Interest in miracles is rising these days. Newsweek journalist Kenneth Woodward's The Book of Miracles (Simon & Schuster) has been well-received by secular reviewers, and polls tell us that 90 percent of Americans believe in miracles.

Since our early Sunday-school days, we in the church have been told stories about seas parting, donkeys talking, and water turned to the finest wine.

Even today, as Woodward and others note, some happenings defy logic. Terminal diseases mysteriously disappear with no explanation—except that an entire church had been praying really hard. A customs agent in a country hostile to Christians "forgets" to check that suitcase full of Bibles.

But are miracles tossed down directly from heaven really all that great? Maybe miracles aren't all they're cracked up to be—or all we've cracked them up to be.

No magic show
Even Jesus, the Miracle Man himself, occasionally seemed less than enthusiastic about miracles.

"A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign," he once told a bunch of misguided miracle-seekers.

True, miracles dazzle humanity like Fourth of July fireworks. Both the devout and the skeptic might ooh and aah at the exploding spectacle before them. But then when the glorious miracle fades, the crowd invariably grows restless.

"More! More! More!"

"Many saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name," John says in his Gospel. "But Jesus would not trust himself to them, for he knew all men" (John 2:23, 24).

Jesus knew people. He knew their hearts. He knew their desires. He also knew the minute he pulled the plug on the miraculous, they'd be ready to skip off to the First Church of Signs and Wonders.

Amid the miracles, God is easily reduced to a magician for an audience seeking ...

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