The Early Church used ‘miracles’ as a marketing theme as much as the producers of ABC’s Lost do today. But by emphasizing Jesus’ Miracles more than His Teachings, it postponed the Kingdom
FR. DAVID RICKEY: In the Bible, Jesus performed more miracles than filled the first four seasons of the ABC series, Lost, and it must have initially been a real kick for him. But for Jesus the miracles seem to have gotten in his way. He was even reported to have rebuked his followers after feeding 5000 people: “You’re following me just because I fed you! Seek the real food!”
For the New Testament Gospel writers, the miracles seem more important than the teaching. So often it reads: “Jesus taught them many things.” Then the writer goes on to tell us in great detail about a miracle. I always say, “Hey! What about the teaching? What was that?” But there’s no answer.
Why the emphasis in the Christian Bible on Miracles? In a word, marketing. I believe the early church was more bent on persuading people that Jesus was the Messiah who would save the world than on spreading (and living!) Jesus’ teaching which, essentially told us how we could “save it”. In other words, the early church passed the buck. They wanted God to come again and fix everything that we messed up.
I could even bite the hand that feeds me and say that the Church worries that if people really got the message that they can do it, the bureaucracy would lose control. I tell my congregation: This is where Jesus says ‘Oy Vey’!
Instead of taking the responsibility to live the life Jesus taught, and thereby create the “Kingdom” as a reality here in this world, they “marketed” a heavenly kingdom that promised salvation, “If You Believe”.
For example, many scholars believe that The Gospel of John (The latest of the four canonical gospels) was based on a “Signs Gospel,” which was just an enumeration of the “signs” Jesus did to prove he was the Messiah. Things haven’t changed much. We still would rather have someone else fix our messes than do the deep inner work to stop creating them in the first place.
Am I saying that Jesus didn’t do miracles? No. I don’t believe all of them, but I believe many — mostly the healing miracles.
Miracles, I think, are intended to get our attention, show us that things aren’t what they seem.
A certain Guru in India, when asked about the miracles he did, answered: “I give them what they want, so they will want what I have to give.”
The miracles are meant, in a way, to blow our mind, so that our mind will open to the deeper teaching. They are meant to market, not the teacher, but the teaching.
And what is that deeper teaching? Generally it’s, “don’t look to the visible world for ultimate reality. Find a deeper connection within, a deeper reality that you are intimately connected to. Learn to live in that reality, and let it work with you and through you to create a world that embodies consciousness.”
In our own time, Eckhart Tolle sums it up well: Your life is about awakening to real consciousness. Everything that happens is merely the means for coming to that awakening, learning that the play of forms is the school in which we become aware of the source of forms, pure consciousness.
That’s why “Belief” doesn’t matter as much as understanding or awareness. Jesus said: (Gospel of Matthew) “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” Don’t hide your light under a bushel but let it shine out to transform the world.
Rather than our being the light, the early church told us to believe that Jesus was the light of the world (Gospel of John), and that he would change the world or bring us to heaven and leave the world behind—the ultimate bailout. Paul kept his churches waiting for Jesus’ return and the rapture, rather than teaching them how to create the kingdom of (en)light(enment) here.
So the buck got passed from the disciples to a future King. Fortunately, “Christian” mystical teachers, from the author of the Gospel of Thomas, through Meister Eckhart, down to Eckhart Tolle and Carolyn Myss, as well as many others like Sri Ramana Maharshi and Krishnamurti have embodied and taught the great wisdom. So, we have no excuse. Each of us is called to have the buck stop here, now.
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