When we read about the miracle stories in the Bible, there is this expectation of a happily ever after kind of moment. If we believe in our God who is working within all of creation and did this specifically through the time when Jesus walked the earth, we take these passages at face value. God can and does work in His world. But the limitation that we run into is that we have a very narrow slice of the picture that happens with these individuals that experienced something out of the ordinary. We hear about Lazarus being raised from the dead, or the woman with the bleeding disorder being healed or today the man who was deaf and suffered from some sort of physical deformity in his mouth that made it difficult for him to speak clearly, each of these people came to a moment of healing in the presence of Jesus… then subconsciously in our minds we think, “they lived happily ever after.” But that was not the case, apart from living in a time and region where now curable illnesses ravaged whole populations, life itself was considered cheap, especially if you were poor, disabled, an orphan or a widow, there was not a happily ever after in their earthly life, illness and death soon followed. Those who spoke of Jesus; including the man who experienced healing in our Gospel reading today were specifically marked for death by the ruling political and religious authorities. So much so, in other readings we are told that after watching Lazarus literally being raised from the dead and walking out of the cave where his corpse had lain for days, the authorities immediately planned on how to best to kill him.
But yet, despite these realities, this man whose tongue had been untied found his voice and kept telling everyone about this man Jesus who has done wonderful things. These early Christians kept speaking about this Jesus and what he had done, even while their own earthly lives were cut short by the scores from persecution. Even when the miraculous occurred life was short, bitter and hard, even more so for those that spoke of Jesus and what He had done for them. But what is so hard to understand is why, why would they keep speaking about Jesus, knowing full well that this miracle that they experienced and the words they said about the one who brought that miracle, would certainly bring to them a swift and painful death? Why would they keep speaking, isn’t it only about receiving the miracle and then running for the hills?
It couldn’t be, could it? Because knowing Jesus and experiencing the love of God, moves us beyond seeing our life in only the short view, a brief time on earth, to the long view life that continues to be lived and experienced in the presence of God.
That was part of what experiencing those physical miracles did for them; the miraculous didn’t mean they would live a supernaturally long, healthy, problem free life on earth. That simply wouldn’t happen even if they took the miracle and ran and never said another word about Jesus. Instead it showed to them in the clearest way possible that God is indeed alive and well, still working within all of creation and there was life with God that would continue beyond this veil of tears, all of it is a reality because of Jesus. It was that eternal hope that gave them their voice, not the miracle so much but hope in Jesus that gave them something worth speaking about, even if they died in the process.
There is so much in our own lives to bring to God and ask for a miracle, so much in our world. All of the pain that we face in life just ties our tongues up in knots and so often we don’t feel like there is anything good worth talking about. But God is still active in this creation, in ways both we can see and ways we can’t. Miracles still happen as well, Christians across the world attest to that, but for us we still have such a hard time believing these things can happen. It goes back to our belief in God, if God is active and alive working within His creation the miraculous can and does occur, but if we think that God is far off or doesn’t exist at all, we are hard pressed when faced with that vast amounts of witnesses who give testimony to the miraculous that occurred in their lives. But by definition, miracles do not happen all of the time, they are not regular occurrences, if they were they wouldn’t be miracles any longer but natural events we expect to happen. Instead nature is allowed to continue to function naturally and the choices we make and that others make or still allowed to effect us in both good and hurtful ways.
But when miracles do occur, both those recorded for us in Scripture and those that happen today, they will not bring about a supernaturally long, healthy or problem free life on earth. Even when the miraculous occurs life is still hard and filled with loss and endings; instead miracles point us to the longer view, to God still active in creation, to hope eternal that doesn’t fail, to active and vibrant life with God after death, to the love of God in Jesus bringing all of creation ultimately and finally to a place of healing. That hope that is found in the love and work of God unties our tongues, it is a hope worth speaking about, a hope worth giving to the ones we love, a hope that yes is even more important than the miracle we are praying for in our own lives. It is from this hope that gives to us the longer view of life with God that strengthens us to live the life we have right here and now with courage and compassion, with a sense of integrity and faithfulness.
Just like the life Jesus was called to live led to the cross, he walked that road with courage and compassion for others, yes it was a life that led to Easter morning and the empty tomb, but the pain of it still had to be lived through each day. In our faith to live a life that gives honor to the life of Jesus, a life lived with courage and compassion even though it takes us through the valley of the shadow of death, knowing that this life in Christ will lead us to Easter morning as well.
Because of the hope you’ve been given in Jesus you have a voice and you have a hope worth sharing and giving to all of the people you love in your life, a hope that will hold on to them through everything life may bring. Amen.