God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered them all, and so overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. When this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, everyone was awestruck; and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised. Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices. A number of those who practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. ~ Acts 19:11-19
What do you think of when you hear the word, "magic?" A magician? Harry Potter? Or if you are my age or older, Samantha Stevens from "Bewitched?"
Do you think of magic as innately good or evil?
How is magic different from miracles?
One way I've come to think of it has to do with what does magic point to or show?
When I think of magic, I tend to think of the act itself, or the actor: the magician. I think magic is focused on impressing us.
And sometimes we define miracles that way. But that wouldn't be how Paul would define them.
And certainly wouldn't be how Jesus defined them. Jesus wasn't looking for us to be impressed by the act itself. If we simply focus on the act, we get stuck. Jesus wanted us to see miracles as the thing that point us to God.
Maybe these seven exorcists were trying to get known. Maybe they thought these impressive acts would get their names out there.
But even the demons didn't know them!
Miracles happen all throughout scripture. But when they do, the first place to look is in the direction of God.
To see the miracles as a sign of something bigger that the act itself.
Help me to see your hand in all of the miracles and mysteries of your creation, O Lord! Amen.