Summary: What does a miracle tell us? That we are children of God!
A mother had taken her young toddler son to Acapulco. She and her son were having a great time playing on the beach, kicking around the sand, and just have a fun time exploring. The little boy was just poking around when we saw a quarter. As toddlers are wont to do, he went to the shiny object, picked up, and put it in his mouth, whereupon he promptly tried to swallow it. Now, you know that a quarter just won’t fit down an 18-month-old’s throat. So, of course, he began to choke. She, of course, began to panic. “Help me! Please somebody! Help my little boy,” she cried.
Just then, an American came over. He grabbed the little boy by the chest, wrapped his arms around him, and gave a quick thrust inwards. Out popped the quarter. Obviously she was grateful and relived. She thanked the man profusely, and then said, “It’s a miracle! God be praised. Wouldn’t you know he placed a doctor here just now so my little boy would be saved?”
“Oh, I’m not a doctor, ma’am,” he said. “I’m from the IRS. Getting people to cough up money is just what I do!”
In the gospel we just read, Peter had his own little run in with the IRS of his day. There was a tax, and he needed to pay. But Jesus used this very every-day occasion to make a point about who he was, and as a result, who we are. It’s a miracle, albeit one that you don’t tend to hear about much in Sunday School. But the story tells us something about miracles – both the ones we tend to think of, and a greater miracle that I think we too often take for granted. I want to look at this story and point out a few things that tend to get lost.
Basically, I want to look at three things:
1. What a miracle isn’t
2. What a miracle is
3. What the miracle of our adoption means.
Let’s start by looking at this text, and seeing some things about this miracle that stand out, I think, by their absence.
What a miracle isn’t
- It isn’t a fairy tale
First of all, miracles are not fairy tales. I know this here, because frankly, if this were a fairy tale, it could be a lot better. First of all, it wouldn’t be such a small amount. Second, you would have actually seen the miracle occur. And finally, at the end of the story, everyone would be living happily ever after.
Well, I can tell you, that at least for Peter, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Peter, you see, saw this as evidence that Jesus – a real man that he knew – was in fact God. He was so convinced of this fact, that he willingly spent half his life in and out of prison, being chased from town to town, just so he could proclaim Christ. He returned to Rome to be crucified on a cross, upside-down. He certainly didn’t think this was a fairy tale. He was convinced.
So often, it is too easy to dismiss the miraculous things that happen in the Bible as mere stories for children. After all, fish don’t go around with coins in their gullets, dead men don’t live again. Or, if you really want to get to the heart of the matter, the most miraculous miracle of all – A powerful, omnipotent God doesn’t concern himself with mere mortals. After all, we’ve all seen the movies – he’s way too busy to worry about people like me. Right?
Well, if that’s so, I have to ask you a simple question. What are you doing here anyway? I assume you come to worship the living Christ. We all believe the miracle that he died and rose again. We believe an even greater miracle – that he condescended to become a simple man. If all this is mere “fairy tale,” then Paul is right. If there be no resurrection, than we are to be most pitied among men. The Gospel is truth. The Gospel states that Jesus:
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,