We have seen Jesus come onto the world stage at the baptism of John the Baptist. From there he gathered the fellowship together. Out of the hundreds and thousands that followed him he chose twelve! His purpose for them was threefold. First, that they might be with him. Second, that he might send them out to preach. Third, they would have the authority to cast out demons! (Mark 3:13-15)
Jesus’ miracles were not just show and tell. They were absolute demonstrations of Jesus’ authority ruling over the physical and spiritual worlds. His miracles were life changing events for many people. Even his opponents recognized that he was something more than just a teacher. We will look at some of his miracles and see what we can learn from them.
His first miracle occurred in the village of Cana and was recorded by John the disciple (John 2:1-11). Jesus and his disciples had been invited to a wedding along with his family. We are not told why they were invited but we can assume they might have been relatives on the human side. Cana was located just north of Nazareth in Galilee. This region is where Jesus spent much of his ministry. As far as I can tell the wine of Jesus’ day, if it were the season of ripe grapes, would have been fresh or, if not in season, reconstituted grape juice.
Jesus was approached by his mother who said to him, “They have no wine”, notice she did not ask him to do anything! She simply presented him with the problem. I believe our prayer lives would be better if we followed the same pattern. Instead of asking for a particular result we should just present the problem to God the Father in the name of Jesus. He will know what to do.
Jesus’ response certainly would not have been acceptable in our day. Because he said, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” I would have never used the word “woman” in addressing my mother! Mary certainly did not take offense instead she simply told the servants to do what Jesus said.
Jesus had them take six stone water jars and fill them with water! Then he told them to take some of the water, now turned to wine, to the master of ceremonies. He immediately called for the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”
John 2:1-11. John did not call this a miracle he called it a “sign”. Later Nicodemus said to him, “We know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him” (John 3:2).
Again he uses the term “sign”. Clearly, the miracles were designed by God to authenticate Jesus’ ministry. A true miracle gives evidence that God is at work. A second similar purpose of miracles is to demonstrate that the kingdom of God has come into the world. Matthew recalls Jesus saying, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” Matthew 12:28.
Jesus’ miracles were designed to show the beneficial nature of God’s kingdom. Jesus clearly believed that he was there to usher in the kingdom.
What would seem to be the primary reason for miracles — to help needy people — was just a fringe benefit!
One day Jesus and his disciples were crossing the lake and a storm came on the lake. This gave Jesus an opportunity to demonstrate his authority over nature. Mark recalled incident. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:37-41.
That miracle on the lake enabled him to demonstrate his power outside of the territory of the Jews.
After the windstorm they came to the other side of the lake. When Jesus stepped out of the boat he was confronted by a man with an unclean spirit. He made his home in the cemetery. The people of the territory tried to bind him with shackles and chains. He ripped the chains apart and broke the shackles. Nobody could control him and the people were afraid of him. Let’s look at Mark’s account of the event.
“And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.” Mark 5:6-13.
The pig farmers did not rejoice in the man’s healing. Instead they ran through the region telling everyone what had just happened. People from all over the surrounding area came to see the man for themselves. Instead of rejoicing over his healing they asked Jesus to leave the territory. Mark doesn’t tell us what their motive was! I believe they were more concerned about the loss of their bacon than they were the healing of the demon possessed man.
The man who was healed begged Jesus to take him along. Jesus would not permit him to come. Jesus had a better plan. Jesus said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19.
On returning to Jewish territory Jesus was confronted by a man named Jairus who was very agitated. He fell at Jesus’ feet and said, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” Mark 5:23. Jesus went with the man and a great crowd surrounded them as they traveled.
There was in that crowd of people a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years. The medical establishment in the area had used up her financial resources and were unable to help her. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Mark 5:27-28. She was immediately healed and Jesus stopped and said, “Who touched me?” Mark 5:30. His disciples told him that the crowd was pressing in on him. There was no way of telling who had touched him. Then the woman came forward and admitted she had touched him. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:34.
While Jesus was taking care of the woman some came from the ruler’s house with the message that his daughter had died! Jesus instructed the ruler of the synagogue not to fear, only believe. Taking Peter, James and John with him he came to the house where the little girl was. The crowd surrounding the house were weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus entered the house and sent the mourners away. Then he took the girl by the hand. He told her to get up and she did! Jesus told her family not to tell what had happened. He then instructed them to get her some food!
Each one of these incidents brought a different message. Jesus asserted authority over the world he had created when he calmed the storm. He went into the Gentile world and delivered a man from a legion of demons. When the woman came and touched his robe he demonstrated that her faith did the healing. Then, Jesus demonstrated his power over life and death in healing the dead girl.
Another time Jesus left the Jewish territories and went to Tyre and Sidon. He was again outside Jewish territory.
When he entered a house he was approached by a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit. She fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged him to set her daughter free. Again he demonstrated his power over non-Jews. In order to make it very clear Jesus told the woman, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Mark 7:27. She chose not to be offended by the reference to “the dogs”. She said, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7:28. She went home and found her daughter lying in bed free from the demon.
Time will not allow us to look at all the miracles. The miracles I’ve chosen show us some of the ways that God works beyond our understanding. You see, a miracle is a less common kind of activity by God in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.
Throughout the Bible signs and wonders is used as a standard expression to refer to miracles. We are shown throughout the Bible that God is the one who does great wonders. The song of Moses in Exodus 15:11 states:
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
terrible and glorious deeds, doing wonders?
This informs us that the signs Moses did were given to convince the people that God has sent Moses. When Jesus healed people and cast out demons there is no question that these were miracles! They were remarkable to the people to cause them to acknowledge God’s power at work!
In the New Testament, Jesus miraculous signs proves that he came from God. Nicodemus said it best, “No one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him” John 3:2. This was the obvious reaction of the people to Jesus’ work. Later Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon, would say Jesus was, “a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst” Acts 2:22. He did not claim anything that the people did not already believe. He sent his disciples out preaching that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and he told them, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Matt. 10:7–8). They could not do this without seeking God for miracles everywhere they went. Jesus’ command required them to seek for miracles to happen. Should we seek miracles?
Our faith that God will work in powerful and even miraculous ways is far too small. We must beware of being infected by a secular worldview that assumes that God will not answer prayer, very seldom, if ever. And we should certainly not be embarrassed to talk about miracles if they occur—or think that a non-miraculous answer to prayer is better! Miracles are God’s work, and he works them to bring glory to himself and to strengthen our faith. When we encounter serious needs in people’s lives today, it is right for us to seek God for an answer, and where miraculous intervention seems to be needed, then to ask God if he would be pleased to work in that way.
Remember Mary’s request at Cana? She simply presented the problem Jesus. What he would do would be up to him. We need to present our problems to God and leave the answer in his hands.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.