(Mark 16: 14-20, NLT) 14 Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.
15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.
Miracles, signs, and wonders: we hear that phrase a lot within the body of Christ. I have heard it for what seems like my entire life, yet I have to be very frank and admit that I don’t think I’ve seen much in the way of these three phenomena. Please know, I am not saying that these things don’t exist or take place in our world today. I know that mighty things do still happen in the name of Christ, for the glory of God. It’s just that I was reading this passage of scripture and I realized the same thing that I always think when I hear about miraculous signs taking place: I, personally, am not seeing anything like this happen around me.
(These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe…)
Have I ever prayed for a miracle? Yes, I have. Have I longed to see wonders…things that are utterly inexplicable and awesome? I sure have. So what is the missing link? Why is there this void within the church, and in my own spiritual life?
Looking back at this passage, I tried putting myself in that room when Jesus walked in, risen from the dead, a new and glorious form of Himself. I imagined being party to His words of rebuke, and how ashamed the discipled must have felt when they realized that not only were they wrong to doubt Jesus, but also that He knew every faithless thought they’d had and He took it to heart. How disappointed in themselves they must have felt! Yet even after this chastisement, Jesus still saw fit to entrust His disciples with His Great Commission.
If you’ve ever let someone down, and I’m guessing you definitely have, then you know how exciting it is when that person still finds it in his/her heart to trust you. It stirs you to try harder. Being given a second chance is one of the most inspiring things that can happen to us…because we know we can do better, and we are determined not to make that same mistake twice!
Well what does that have to do with miraculous signs?? My point is that the disciples were chastised, then commissioned. They were excited! Jesus ascended to Heaven, and they went about God’s business. They weren’t distracted by their lives and the petty successes of the world. They didn’t stop to think and consider every single thing. They moved and acted by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and never once did God disappoint.
I have always believed that miracles happen for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission, as confirmation of God’s word. I think sometimes we get distracted and start to think it’s all about us and the betterment of our physical lives. We want healing because we don’t want to suffer or to see our loved ones suffer. But doesn’t the Bible tell us, “In the world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33)? We want to see signs and wonders because we are so accustomed to being entertained and “wowed” by our environments, that when we are not being entertained within our spiritual lives it seems almost lackluster to us. You may not like to read that, but it’s the truth.
We have it all wrong…and most all of us are guilty. WE are the missing links. It is our own selfishness that is keeping us from seeing the manifest power and Glory of God in our lives. We have lost our excitement about doing our jobs!
Friends, it is time to reconstruct our priorities, time to reevaluate our spirits, and time to recommit our lives to His purpose and plan. There is no better time. This world is not going to get better. Time is running out. We desperately need miraculous signs to begin to take place in our circles of influence, but we have to shed the selfishness or it just won’t happen. Or…we can just continue on as is…doing the things we always do…going through the systems and motions of our lives…
Personally, I’m sick of that.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we have all been given second chances, by and through Your loving kindness and Your grace. Help us restore the excitement of being forgiven and trusted! Help us cast down every crown and every selfish motivation at Your feet, so that the world can once again see Your power and glory, bringing the lost into Your arms. Amen.