Thursday, February 20, 2003

Jesus' Miracles and What They Teach Us

This is part 1 of a series that looks at why Jesus performed miracles and what He taught us through them. The series will work its way through:

  1. Why Jesus performed miracles.
  2. More Reasons
  3. His Authority Over Disease
  4. His Authority Over Satan
  5. His Authority Over Nature
  6. His Authority Over Death
  7. His Authority Delegated to His Disciples
  8. His Authority Delegated to His Church

You can get to any of the available lessons by clicking on the lesson title. If nothing happens you are either already at the lesson, or I have not written it yet.

Why Jesus Performed Miracles

Jesus was not a traveling show. In His travels He taught that everyone should "repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17, The Net Bible) A big part of His message was the working of miracles. There are obvious reasons why He would do this, not the least of which is that He was able to do so. They showed His power and authenticated His message. But there were other less obvious reasons, and they are important too.

Jesus Performed Miracles to Obey His Father

Jesus did not have a lone ministry. He was the Son and He had a Father, and, therefore, He obeyed that Father. It was the Father who sent Him to earth on a mission of salvation. It was the Father who decided what Jesus was to do and when He was to do it. As John records:

Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish authorities began persecuting him. So Jesus told them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.” For this reason the Jewish authorities were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God. So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and greater deeds than these he will show him, so that you may be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all people may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. (John 5:16-23)

The initiative for everything the Jesus did came from the Father, but the power to perform came from Himself. The Father and the Son both raise the dead, but it is the Father who chooses who to raise and when. Jesus one day will judge the world, but it is the Father who delegates that judgment. I realize that the doctrine of the Trinity is more mysterious that I am making it out to be right now. Even Jesus intentionally blurs the distinction even as He drew it. Nevertheless, the Son knows His place and gives honor to the Father.

After the coming of the Holy Spirit, Paul was able to put the works of the Holy Spirit's gifts within the same framework within which Jesus worked:

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus requested that the Father send to us, gives us gifts in order serve in the ministries that the Son (Lord) which produces the results that the Father (God) intended all along. The Father initiates, the Son creates, and the Holy Spirit empowers. As we employ and deploy the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us, "to each person." we need to seek the will of the Father, as Jesus did, and do His work on earth.

Jesus Performed Miracles to Notify the Authorities

The miracles that Jesus performed sent a signal to the Jewish authorities in Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem, that He had come. The one miracle that did this best was the healing of lepers. According to the Law of Moses, a cleansed leper had to present himself before the priests at the temple. They would examine him. If he was found clean, he could offer the appropriate sacrifices. Note: Biblical leprosy was an infectious skin disease.

Jesus began His ministry by sending a stream of cleansed lepers to Jerusalem:

After he came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you do not speak to anyone, but go, show yourself to a priest, and bring the offering that Moses commanded as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4)

It is no wonder that there was soon a delegation put together to see this man who was performing these signs.

Jesus Performed Miracles to Show Compassion

Jesus cared for us, or He would not have come in the first place. It is, therefore, obvious that compassion would be a motivation behind His works of power:

Now a leper came to him and fell to his knees, asking for help. “If you are willing, you can make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” (Mark 1:40-41)

Jesus reached out and touched the unclean man. That action communicated the full extent of His compassion for this leprous man.

Friday: More Reasons for Performing Miracles

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