The original group of disciples had a problem. They had been witness to many miracles, yet the significance of these events was apparent only to them. The disciples interpreted them as signs of God’s kingdom breaking in, but what good was that to them if Jesus declined to use his miraculous powers to impress the powers who crucified him? If they had expected Jesus to pull out all the miraculous stops once he got to Jerusalem, it’s no wonder they all deserted him.
This could be easily explained if we were to say, “miracles are hogwash,” but the disciples were unable to come to that conclusion. Something occurred that led them to emerge from the crucifixion more committed to their discipleship than ever, despite the apparent absence of their Lord. That “something” is what we call “The Resurrection,” which is churchly shorthand for the experience of Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, and our own experiences of graceful transformation.
As I see it, miracles are great, but they don’t have any more to do with salvation than any other act of kindness or mercy. What matters is that, in Jesus, God has shared our life as an ordinary human being. Well, maybe not THAT ordinary, but certainly not as a glowing, transfigured being who would dazzle everyone in the neighborhood with supernatural light-shows every night.
As I see it, it is essential that the “power” of God remain incognito, that “faith” always be a matter of embracing what’s right here, not pointing to some giant Jesus in the sky and saying, “see, I told you so.” If God’s power were more obvious, so that even unbelievers could see and no longer deny, it would be something less than God that was being seen, because God is not an object to be observed.
What this signifies to me is that we are where we are supposed to be, with Christ and each other on a generous but problematic planet. Our calling is to follow Christ regardless of miracles. The real miracle is that we find ourselves doing exactly that, despite our disabilities. And that, for me, is quite dazzling enough.