“Concerning his son Jesus Christ our lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” — Romans 1:3-4
Sports “miracles” are often couched in religious terms, such as the last second desperation “Hail Mary” pass that gave the Dallas Cowboys a victory, the “Immaculate Reception” deflected pass caught by the Pittsburg Steelers’ Franco Harris and ran into the end zone for the winning touchdown, and the “Holy Roller” when the Oakland Raiders “fumbled” forward three times and recovered the ball in the end zone for the winning touchdown. (The rules changed after this play.)
While these amazing plays were wildly entertaining and decisive, they fall short of truly being miracles. Christian writer Ron Rhodes defines a miracle as “a unique and extraordinary event awakening wonder wrought by divine power accomplishing some practical and benevolent work and authenticating or signifying a messenger and his message as from God.”
Several Greek words in the New Testament are used to describe miracles: 1) Semeion — a sign, a miracle with an ethical end and purpose. It is often used of the Apostle’s miracles; 2) Terata — terrifying works and wonders, startling, imposing, amazing works; frequently used for strange appearances in the heavens, such as Angels, who usually start by saying “Fear Not.” 3) Paradoxos — strange works beyond opinion or expectation, a miracle not seen before, such as in Mark 2:12 where Jesus healed a paralytic;
4) Dunamis — mighty works, as in Luke 1:51 “He has done mighty deeds with His powerful arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.”;
5) Megaleia — great works that speak of the greatness of God’s power and glory. Luke 1:49, Acts 2:11;
6) Endoxa — glorious works, as in Luke 2:9 “The glory of the Lord shone round about them” and
7) Thaumasia — admirable works, wonderful works provoking admiration and astonishment, as in Matthew 8:26-27 where Jesus calmed the storm to show he had power over nature.
From creating and sustaining the universe and everything in it, the parting of the Red Sea, and the resurrection of Christ, God’s miracles aren’t parlor tricks. Magicians can only go so far before they have to say, as Pharoah’s magicians did “This is the finger of God!”. (Exodus 8:19)
Nicky Cruz was the President of a notorious New York City street gang known as the “Mau Maus”. Through the witness of a small-town preacher named David Wilkerson who felt God’s call to speak to gang members about Jesus, Cruz became a follower of Jesus and has spent the last 60 years preaching the Christ he once violently rejected.
The story is told in a book and a movie titled “The Cross and the Switchblade”. It was very popular when I was a teenager, and our church youth group went to hear Wilkerson and Cruz speak.
I marveled then, as I do now, at the transformational power of God to change lives dramatically.
John Newton was a slave ship captain who became a follower of Jesus and an ally of abolitionist William Wilberforce. After his conversion, Newton spent the rest of his life preaching and helping the poor. He wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace” about his life journey. His self-written epitaph says he “..was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ preserved, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the faith he had long laboured to destroy.”
The God of the Bible is a God of miracles. Regarding the greatest miracle, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the Apostle Paul writes” For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).
Even Sports Illustrated recognized this miracle in its Nov. 12, 2001, article on the “Ten Greatest Comeback of all time”. Number 1 was “Jesus Christ AD 33. Stuns Romans and defies critics by his resurrection from the grave.”
Now that’s a miracle!
• Guy Crockroft is executive director of Love Inc Juneau. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.”