The source of Jesus’ power perplexes and vexes. Some claim smoke and mirrors. Some label the Gospels as the fiction of religious fervor. Some back way up and say only the Son of God could do so-and-so. Others say he did what he did because he was a man who had an unusual relationship to God in this life.

There is something to be said for all these schools.

Harry Houdini (who was not an atheist, btw) could pull off stunts that made onlookers gawk in speechless awe, and contestants on “Fool Us” and “America’s Got Talent” do the same every week. Human ingenuity is wondrous to behold.

Hagiography (adulatory, sugar-sweet writing about someone) is not limited to the realm of religion, of course, but the devout do have a tendency to gloss over the less-than-sterling and choke on the all-too-human. That’s why Monty Python, Nikos Kazantzakis and other creators bend over backwards to portray the mundane.

Those who take the New Testament Gospels at all seriously confess to something odd, to put it mildly, about the whole birth-resurrection story. But did he feed the multitudes and heal sick bodies and minds because of who he was or because God helped him? Good luck with that question. A better course: “He is not a problem to be solved by a mystery to be pondered.”

Beyond that, consider that Jesus himself took a dim view of signs and wonders, rarely (if ever) took credit for anything he did, and until his last dying breath (according to Luke) insisted on doing what God wanted instead of what he wanted. “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Could it be that the main thing that gets in our way of seeing more miracles is that we spend so much time with our own plans that we never stop to look around and see what we might be missing?

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.


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