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Subject: ‘Miracle’

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Jesus heals a leper – a miracle

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Wednesday, 18 May 2011

In the Gospel of Matthew the evangelist records a whole series of miraculous healings, and the least remarked upon is often the briefest in mention, that of the solitary leper who approaches Jesus when He comes down from the mountainside with His disciples, followed by great crowds.

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Jesus heals the solitary leper, by Clive Uptton

The leper simply approaches, kneels and worships Him, asking “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”; Jesus replies simply, “I will; be thou clean”, and asks him to tell no-one but to go to show himself to the priest and make an offering of thanksgiving in the temple. It is a snapshot of utter faith on the part of the afflicted which is rewarded by the unquestioning and healing touch of the Lord.

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The healing of Bartimaeus – a miracle

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Monday, 16 May 2011

Bartimaeus is one of the very few named people in the Bible to be cured by a miracle performed by Jesus.

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Bartimaeus is brought to Christ, by Harold Copping

He is, as his name tells us, the son of Timaeus, and is in the area of Jericho, a city through which Jesus and the disciples pass on their way to Jerusalem not long before the Passion.  Jesus has already healed  a blind man, and this incident may well have happened because Bartimaeus had already heard of the previous miracles and especially the one concerning the man cured of blindness. So as they and a large crowd pass by , the blind Bartomaeus, who is begging by the roadside, calls out to the Lord for mercy. He is told to be quiet, and everyone tries to ignore his calls, but Jesus asks them to bring him over to Him. When asked what he wants, Bartomaeus replies that he wants to see Jesus, whereupon he is cured of his blindness by his faith, as Jesus tells him.

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The Canaanite woman – a miracle

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Sunday, 15 May 2011

After feeding the five thousand Jesus and His disciples travel towards Galilee and pass through the region of Tyre and Sidon, where Jesus encounters the Canaanite woman.

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The Canaanite woman appeals to Christ, by Harold Copping

She is greatly distressed and calls out to Him for help, appealing for mercy and telling Him that her daughter “is greatly vexed with the Devil”. The disciples urge Him to send her away since she continues to call after them, but Jesus reminds them that He is “sent to help the lost sheep of Israel”, and after hearing her plea for help, praises her for her great faith and grants her wish, “and her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Matthew 15: 28).

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The Brazen Serpent – a miracle

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Friday, 13 May 2011

When Moses leads the Israelites out of Captivity they travel from Mount Hor past the Red Sea towards Edom, and in this wilderness the people do little but curse Moses and complain of their ordeal, regretting their great escape from slavery and wishing to return to Egypt.

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The Brazen Serpent cures those poisoned by snakebites, by Harold Copping

So as usual God has to chasten them with a suitable punishment, and sends snakes into the barren land to torment His hungry and thirsty people. Many are fatally bitten, and panic and remorse spread throughout their encampments, so that eventually they are compelled to go to Moses and ask him to pray to God for an end to their ordeal. Moses does just that, and God tells him to

make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. (Numbers 21:8 )

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The Ten Lepers – a miracle

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Thursday, 12 May 2011

Jesus and His disciples are passing by a small village near Jerusalem when they see a group of lepers, set apart from the villagers by law, to prevent the spread of that terrible disease.

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Jesus commends the tenth leper, by Clive Uptton

They cannot approach Him so call out for attention “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us”. Jesus goes over to the men and simply tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. They take this to mean that they have been cured, since they will need the priests’ approval before rejoining their community. So as they run to do this, when they see their skin is made whole and new again, they are all overjoyed. The priests can find no blemish and all the men return to their own people, all but one that is. The tenth leper is a Samaritan, despised by the Jews, and he returns to Jesus in order to thank Him. Christ observes that they were ten and asks where the other nine are, but no-one knows; He then turns to this one man, telling him that it is his faith that has cured him.

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The Widow’s Son – a miracle

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Friday, 1 April 2011

Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Naim in Galilee and as they reach the city gate they see a procession which, it soon becomes apparent, is a solemn funeral progress. A young boy has died and his litter is being borne out of the city for his burial.

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The widow’s son rises from his funeral litter, by Clive Uptton

Many mourners follow the body, and chief among them his grief-stricken mother. She is a widow, and therefore doubly sad that her only son has died and she is now utterly alone in the world. Widows were soon marginalised in the society of that time. Jesus perceives all this, and when the litter passes reaches up and touches the dead body of the young boy, and to everyone’s shock speaks to him thus: “I say unto you arise.” This perhaps unseemly and even tasteless interruption to the sad ceremony confuses the onlookers, but they are even more astonished when to their amazement the boy sits up and begins to talk to Jesus, who helps him down from the funeral litter and takes him to his mother. She is overwhelmed with joy at this miraculous event and all the crowd gives praise to God. They realise that a great prophet has come among them, and news quickly spreads of this wonderful miracle.

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Saint Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans

Posted in Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, Legend, Miracle, Religion, Saints, War on Wednesday, 30 March 2011

To describe Joan of Arc as a national heroine in France is something of an understatement. Indeed, almost any account of this remarkable young woman’s life seems superfluous, so lodged is she in the popular imagination of people right across the world.

Saint Joan, picture, image, illustration

Saint Joan, by James E McConnell

Born to peasant farmers in Domremy in Eastern France, she would come to dominate the entire European political landscape within a handful of years, and all because she was sent revelatory visions by God which instructed her to save France from the English and restore its nationhood and independence. It was this mission and her overriding love for her homeland which determined the course of her destiny, and led to her victories in the Hundred Years War which prepared the way for the coronation of Charles VII at Reims, thus solving the self-destructive question of the French succession. She was captured by the Burgundians, and Charles VII could by rights have ransomed her, but for various lamentable and despicable reasons he did not. Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, equally despicable, sold her to the English, and for political reasons she was famously tried for heresy in Rouen, pronounced guilty and burnt at the stake on 30th May, 1431 at the age of only nineteen. She was only canonised as recently as 1920. Her life and martyrdom have inspired many great artists, composers, writers, poets and cinematographers, but among their brilliant operas, plays and canvases it is perhaps Carl Dreyer’s silent film classic, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), which best captures the visionary beauty of Joan’s translation from headstrong young girl and heroic warrior to transcendent saintly martyr.

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St Paul and the snake

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Missionaries, Religion, Saints on Monday, 28 March 2011

When Paul is shipwrecked on Melita, or Malta as we now call it, he is made welcome by the local people, and later that evening a group of them are sitting around the fire built to keep the survivors warm. Paul picks up a bunch of twigs to burn, and as he throws them on the fire a snake slithers out from the bundle and coiling round his arm bites him very badly.

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St Paul is bitten by a snake, by Clive Uptton

The islanders are rather superstitious and take this as a sign that he is a murderer being punished for his sins; he is fully expected to die, but everyone is amazed to see that his arm is not even swollen where the fangs went in, and before long it becomes quite apparent that Paul has survived the venomous attack. News spreads of this seemingly miraculous event, and Paul is made welcome and stays for a few weeks with the island’s “chief man” or governor, Publius, whose father is suffering from dysentry and fever. St Paul’s reputation is further enhanced when he cures this old man, and after healing several other islanders, he and his guard at last set sail again for Rome and his impending trial. Publius later converts the entire island to Christianity, the first albeit small Christian nation in the world, and is venerated on that island of saints and churches as St Publius, first Bishop of Malta.

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The Blind Man at the pool of Siloam – a miracle

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Saturday, 26 March 2011

Jesus and the the disciples are on their way to the Temple on the Sabbath, and notice a blind man as they pass. One of the disciples asks Jesus what sins the man has committed that he should have been struck with blindness, and Jesus answers with a tremendously uplifting metaphor about darkness and Christ being “the light of the world”, in which the man’s present darkness will enable God to reveal a “wonderful work in him”, meaning the miracle which then takes place.

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The blind man washes his eyes in the pool at Siloam, by Harold Copping

Jesus spits on the ground, mixes the sand and spittle and smears the paste across the eyes of the blind man, whom He then bids to “go down to the pool of Siloam and wash” – which he does. It is then that his sight is restored. Onlookers are amazed, but many disbelieve his account of the stranger and His miracle. Eventually he is reviled, even though he now appears whole and unblemished by physical disability and therefore sin, which the Jews believed to be intertwined. The Pharisees cast him out of the church, and he is confused and wretched until he meets Jesus once again. Jesus explains to him the purpose of His mission, metaphorically being to bring sight to those who cannot see, that they should believe in the Son of Man; for those who would remain blind, let them remain so. This rebuke some of the Pharisees know refers to them, and the controversy surrounding Jesus continues to grow with such miracles as this.

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The Shunammite Woman

Posted in Bible, Miracle, Religion on Thursday, 24 March 2011

The story of the Shunammite woman is about the rewards of natural and unsolicited kindness to strangers. In a fertile part of Northern Israel the prophet Elisha often passes by the Shunammite woman’s house when on his travels, and after an initial act of hospitality she takes to asking him in for bread and a rest from his journey.

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The Shunammite woman is shown her dead son, by Harold Copping

She even asks her husband to prepare a part of the house as a small chamber with bed, table and chair and candlestick and so forth, so that he may feel at home. She realises that he is a holy man and wishes to acknowledge the fact in some small but helpful way. Elisha asks what she most desires, if anything, clearly wondering how he can repay her. She is quite wealthy, so not at all needy, and declares she is content. Still, they do not have a child, and it is this which Elisha perceives will bring her fulfilment, happy though she is. So at last a son is born and the family is complete. But one day the young boy goes out into the fields, feels a sharp pain in his head, and dies not long afterwards. Without telling him this terrible news, the Shunammite woman asks her husband to let her go out with a servant and a donkey. He unquestioningly agrees. She is determined to seek out the holy man and traveller who brought them such joy, and after saddling up the ass, makes great haste to Mount Carmel. When she tells Elisha what has happened, he sends his servant Gehazi ahead to heal the boy, but Gehazi is impotent and faithless. So Elisha returns to the house with her, to the small room where he so often rested and where the boy now lies; and after laying his own eyes and mouth and body across those of the Shunammite woman’s dead son, is able to bring him back to life in a momentous miracle.

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