Rosicrucian Writings Online
Bible MiraclesWHAT WERE THEY AND WHY WERE THEY PERFORMED?
By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest January 1931]
The generally accepted definition of a miracle is that it is a Divine intervention in the course of natural events, or at least a supernatural manifestation of some kind not coming within the category of expected and dependable occurrences. It is man who must determine whether a manifestation is the result of a miracle or not, and therefore the term "miracle" has often been misapplied. It is trite to say that many of our natural manifestations today would have been considered miracles in the past. That we could have heard a person speaking over long distance, or along thin wires, or that we could have seen through television what was occurring at a distant point, would undoubtedly have been classified as a miracle by the average mind some centuries ago.
When Nero of Alexandria, long before the Christian period, built a temple with a large wall about it and arranged the gates in this wall so that they would open only when a holy fire was built on an altar outside of the wall, he probably caused all the people to cry, "A miracle!" when the huge gates automatically opened after the holy fire had burned a while. This was but one of the many scientific applications of natural laws which he used to astonish the mass of people. Today, the average young man in high school, familiar with the principles of physics, could understand how the fire opened the gates and would never think of attributing the manifestation to any demonstration of a miracle.
However we may analyze the so-called miracles of the past in the light of modern discoveries and attribute most of them to advanced knowledge beyond the ken of the multitude, there nevertheless were many miracles performed, as described in the Christian Bible, which will forever remain as a demonstration of Divine intervention. Two forms of such miracles come to our mind instantly; instantaneous healing and the raising of the dead.
No matter how we may view the instantaneous healing of those who were lame, or blind, or very sick, and no matter how we may view the raising of the dead, we cannot say that in every instance these manifest powers were the result of the application of natural laws and were not miracles. A few of the marvelous healings may have been the result of the proper application of some principle which we use today and do not look upon as a miracle. But there are other cases which, when analyzed from our present enlightened point of view, cannot be taken out of the classification of miracles. Likewise, we may question the power of observation on the part of those who reported these manifestations, and we may discount the enthusiastic description of them and make all due allowances for self-deception or misunderstanding, but we still have the fact that everyone who witnessed these miracles could not have been deceived at each instance and that all testimony of them is to be discredited or incompetent. That being the case, we must admit that there were healings and, in many instances, the raising of the dead which we cannot duplicate today.
The question then arises as to why these miracles were performed and how. One of the most commonplace expressions among those who suffer or who are sickly or deformed is that Jesus performed miracles and His disciples performed miracles and they claimed that man would be able to do the same thing and even greater things and, therefore, we are lacking in our spiritual attainment or development today or we would be able to perform the miracles which Jesus and His disciples performed.
A careful analysis of all the unusual miracles performed in the past not only in the Christian period but before it and since then, indicates that more than mere desire on the part of the lame, the blind, or the sickly, is necessary in order to have a demonstration of some miraculous intervention on the part of God. Even Jesus Himself seemed to regret that when His time came for persecution and suffering there was no intervention and He had to bear His cross despite His plea for mercy.
Millions today are praying and pleading with God for the performance of a miracle. It is heart-rending sometimes to see with what sincerity and honesty persons appeal to God for the restoration of life to one who has passed to the Beyond suddenly, or for the relief of suffering and pain on the part of those who are victims of physical conditions. It appears that in most cases such pleas and prayers are unanswered despite the fact that on the surface we are inclined to believe there is just as much reason for the performance of a miracle in these cases as in the cases described in the Christian Bible.
This leads us to analyze the nature of these miracles and the reason for them. Why were some selected by Jesus to be raised from the dead or cured of their physical conditions, while others were allowed to suffer and remain unchanged? As we read the Bible records we see that Jesus cured and helped only a fraction of those who were suffering during His lifetime and in His own country, and since the passing of Jesus from this earth there have been millions who have appealed to God to be helped in the same way as Jesus helped others in His lifetime. Why were those mentioned in the Christian Bible more worthy of Divine intervention than those of today?
It is well enough for us to ask these questions from our modern point of view. We ask such questions only because our limited finite knowledge does not enable us to see everything as God sees it and who understands everything from the Divine point of view. As we read the story of how Jesus stopped before the gates of a city and raised a dead man from his sleep of death to an awakened consciousness of life, we search in vain for any explanation as to why this particular man was selected for the demonstration of a miracle, and why the evident working of the laws of nature were set aside. From our human point of view we cannot think that there was any difference between this man who was being carried to his grave and who was brought back to life and the millions of men and women who pass out of life unexpectedly today and whose passing brings great sorrow, grief, suffering, and anguish into the lives of many others. We are apt to think that if a humble character of the everyday position in life was brought back from death by Jesus in His time, certainly a great man like a president of a nation or the head of a great church should be saved in the same manner and brought back to life after transition had occurred.
We seem to forget, however, that because neither the disciples nor Jesus Himself tells us why the miracle was performed in some cases, there may have been a good reason which we do not comprehend. The man who was raised from the dead may have been commonplace from our point of view and even from the point of view of his associates. He may have appeared to be a mere man like unto thousands of others in his community. We may think that it was purely coincidence that brought Jesus near him at the time of the funeral. On the other hand, we must not forget that from the mystical point of view, he who has benefited from such a miracle must have deserved it, or some great law of God was being demonstrated by the performance of a miracle. How are we to be able to decide whether the miracle was justified or not? What do we know of the man's real past or what he deserved in a previous incarnation or even in the life just preceding transition and from which he was brought back to life again?
Jesus was teaching and demonstrating and representing God in the awakening of a new faith and a new hope in the mind of the masses and it was necessary for Him to select certain persons to be the recipients of Divine intervention in order that He might prove the existence of God and the power of God. Therefore, certain miracles had to be performed and certain persons had to be chosen to be the recipients of these miraculous benefits. By what process these persons were selected we do not know, but we may rest assured that each of these persons thus helped were worthy of such help or they would not have received it.
Can we look into our own life and determine whether we have earned or deserved in the past any intervention on the part of God, or any special attention because of our attitude and our way of living?
Miracles of one kind or another are being performed by God for our benefit constantly. We may never know how many serious situations have been swept from our path or from our life by Divine intervention. It may be a great miracle that anyone of us is living today in the face of conditions that have existed. Many a young man who has returned from the great World War safe and sound may be a living demonstration of a miracle performed by God. He may attribute his fortunate position in life today to chance or luck, and he may even deny the existence of miracles and be seeking for a sign or symbol that such things are possible. The only way in which we can be sure that a miracle will ever be performed for us when needed is to so live and conduct ourselves that we have earned and are worthy of such Divine intervention when it is necessary. We must not judge by what has occurred in the past in our lives nor by our failure to secure certain results through prayer and plea at the present time. We may be asking for what we do not deserve and yet blaming the absence of miracles for our handicaps and our suffering.
It is most certainly true that a miracle can come into life only when nothing else will serve so well and when there is some great purpose to be gained other than a purely selfish benefit to our present worldly existence.
We find, therefore, that miracles are not the strange and mysterious things they are pictured to be but the logical operations of God's mercy and love. To question them or even to attempt to analyze them is to attempt to reach beyond the finite understanding and into the infinite, and while we may find joy in doing this, man should never forget that he is trying to put his mind in attunement with the Divine mind so completely that it can and will understand God's mind in all of its ramifications.
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