Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Jesus' Miracles and What They Teach Us

This is part 5 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 Death
  6. His Authority Over Nature
  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.

Jesus' Miracles and His Authority

Jesus proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God. As its King, we would expect Him to rule. On earth He spoke and taught as one who had authority, and thus could command and expect obedience from His subjects. 

His miracles, however, demonstrated that His authority extended beyond the rule of citizens. In each of the next sections, I will provide several stories from the gospels and then add my comments

His Authority Over Death

The woman who had the hemorrhage and touched the hem of Jesus' garment  interrupted an important procession. The ruler of a synagogue had come to Jesus because his daughter was dying. The crowd was rushing to the home so that Jesus could heal her. The delay caused by the woman proved fatal:

Then the woman, with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue ruler’s house saying, “Your daughter has died. Why trouble the teacher any longer?” But Jesus, paying no attention to what was said, told the synagogue ruler, “Do not be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. They came to the house of the synagogue ruler where he saw noisy confusion and people weeping and wailing loudly. When he entered he said to them, “Why are you distressed and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they began making fun of him. But he put them all outside and he took the child’s father and mother and his own companions and went into the room where the child was. Then, gently taking the child by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up.” The girl got up at once and began to walk about (she was twelve years old). They were completely astonished at this. He strictly ordered that no one should know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:33-43, The Net Bible)

The thing that strikes me here is how little effort Jesus expended to raise this dead girl. When Jesus healed people, He sometimes spit, made mud cakes, or had them do something. To raise this dead girl, He spoke. More remarkable, He spoke to the dead person. I say spoke, but, in fact, He commanded. With the demons, Jesus had often to dialog with them to arrange the terms of exit. Raising the dead, by comparison, seems easy with Him. This observation is borne out by this next story:

Soon afterward Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the town gate, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother (who was a widow), and a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and those who carried it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” So the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they began to glorify God, saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us!” and “God has come to help his people!” This report about Jesus circulated throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17)

Here again, Jesus commands the dead to do some action of the living, and they rise.

The Jews quickly buried their dead. Acts 5:6 tells of the burial of Ananias even before his wife knows of his death. Perhaps Jairus' daughter and the widow's son were only in some deep coma. There are stories, perhaps of the urban legend variety, of people reviving in the morgue. Perhaps Jesus merely healed these people. The story of Lazarus, then, is all the more important:

Jesus, intensely moved again, came to the tomb. (Now it was a cave, and a stone was placed across it.) Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, replied, “Lord, by this time the body will have a bad smell, because he has been buried four days.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you that you have listened to me. I knew that you always listen to me, but I said this for the sake of the crowd standing around here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he shouted in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The one who had died came out, his feet and hands tied up with strips of cloth, and a cloth wrapped around his face. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.” (John 11:38-44)

Here is the same speaking to the dead as before.


The dead cannot hinder Jesus' work. There is no issue of belief, no belief, or unbelief in their case. Consequently God's will moves more freely, not constrained by our interference. I am reminded of creation, "And God said ... and it was so."

That Jesus spoke to the dead is clear evidence that life persists after the grave. It is indirect evidence that our lives exist beyond the firing of neurons in the brain. To raise the dead, Jesus had to repair the body. Then by His command the person returned to its carton and obeyed. So it will be in the day of our resurrection, when the Lord will have new cartons for us and will bid us to occupy them.

Jesus' verbal authority over death clearly establishes His nature to be beyond that of men. We begin to see His divine nature emerging. Tomorrow, you will see that nature in its full expression.

Thursday: Jesus' Authority Over Nature

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home