When my children were little, it was always entertaining when they wanted to show me how high they could jump. As toddlers, they would each bend down and swing their arms super high and grunt even – but then never got off the ground. Until I observed this hilarious attempt at jumping, I didn’t realize how long it took a little human to develop the muscles and coordination to actually jump up and down!
When you think about the entire process of learning to jump, it takes quite a long time. The first year of life is spent crawling around on the floor until the baby is brave enough to pull himself upright on his feet. But the baby still needs to strengthen his core and leg muscles and gain the balance and coordination to take those first few wobbly steps. It still takes several more months before the child is able to truly run around, and even longer before they have the courage and ability to lift themselves off the ground when they jump. All in all, it is nearly three years before a child can actually jump off of the ground.
In light of that, the miracle in Acts 3 becomes that much more amazing. For context, this takes place after Jesus had died, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. Peter and John are heading into the temple to pray when they pass by a beggar sitting at the gate, a man who has been lame since birth.
Peter then looks at the man and says, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And through the power of Jesus, this man – who has never walked, never stood up, never toddled along with tentative steps, never jumped off the ground – immediately began walking and leaping and praising God in the temple.
Notice two things about this miracle. It was instantaneous, and it was complete. The man was not helped to his feet and offered crutches and then sent to a physical therapist. He didn’t need assistance in taking his first few wobbly steps until his muscles gained strength. He didn’t just wave his arms around in an attempt to jump.
It says “immediately” his bones received strength and he was leaping. This was a man who had no prior experience in even standing or walking, much less leaping. Yet his body was so completely and instantaneously healed that he could do all of those things, immediately. He could instantly jump off the ground in his excitement to praise God for what He had done.
What nature takes a long time to do, the power of Jesus can do instantly.
The same thing is seen in Mark 2 when Jesus healed the paralytic. In this situation, four people bring their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. But the crowds were so packed they weren’t able to get to Him. So they climbed up onto the roof, cut a hole in it, and lowered their friend down through the ceiling.
Jesus’ first response is to tell the man that his sins are forgiven. To us, that seems like an odd thing to say when someone is lowered through the roof on a mat in front of you. However, Jesus knows this man’s real need is not the ability to walk; it’s the forgiveness of his sin.
Interestingly, this is one of the many statements Jesus made to claim that He is God. If Jesus were not God, what sin could He possibly forgive of this man? He had never seen this man before. As a human, we can only forgive the sins that have been committed against us, not against someone else. So if Jesus were not God, there would be no sins for Him to forgive. If Jesus IS God though, He is able to forgive this man of all of his sins – because as God, Jesus is the One offended in every sin we commit.
Even the crowd in the room understood this. They noted that only God could forgive sins. Thus, if Jesus were not God, then He had committed blasphemy by making such a statement.
Honestly though, Jesus just saying the man’s sins are forgiven doesn’t make that true. Anyone could say they forgive sins; that doesn’t mean they actually can forgive sins. Therefore, in order to show Jesus does have the authority to forgive sins, He demonstrates His authority over all things, including this man’s paralysis. Jesus tells the man, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
The key word is in verse 12: “immediately.” “Immediately, he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!'”
Again, when this paralyzed man is healed, it was instantaneous, and it was complete. Immediately, his muscles were no longer atrophied. His joints were not tight and cramped. His balance was perfect to be able to stand up and bend over to pick up his mat. His legs were coordinated to take his first steps without needing any assistance.
There was no rehabilitation to train his body how to walk. There was no learning curve to adjust to standing upright. He didn’t even need a minute to stretch his back after lying down for so many years. This man who was lowered into the room paralyzed, unable to move, was instantly and completely healed so that he could walk out of the room as though he had been walking his entire life.
If these healings had been partly supernatural miracle with a natural process timeline, then each case would require some kind of natural assistance. Maybe Jesus did a miracle but used nature to do it? Then they would have needed some kind of therapy or retraining in order to regain full function of their bodies. There would be healing, but it would require a longer, natural process to get back to full mobility.
But that isn’t what happened. Jesus wasn’t constrained by a natural process timeline. When He spoke the words, the man was healed immediately and completely. No other assistance or process was necessary. What nature takes a long time to do, Jesus can do instantly.
This miracle was a total violation of the natural laws of physics, which is precisely what a miracle is. This was a supernatural, meaning “outside” of nature, event. It does not require a natural explanation. Or rather, it does not have a natural explanation. And it is not intended to.
This is true for all of the miracles Jesus performed. When Jesus raised people from the dead, or cast out demons, or healed the sick, He didn’t need some assistance from a physical, natural process. And He didn’t have to wait on a natural timeline either. He spoke and it instantly and completely happened.
But the events in the Gospels are not the first miracles that Jesus worked. The first miracle Jesus performed goes back to Genesis 1. Jesus was there at creation. According to John 1:3, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” And Paul says in Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
The same miraculous power that we see on display in the Gospel events is on display in Genesis 1. When God spoke the world and all that is in it into existence, it was instantaneous, and it was complete.
God didn’t have to pair up a supernatural event with a natural process. His creative power was not at the mercy of the laws of physics. On the contrary, His creative power instantiated the laws of physics. God didn’t have to wait on a natural process to complete His creation.
God was not constrained by natural processes to perform the miracle of creation. His spoken word of “Let there be light” was just as effective as His words “Arise and walk.” Again, there is no natural explanation needed for a supernatural event. That idea is contradictory by definition.
God could have created everything in less than a nanosecond. So instead of asking, “How long did God take to create the world and everything in it?” Maybe we should ask, “Why did He take so long?”