St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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Weekly Message 02-07-10: Many Believed

Many Believed

Many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did
John 2: 21.

Natures groans and suffers as a result of the fall of humanity, as St. Paul observes, "Yes, we know that all creation groans and is in agony even until now. Not only that, but we ourselves, although we have the spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies" Romans 8: 22, 23. Nature nevertheless remains obedient to the Master's voice. Creation may be marred by sin, but it is not deaf to the Creator. Nature's awesome power instantly yields to the instruction of Jesus. People give mixed reaction to the words of the Lord, but winds and waves and water obey. People cling to old wineskins while water gleefully becomes wine. Dried fish and crusty loaves multiply in a small cascade of food enough to fill a multitude. Fish find their way to the other side of a boat and waiting nets.

The power of our Lord over nature carries a quiet, sure demeanor. His acts are deft. It is not his command or prayer that got the attention of people, it is what happens after He speaks. As we meditate briefly on the ongoing role of Jesus as Creator, visualize in your mind, in your heart and of course, in your soul, the effects of his heavenly authority in your life. Listen carefully for his voice and how He speaks to you.

"The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free..." Luke 4: 18. The signs and miracles confirmed what Jesus taught earlier in the synagogue in Nazareth, when He claimed to fulfill the prophecy of the One, who as the Lord's anointed, would bring "good news to the poor," would bring God's salvation, would bring the answer to the judgment that was facing those who rebelled against God. The evidence of this would be the mighty miracles they would witness performed. So the miracles were not only intended to accomplish wonderful things, although they did that; they were also intended to establish the identity of Jesus and ultimately give credibility to the good news He came to proclaim.

So believers, then, come to understand the role of miracles with Jesus. They were more than ample proof of the existence in his Person or the force beyond nature that could and would act within it. This is good news! This is powerful news! This is hopeful news for all who follow the Saviour. His signs reveal uniquely him as the Power who could reverse the very forces of death and destruction that plague the world. What astoundingly good news our Lord delivers with each sign and miracle, even if it does not directly involve us!

The enemy which Jesus confronted and challenged in his public life among us was not the Roman oppressor, but the spiritual power of darkness, the dominion of satan. "If I by the finger of God cast out demons," he said, "then the kingdom of God has come upon you" Luke 11: 20. The proclamation of the advent of the divine kingdom stirred up especially hostile activity in the realm of evil, which felt its dominion threatened. The superior power of the kingdom of God is seen in the release of those whose minds and bodies are held in spiritual bondage: Jesus not only proclaimed but effected liberty to the captive and release to the enchained" Isaiah 61: 1. In doing so He knew himself to be the agent of the Father in our midst who desired the well-being, not the suffering of his created children.

At that time the air in the synagogue was hot and tight and heavy. Hearing the words, " proclaim the year of the Lord's favor..." Luke 4: 19, formally announced by the town's citizen was somewhat astounding, but somewhat less enchanting. The attendant handed Jesus the scroll of Isaiah. He quietly unrolled it, found the verses He was looking for, and began to speak with the voice of uncommon authority. He stops in the middle of the verse. Just like that, Jesus left it unfinished and sat down. The eyes of everyone were fastened on him. Little wonder, they had never heard the prophecy of Isaiah read in exactly such a way, like the words were his own. Finally, Jesus breaks the silence, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

So from the very beginning, our Lord makes it clear his agenda, his purpose, his vocation is not to execute the wrath of God, but to bear in his own body the same wrath, to bear within himself our sinfulness, our transgressions, our guilt. His makes his own the fury of the Father over our separation and unbelief.

All of the justified anger of the Father, all the white hot anger against our sinfulness is poured out on the cross. Because of Jesus, the Eternal Father has no anger left for each of us if we but repent, remain penitential and respond to his love genuinely.

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