Do you ever wish that God had given the Bible as a video instead of a book? Sometimes, I feel that way, especially when the Bible records a miracle.
Now, I have enough imagination that I can picture a dead man sitting up or a crippled man jumping to his feet. But what did it look like when Jesus touched the bleeding ear of Malchus and healed him? Did a new ear grow or did he just reattach the old one? What did it look like when Jesus took a little boy’s lunch and fed thousands of people with it? I’ve seen Hollywood’s attempts to portray that miracle, but how accurate is the depiction?
Jesus’ miracles testified about the Savior
God didn’t wait to send his Son until cell phones with cameras were invented, so we have to be content with trying to visualize the amazing things he did. Maybe that’s a good thing because a far more important question comes to mind: Why did Jesus do miracles?
Very simply, miracles were another way to preach. They weren’t there for entertainment. In fact, when people came to Jesus just to be entertained, he usually avoided them. Miracles weren’t done to make Jesus a celebrity. He often told people not to tell what he had done for them.
Like those who saw his miracles, when we read of them, they tell us about our Savior. Every miracle testifies that Jesus is the true Son of God who has all power over life and death, but miracles are not intended to make us shake in fear at the naked power of the judge of all the earth. Jesus’ miracles show that he loves us. He has compassion because we hurt, so he gave a widow back her dead son. He healed a woman who had spent all she had on doctors and only wanted to stop her bleeding. Jesus’ miracles proclaim his love for sinners who are stuck in a broken world.
Jesus used miracles to demonstrate that he has the authority to forgive sins by demonstrating his power over the problems that sin brings into our lives. When a paralyzed man was lowered through a hole in the roof to where Jesus was teaching, the first thing Jesus said to that man was, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Then when his authority to do that was challenged, he said, “Take your mat and go home.” And that paralyzed man did (see Luke 5:17-26).
You can also see how closely Jesus tied his miracles to the gospel message by the way he did not use them. In the gospels, the miracles do not directly condemn or bring judgment on someone. During his life on this earth, Jesus’ miracles almost always made the love of God real and touchable. They underlined the truth of his message and became a kind of proclamation themselves. Just as Jesus’ acts of love and compassion said something about him, his miracles cried out to everyone who saw them and heard about them. Their message again and again was simple: This is your Savior; he loves you at all times, including the times you hurt.
Since miracles proclaimed to others, Jesus never did a miracle for his own benefit. When he had not eaten for 40 days, the devil told him to turn stones into bread. Could Jesus have done that? Certainly. Why would that have been so wrong? Jesus had to be ravenous. The devil didn’t tell him to make steaks. He just told him to make bread. But Jesus’ miracles were part of his work as the last and greatest prophet. He set aside the full and constant use of his power as the Son of God and invoked his power when it would advance the gospel message.
Jesus’ miracles speak to us
Even without dramatic cell phone video footage, Jesus’ miracles speak to us just as much as they spoke to the people who saw them and directly benefited from them. John writes, “Jesus performed many other [miracles] 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 Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30,31). God carefully chose what he recorded for us about the life and words of Christ. He chose to show us Jesus healing the sick and walking on water and feeding the hungry and raising the dead. He has a reason for sharing these miracles.
God is saying to you and me: “This is your Savior!” Every miracle shows us God hidden inside human flesh that could be bound and whipped and nailed to a cross. Those miracles that showed authority to forgive sins assure us that our sins are forgiven too. They show God kneeling down to our world. They show him taking on human flesh and touching us when he touched people with leprosy and blindness and every other disease. They show him defeating the power of the same devil who torments us when he cast out demons. They show him overcoming everything that hurts in this life when he raised a little girl and gave her back to her father. They show him conquering all our sin and giving us eternal life when he called Lazarus out of the grave.
Every miracle testifies that Jesus is the true Son of God who has all power over life and death.
Those miracles that show his compassion and his power to heal the hurts of life in a broken world remind us who hears our prayer. It’s no wonder that we are encouraged to pray. He can “empathize with our weaknesses. . . . Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15,16).
Jesus’ miracles remind us he has the power to undo all that sin does to us. He came to restore our bodies—and even this world—to the perfection of Eden. He came to glorify our broken and corrupted physical bodies and make them like his glorious body. That is what the forgiveness of our sins ultimately does for us.
I’ve often wished that God would let us see miracles today, just like the people who saw the ministry of Jesus did. God does not often do that for us. Yet, every pastor can tell you stories of prayers answered in ways that seem to be miraculous. And even if we never see a hint of God setting aside the normal laws of nature to accomplish his will, we still have all those miracles of Jesus. God recorded them in his Word.
God built his power into that Word, especially into the gospel. That message does another miracle that is every bit as great as those recorded in the gospels: It touches the hearts of sinners like us and creates faith in our Savior. By that power, he assures us that Jesus really did die and rise and we truly are forgiven. That is the very message every one of Jesus’ miracles wants us to hear.
Author: Geoffrey Kieta
Volume 109, Number 01
Issue: January 2022