A. This is the first week on Jesus’ mighty works of power. We will spend a whole week on His healings, one on demon-deliverances, and one on raisings from the dead.
1. Today: miracles in general AND those miracles which don’t fit these other categories.
B. Miracles, signs and wonders (from Acts 2:22)
1. Miracles (powers) – demonstrations of power
2. Signs – signifying something
3. Wonders – astonishing, attention-getting
II. Jesus and miracles
A. As far as we can tell, our Lord’s first act of public ministry was not a sermon or a parable or the gathering of disciples. It was a miracle – at the wedding of Cana.
B. Jesus ministry was characterized by miracles.
1. He performed at least 34 distinctive miracles and it is clear from the record that this was just a small sampling of the miracles Jesus performed. John 20:30 “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.”
2. “Miracles do not simply occur here and there; they enter into the very warp and woof or the narrative, so that it is impossible to eliminate the miraculous and leave anything behind that is worthy of our attention.” (Samuel Craig, Jesus of Yesterday and Today)
3. “The choice is between a miraculous Christianity and no Christianity at all.” (Craig)
C. Types of miracles
2. Casting out demons
3. Raising from the dead
4. Multiplication of food
5. Shriveling fig trees
6. Catching many fish
7. Stilling the storm
8. Walking on water
9. One time: Water to wine, Coin in fish’s mouth
D. Miracles surrounded His life which He Himself didn’t actually do
1. E.g. Birth miracles, dove at baptism, transfiguration, resurrection, ascension
E. Only one is recorded in all four gospels (feeding 5000), but at least 13 are found in at least 3.
F. Of course, Jesus Himself was the ultimate miracle. There is nothing more against the normal pattern of the creation than the God of the universe taking on human flesh. CS Lewis, The Grand Miracle
III. The meaning of Jesus’ miracles
A. Divine endorsements in order to help man believe – God furnishing credentials that prove Jesus is who He says He is. They are aids to faith.
1. Acts 2:22 “Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know.”
a. Attested to you by God (to prove, validate)
b. Performed by God through Him (things only God can do)
(1) Nicodemus was right when he said in John 3:2 “This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (Cf. John 9:33)
c. In your midst – just as you yourselves know (which you can see with your own eyes)
2. Other verses that confirm this:
a. John 5:36 “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.”
b. John 10:25 “The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me.”
c. John 10:37 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
d. John 14:10-11 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”
e. The apostles also appealed to the miracles of Jesus to substantiate their claims about Him (e.g. Acts 2:22; 10:37-39)
f. John 20:30-31 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
3. The miracles of Jesus are part of the basis for our faith. We can tell He was from God.
4. Miracles don’t always lead to faith, of course – e.g. Jn.12:37 “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”
5. However, it still produces an effect, even if it does not lead to faith. It increases the guiltiness of the one who sees the miracle – making them more fit for God’s punishment:
a. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!” (Luke 10:13-15)
b. John 15:24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.”
B. Reveal the goodness of Jesus
1. Acts 10:38 apparently referring to the doing of miracles Peter says that Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.”
2. John 2:11 “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” (His glory – not just His power)
3. Certainly we see this re: healings, casting out demons and raising from the dead.
4. “the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up” (Matt.11)
5. The stilling of the storm, the water into wine, the feeding of the multitudes, the catching a great net-full of fish, the finding the coin in the fish’s mouth: These are all in response to human need, showing our Lord’s compassion and love, along with His power to help.
6. Mark 5:19 Jesus said to the Gerasene demoniac, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”
7. Behold the mercy and the goodness of Jesus!
C. Signify what Jesus came to do
1. Each miracle is a parable. So we ought to ask: What does this miracle mean? E.g.
a. Multiplication of food: I am the source of the true food which God gives to satisfy souls
b. Shriveling fig trees: my people Israel are about to be cursed
c. Catching many fish: come with Me and I will make you fishers of men
d. Stilling the storm: the storms of life are in My hands, I am the One who stills the storm of God’s wrath
2. Each miracle is a sign of the restoration of the last day.
a. “Every miracle is a prophecy of the parousia and the restitution of all things which it introduces.” (Samuel Craig, Jesus of Yesterday and Today)
b. John 6 after feeding of 5000: true food
IV. The times Jesus doesn’t do miracles
A. There are times when Jesus chooses not to do a miracle.
1. Sometimes He left crowds of needy people to go to a different place to minister.
2. Sometimes He did no miracles because the people had no faith (e.g. Mark 6:5).
3. Perhaps the most amazing miracle is the One Jesus never did.
a. Matthew 26:53 “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
B. Jesus chooses not to do miracles sometimes in our lives just like He refused to rescue Himself from His cross. It’s because there is an eternal value and a redemptive purpose in the cross.
1. This world is under a curse. And this is not by accident. In response to Adam’s sin, God did it – He subjected this world to futility – for a purpose (Rom.8:20f.).
2. The curse humbles us and prepares us to see our need for God. It reveals the inadequacy of this world, that it’s not our final resting place.
3. God does enough miracles to remind us of His power, His love and compassion, but not enough that we start putting our hope in this world, in this age, not enough to remove the tears and the hardships of this life.
4. Paul prayed three times for a miracle to remove his thorn in the flesh. But God did not allow it. God had an important purpose for that thorn – to keep Paul from growing conceited – and He did not take it away in spite of all Paul’s prayers.
C. Why doesn’t Jesus heal all sick and hurting people in the world today?
1. For every Mary and Martha whose tears are turned to dancing by the raising of their brother, there are billions of other Marys and Marthas who wept and cried out to the Lord and yet whose brothers never got raised.
2. James dies and Peter is rescued.
3. He has the power. Someday He will rescue us all. But this is not that day.
4. His miracles pointed ahead to that day, but that’s all.
5. The people Jesus healed got sick again and died. Lazarus died again. Where was Jesus that time? Did He forget about His friend? Did He no longer care?
6. Jesus has chosen for this to be a time of sickness, sadness, brokenness, grief and cursedness.
7. He certainly does heal and give us other glimpses of the glorious age to come. But this is not the dominant feature of the day.
D. Does this mean that He doesn’t love us? Or that He loves us less than the people He rescued with miracles? Not at all.
1. Their miracles were for us too. They show us that God could if it was best.
2. He is not limited in His power to help us. He will stop at nothing to give us what we need.
3. “The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”
4. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rm.8:31-32)
5. Even those things which bring us pain. They are not against us, they are for us. Kiss the rod.