Dane Ortlund is Senior Vice President at Crossway. He is the author of several books, most recently Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (August, 2014). I really appreciated Dane’s A New Inner Relish and so am eagerly awaiting my copy of his new book. In this Incarnation Series guest post, Dane prompts us to re-think Jesus’ miracles in light of the incarnation. (Dane’s books are available via 10ofthose.com (UK) & christianbook.com (US) as well as all other good book retailers!)
In his essay “Is Theology Poetry?” C. S. Lewis spoke of the incarnation as ‘the humiliation of myth into fact.’ He wrote that
what is everywhere and always, imageless and ineffable, only to be glimpsed in dream and symbol and the acted poetry of ritual becomes small, solid—no bigger than a man who can lie asleep in a rowing boat on the Lake of Galilee.
The Word, the Logos, the central meaning of the universe, the integrative center to reality, the climax and culmination of all of human history, that which summoned solar systems into instant existence—at just the right time (Gal. 4:4)—became a baby. The night Christ was born in Bethlehem, Chesterton wrote, “the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle.”
He became a man. The one true man. All that you and I experience Jesus experienced, with the exception of sin. Therefore to question whether Jesus led a normal life as we do is to put the whole point backward. His was the only normal life the world has ever seen. We are the abnormal ones.
When Jesus performed miracles he was not doing violence to the natural order. He was restoring the natural order to the way it was meant to be. People were not supposed to be blind but to see. People were not made to be lame but to walk. Legs are supposed to work.
In this sense Jesus’ healing miracles were not supernatural. They were miracles, to be sure—but they were re-naturalizing miracles. This fallen world is sub-natural. Jesus is the one truly human being who ever lived. The incarnation does not give us a hypothetical picture of how we would be able to live if only we were divine. It gives us an actual picture of how we are meant to live, and one day will, when we are once again fully human.