Transforming our minds through miracles
Jesus was a Cultural Engineer. We know this because He appointed Apostles as the leaders of this movement.
The noun “Apostle” was not a religious term. It was a term Jesus used which He had borrowed from the Romans, who themselves had borrowed from the Greeks. Apostles were the title given to specialists emperors would send into a region or nation after it had been conquered. Apostles had a really specific role. Their job was to establish the culture of the sending nation in the conquerer nation.
One of the reasons they did this would be to Roman-ise a country so when the King came to town it would feel like home. The most powerful way they discovered to achieve this was to retrofit the culture.
Cultures are invisible streams of influence which powerfully influence behaviour. In established cultures people unconsciously and automatically follow the flow and patterns of life around them. The Romans discovered if they could change the culture of a nation they had conquered whole sways of people would unconsciously become Roman.
Though cultures are a complex mix of values, heritage and systems, the core ingredients to them are belief systems. The Apostles set about changing people’s belief systems through education, religion and dazzling the nations they conquered with their architecture. Overtime the population minds were moulded and reformed.
Jesus established Apostles are the spearhead of His mission to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. In Jesus’ role as a Rabbi His job was to create blueprints of Himself in the way His disciples thought and the work they did. As the commissioner of Apostles His job of shaping His followers thinking was even more pronounced given that His Apostles would be charged with shaping cultural forces.
During His time with them, it is possible to see Him begin to call their thinking to another operating system. This new operating system was the Kingdom of God.
One of the best examples of Jesus doing this can be seen in a trio of stories: The Feeding of the 5000, the feeding of the 4,000 and then His dialogue with them about the lack of provision in the boat.
In the Feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6: 30) Jesus uses a natural event to set them up to think differently. Immediately their solution process orientates itself to the natural world. In the inventory that they take, the need clearly outstrips the available supply. Stuck in their human reasoning the Apostles are unable to see beyond this. Jesus, though looks up into Heaven and sees the abundance of His Father’s world, a world without lack, and lays hold of what is available in that realm and pulls it into His present situation. In the process the 5,000 hungry people have a banquet.
A chapter and a half later they are again confronted with a virtually identical situation. This time 4,000 people need to be fed. The inventory is still in the negative and the disciples cannot see beyond what is humanly possible. So again Jesus looks to heaven, give thanks and begins to distribute the provisions. And this time the miracle takes place through the hands of the disciples as they pass out the food.
A few verses on in Mark 8 we read:
14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
It is clear that the disciples have not learnt the object lesson that Jesus was inviting them into. Confronted with the Supernatural breakthrough of the Kingdom on two instances their minds remained unchanged.
They still did not understand. And what was it that they still did not understand? That His world has no limits or shortages.
This side of the Second Coming, the Kingdom is not automatic. It is apprehended (Laid hold of) through faith. Faith is essentially our beliefs. The gatekeeper of faith are our minds.
This is why Paul says, “Do not be confirmed to this world: But be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:2)
The Greek word “Transformed” here is the same word that is used when Jesus is transfigured when He talks with Moses and Elijah. The reality of heaven radiated through Jesus and He shone with lumens that hurt the eyes of those looking at Him. He shone with Heavens brilliance.
To be transformed by the renewing of our mind is to reflect the reality of another world, heaven, in our thought life. It is to think from Heaven’s perspective.
It is only the renewed mind that is able to prove the will of God. In order to become effective Apostles they needed a shift in the way they thought.
Bill Johnson says that:
“People who are out of sync with the mind of Christ seldom get used no matter how available they are because their thoughts conflict with the mind of Christ. They are self-appointed in their mission and are not in submission to the primary mission. As a result, they are working entirely outside of God’s intended commission.”
When the same issues of life keep landing on your doorstep God is trying to teach you a lesson about the nature of His world. Within it there is an invitation to revelation.
In Mark 6: 37 He had asked His disciples to feed the people. They responded with sarcastic scorn. They thought with human reasoning. Jesus looks up into His world. And draws from Heaven. He did the miracle.
In Mark 8 Jesus gives the bread to His disciples and this time the bread multiplies in their hand. The same happens with the fish.
In verse 14 they get into the boat and guess what? They are confronted by a food shortage AGAIN!
How are they thinking this time? They argue. They start to blame.
Jesus responds to them:
Don’t you know or understand yet?
Are your hearts too hard to take it in?
Can’t you see?
Can’t you hear?
Don’t you remember?
What is Jesus talking about? He is talking about the miracles around food that they have just seen.
Psalm 78: 1-4:
1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
There is something parabolic about miracles. They are not just events. They reveal the nature of God.
The Psalm goes on to say that
The warriors of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned their backs and fled on the day of battle. They did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his instructions. They forgot what he had done—
the great wonders he had shown them
God only leads us into battles that we are equipped to win. So why did Ephraim turn back in the day of battle?
Because they had forgotten what He had done.
They became careless with testimonies. They treated with contempt what had taken place. And when we loose an awe for the miraculous we loose courage for radical obedience. When we loose courage for radical obedience we won’t have confidence in the day of conflict.
Bill Johnson says that “Human reasoning puts a cap on what God is able to do.”
Ephraim means fruitful. There DNA was to win. They went against their design
There is something in the miraculous that is meant to shift our thinking.
Other Sermons In This Series
September 18, 2017
October 12, 2017