I want to suggest three components that make up a template for a miraculous lifestyle which, though revealed in these two stories, typify what Jesus imparted to His disciples, and what the Holy Spirit desires to impart to us today. These components are: close proximity to Jesus, hearing a word or command from Jesus, and obedience to that word or command. Let’s look at each component in turn.
The disciples, first of all, were in close proximity to Jesus. He had invited them to follow Him, to be with Him, and to accept the yoke of friendship and discipleship that He offered them. I’m reminded of an encounter that my wife Marie had with Jesus in a night vision some years ago. In the vision, she was with Jesus, and He spoke these words to her: “Stay close to Me, and I will give you the desires of your heart.”
What Jesus wants from us is not first of all some religious performance. Rather, He desires close relationship, friendship with Him through the Holy Spirit. This simply means spending time with Him, listening to His voice, receiving the strength that comes through His words of life. Two of the individuals in the New Testament who model this place of intimate friendship for us are John the Baptist and Mary of Bethany.
John’s statement in John 3:29 is powerful: “The friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly at the Bridegroom’s voice.” Mary has a similar style – in Luke 10:39 we find her sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His teaching. Being in close proximity, standing and listening, focusing our attention on what Jesus is saying is essential in developing a miraculous lifestyle.
The second essential component is to hear when Jesus speaks a word of command or permission. His own testimony was that He lived in constant response to the Father’s voice, saying and doing only that which the Father was saying and doing. In Mark 8 and Matthew 14, Jesus first tells the disciples to feed the hungry multitude, and then, in response to Peter’s request, tells Peter to come out of the boat and walk on the water! The miraculous deeds that follow are in response to the directive and permissive words spoken by Jesus.
We’re told in Psalm 45 that grace is poured out on the lips of the King. Part of the reality of grace is the enabling power to do what He says to do. When we have a word from Jesus, faith arises in our hearts (Romans 10:17), and the power and authority to do what He says is included in the word that He speaks. If we don’t have a word of command or of permission, the miracle is not likely to happen.
The third essential component is obedience. There is an essential connection in the New Testament between hearing and obeying. Faith, which comes by hearing, is only alive and powerful when accompanied by obedience. Otherwise, it’s just a dead thing that affects nothing.
So, the conclusion is simple: if we want to live a lifestyle characterized by the miraculous, these three components must be in place – close proximity (intimate friendship) with Jesus by the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice and discerning the command or the permission to act, and then actually obeying in the moment. When His word comes, the power is there – we just need to get out of the boat and do what He says.
I want to live like that! I’ll wager that you do to – so, go for it!
Blessings, Gary Wiens