Don’t Overlook the Miracles
Here’s the truth …
“the curtain in the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened” (Matthew 27:51-52a NLT).
Jen Hatmaker, in her book For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards, says of her twenty-year marriage: “Sure, I planned on being a Darling Lamb Wife, but I accidentally got a fiery personality and forgot to be darling. Plus, I married a man with strong opinions about every solitary thing in the entire universe, past and present. Gentle is not an adjective ever wasted on us. We learned our lessons in the trenches of compromise” (2015, p. 78).
She is talking about how impossible it seems to join two opposites together and expect a perfect blend of oneness. My husband, too, has opinions that simply take me by surprise. I should have prepared myself for them, though, when we were engaged and at the flower shop, planning the wedding with the florist. We were talking about the daisy bouquets my bridesmaids should carry, and I asked aloud, “Do you think there should be pearls in the centers of the daisies or not?” People, I was musing aloud. But he, a man who was not supposed to care about such things, HAD.AN.OPINION; and, as you may have guessed, it was entirely the wrong one.
As Hatmaker suggested, it is a huge miracle to put two differently-opinionated people together and call it one flesh. But that is exactly what marriage is. And the bigger miracle happens when you start to have the same opinions more and more as the years go by, really embodying the one-flesh thinking that shocks you when you see it happen before your very eyes!
I think we overlook those kind of day-to-day, years-in-the-making miracles in favor of people walking out of a totaled car unscathed or being pronounced dead on the operating table only to come back to life. A dead bush in my front yard that has not a stitch of life on it in the winter, however, sprouts the most beautiful burgundy leaves in autumn, which can only be described as an utter miracle. My cat—with a brain of only five centimeters—having a complete understanding of words like “hungry” and “outside” is nothing to ignore. My child having mastered the potty ten years ago is still cause for celebration, considering the act of God it took to make that happen!
Why is it so easy, though, to overlook amazing occurrences? Should we blame the internet for sensationalizing everything so that a sprouting flower seems paltry by comparison on the miracle scale? Or are we a people of action, needing to see things happening before our eyes, not over time in a gradual transformation?
Maybe because it took three whole days before Christ emerged from the tomb that the miracle of His Resurrection was lost on the people of His day; the action-oriented people who were milling around when He was crucified must have expected a quicker turnaround. Maybe they would have believed that He really was the Son of God if He had opened His eyes, developed wings, and flew off the cross within seconds of uttering “It is finished” (John 19:30 NLT) and surrendering His spirit to death. There were many miracles, though, that happened at the time of Jesus’s death that should not at all have been lost on the onlookers.
First of all, upon reading the account in all four Gospels, I learned that there were several fulfillments of prophecy that people steeped in the Scriptures at the time should have recognized. John even tells us that Jesus said, “I am thirsty,” (John 19:28 NLT) to fulfill Scripture (Psalm 69:3, 21, Psalm 22:15). In fact, many signs of Jesus’s death on a cross were mentioned in Psalm 22 by King David who would not have even lived in a time when crucifixions took place: people mocking Him (v. 7), people shouting for Him to save Himself (v. 8), His pierced side pouring out water (v. 14), the piercing of His hands and feet (v. 16), the dividing of His garments (v. 18), and the throwing of dice for His clothing (v. 18). The people should have remembered those references. They, instead, tried to use Jesus’s own words against Him: “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days” (Matthew 27:40). If they had given it time, they would have easily seen the fulfillment of that prophecy, too. Sigh.
Secondly, I learned that at the moment Jesus released His spirit, “the curtain in the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened” (Matthew 27:51-52a NLT). Also, even though it was noon, “darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone” (Luke 23:44b-45a NLT). Maybe when politicians speak at churches, lightning strikes (just kidding), but I cannot imagine times when Mother Nature has responded to something unnatural like that the way she responded when Jesus died so unfairly. If I were around to have witnessed rocks splitting and darkness at noon, I think I would have noticed.
Also, the opening of the tombs caused dead bodies to become “raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’s resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:52b-53 NLT). Say what now? If my former neighbor or relative came up to me at the market when I knowingly had buried him/her years earlier, I think I would have asked questions as to what brought him/her to town? To say that the people of the day overlooked some miracles is putting it very lightly!
Lastly, I learned that despite those miracles, the Bible only mentions two people who decided to believe in Jesus as the Son of God at the time of His death. One was the thief on the cross who was crucified next to Jesus. He scolded the third man being crucified: “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong” (Luke 23:40 NLT). He then asked Jesus to remember him in His Kingdom, and Jesus said to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NLT). His belief that Jesus really was a King saved him.
The other believer was a Centurion who witnessed what happened with the splitting veil in the temple at the time Jesus shut His eyes: “When the Roman officer who stood facing Him saw how He had died, he exclaimed, ‘This man truly was the Son of God’” (Mark 15:39 NLT). He made the connection between Jesus’s death and the astounding events around him. Unfortunately, just as we take for granted the miracles surrounding us, others did not make those connections.
This Easter Weekend, ponder what Jesus did for you so that you could have eternal life with Him. He separated Himself from God to take on sin and death so that we wouldn’t have to deal with either. Instead, our sins are forgotten and we get to go straight to be with our bridegroom Jesus when we die. Although we certainly can overlook miracles that are all around us, we should never forget our marriage to Christ—the only miracle that really matters!
… and that’s the truth as I know it!