miracles. Ministries promote healings and other miraculous events. In light of Jesus' action, are we missing something?
It's normal to be excited when God's power is demonstrated, especially when He works through us. Surely God's willingness to use us is proof of our great spiritual stature and maturity. We have arrived. Have we?
The publicity produced by the leper's healing negatively impacted Jesus' ministry.
"As a result, Jesus could not longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places, yet the people still came to him from everywhere" Mark (NIV).
Our Lord knew the downside of fame and notoriety.
"Jesus answered, 'Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your full..." John (NIV).
His ministry, reduced to a meal ticket, Jesus' effectiveness was severely impaired. At His arrest in the garden, He failed to emphasis His miracles as proof of His legitimacy.
"Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me" Mark (NIV emphasis mine).
I am pro-miracles and would love to see more. Maybe we all would if they weren't used for P.R. purposes. Are we willing to work (emphasis work) miracles if only God, ourselves and the recipients know about them? Jesus was.
The working of miracles is a gift from God, that's the key. It isn't about us at all. Part of the labor necessary to work miracles may be the self-discipline required to direct people away from us and to God. Jesus willingly, "made himself nothing," Philippians 2:7 (NIV). Are we willing to do the same?
How about you? What's your position on miracles? If they're still for today, how should we conduct ourselves when that gift operates in our life? How could a low profile on our part, direct all the attention to God? How would this focus on Him encourage individuals to seek a more intimate relationship with God and not with any other special individual? Are you willing to be a nameless, faceless tool in the hands of God?