Chapter 21 "Significant and Wonderful"

Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:15; John 2: 1-12; Mark 1:21-28

McLaren looks at the two “first” miracles as described in the Gospel of John and Mark.  As he looks at these occurrences he asks really good questions. Observing that many today seem to dismiss the idea that these miracles could have occurred, or that perhaps since we do not see some of these happening now, that they give us false hope, McLaren offers a unique thought.  Why not, instead of debating whether or not the stories themselves happened, we might rather allow the story to shake up our normal assumptions and inspire our imaginations? McLaren asks these great questions:

“Dare we believe that we could be set free?  Dare we trust that we could be restored to health?  Dare we have faith that such a miracle could happen to us-- today?”  (99).

Certainly there are all kinds of ways we can discuss the stories of scripture, but what a rich invitation to accept them as they are and seek to find ways that they might challenge us to live, think, act, or breathe into life differently.  As McLaren ends, “Faith still works wonders.” Indeed.

For you to consider:  How do you respond to the literary approach that looks for meaning in the miracle stories (without needing to prove they did or did not happen)? Can you apply it to some other miracle stories?  This would mean to look at a miracle and simply ask questions about what we might learn about the characters in the story by what they said and did and chose, and how those observations might then change or impact us in our lives.  

This is exactly how I approach all the stories of scripture when I lead people in discussion of bible stories both in church and in public.  It is so powerful to watch the Holy Spirit take a story and apply it to the heart and mind of a listener. A friend was doing this in a grocery store one day and walked up to a checker who wasn’t busy and asked if she could tell her a story.  The woman was open, so this friend, Andrea, told her a Bible story and began to engage her in a short time of discussion asking just a couple questions. This checker began to cry as the story found a place in her life, and told Andrea, “I had come to work today but was determined to make it my last day.  I was going to go home and kill myself tonight. But after this story, after this encounter, I have a hope that can only be the gift of this Holy Spirit you spoke of.” The woman met Jesus at her job that day. People are so hungry to hear some good news.

As you engage in the significant and wonderful gospel and experience and tell His story, what plans God has.