Miracles is the fourth article in the series, The Life of Christ. To read the whole series click here.

Yancey writes about the “miracle of restraint” in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew. Yancey believes Jesus showed a lot of restraint when he was on earth as he could have performed many more miracles and impressed many more people. He writes, “I believe that God insists on such restraint because no pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence will achieve the response he desires. Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason he created us.”[i]

Years ago, I watched the TV show, I Dream of Jeannie. Larry Hagman played the part of astronaut, Major Nelson who found a genie that could grant wishes with the blink of an eye. Nelson could have wished for material possessions, riches, or fame, whatever he wanted to make his life comfortable yet he chose not to. Whereas his friend, Major Healey made the most of any opportunity he had to ask Jeannie for a wish. By the time the series ended, Nelson and Jeannie had fallen in love and married but she knew Nelson loved her for who she was, not what she could do for him.

Jesus could be a magic genie to us. He has the power to grant any of our wishes even to the extent of riches and fame. God did so for Solomon. However, Jesus wants us to love him for himself not what he can do for us.

A God who makes our lives comfortable and easy may have many followers but would we love him for who he is? Would we take the time to develop a relationship with him? Our free will is very important to God, so God touches our lives lightly, wooing us but never overwhelming us with his power – never manipulating or domineering us, never using coercion or bribery. It’s not only easy for non-Christians to ignore and reject Jesus, but it’s also easy for Christians to ignore Jesus’ invitation for a closer walk with him.

God continues to look for and be delighted by those who freely, not dutifully, choose to love him and be loved by him. In the story of the Prodigal Son, Jesus gave us a picture of God seeking his wayward son. God is like the undignified father who leaves his hardworking son in the field while he searches down the road for his worthless spendthrift son so he can throw a party for him. (Luke 15:11-32). Isn’t this the way we want to be loved?

Appreciated for what we do, but loved for who we are.

[i] Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 78


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