"Who Is Jesus?" part 8
The Miracle Worker
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 30, 2010

Well, we’ve spent the better part of two months trying to answer the question, “Who Is Jesus?” And so far we’ve covered a lot of territory. But one area that we haven’t discussed in much detail yet is actually one of the best known aspects of His ministry… His miracles.

Just ask around, and I’d bet a lot of people would be able to name at least one of the miracles of Jesus… How He walked on water… how He fed over 5000 people with just a couple fish and five loaves of bread… How He raised Lazarus from the dead… How He could calm a mighty storm with the sound of His voice… How He healed lepers, gave sight to the blind, and enabled the lame to walk.

Jesus is well known today as a miracle worker, and even back in the day He had that reputation among the people. In fact, a lot of people only came out to hear His message because they were hoping to see Him perform a miracle. And it all started with His very first miracle, which took place at a wedding when He turned water into wine. And the news spread about Him from there.

Actually, I think it’s pretty funny how that miracle came about. You see, in that culture, wedding celebrations would go on for days. And a big part of the festivities would be to enjoy a lot of wine. Well, we don’t even know who the bride and the groom were, but we do know that they ran out of wine. And while today, if you were serving wine at your wedding that might seem inconvenient or even a little embarrassing, back then it would have been downright humiliating. It would have brought a shame on the family that they would never live down.

So Jesus’ mother, Mary—who was also invited to the wedding—volunteered her Son to do something about it. And Jesus was like, “No Mom, not now… it’s not the right time…” And Mary just kind of ignored Him and told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. So I can picture Jesus just kind of sighing and going, “Oh, Mom.”

And then He performed the miracle. He told the servants to fill some jars with water, and then to serve that water to the guests, starting with the Master of Ceremonies. And the MC who was unaware of what was going on took the cup, took a sip, and was amazed at how good the wine was.

It may have happened a little earlier than He had planned… it may have happened at the urging of His mother (and I think there’s a lot we can learn from that about the respect that Jesus had for His mother), but regardless of why it happened it was the first of something like 35 miracles we’re told about in the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament).

Actually, depending on who’s counting, there are between 33 and 40 miracles mentioned. Here’s a list of 35 of Jesus’ miracles that Larry Richards identified in his book, “Every Miracle of the Bible.”

The Miracles of Jesus:

1. Jesus Turns Water Into Wine (Jn 2: 1- 11)
2. Jesus Heals The Noble Man’s Son (John 4:46-54)
3. Jesus Provides A Great Catch Of Fish (Lk 5:1-11)
4. Jesus Heals A Demonic In A Synagogue (Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37)
5. Jesus Heals His Peter’s Mother-In-Law (Mt 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39)
6. Jesus Cleanses A Leper (Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-15)
7. Jesus Heals A Paralytic (Mt 9:2-7, Mark 2:3-12, Lk. 5:18-26)
8. Jesus Heals A Cripple At Bethesada (John 5: 1-18)
9. Jesus Heals A Withered Hand (Mt 12:9-12, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 5:6-10,)
10. Jesus Heals A Centurion’s Servant (Mt 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10)
11. Jesus Raises A Widow’s Son (Luke 7:11-17)
12. Jesus Stills A Storm (Mt 8:23-27, Mk 4:35-41, Lk 8:22-25)
13. Jesus Delivers A Demonic In Gedara (Mt 8:28-34, Mk 5:1-20, Luke 8:27-39)
14. Jesus A Woman Of A Hemorrhage (Mt 9: 20-22, Mk 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48)
15. Jesus Raises Jairus’s Daughter (Mt 9:18-26, Mk 5:22-43, Luke 8:41-56)
16. Jesus Heals Two Blind Men (Matt. 9:27-31)
17. Jesus Cast Out A Mute Spirit (Matt. 9:32-25)
18. Jesus Feeds The 5,000 (Mt 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-14)
19. Jesus Walks On Water (Matt. 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6: 15-21)
20. Jesus Heals A Syro-Phoneician Girl(Mt 15:21-28, Mk 7:24-30)
21. Jesus Heals the Deaf and the Dumb Man (Mark 7:31-37)
22. Jesus Feeds The 4,000 (Mt 15:30-38, Mark 8:1-9)
23. Jesus Heals The Blind Man (Mark 8:22-26)
24. Jesus Delivers The Demonized Boy (Mt 17:14-21, Mk 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43)
25. Jesus Provides Money In A Fish’s Mouth (Matt. 17:24-27)
26. Jesus Heals A Man Born Blind (Jn 9:1-7)
27. Jesus Heals A Woman Bound By Satan (Luke 13: 10-17)
28. Jesus Heals A Man With Dropsy (Luke 14:1-6)
29. Jesus Raises Lazarus (John 11)
30. Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers (Luke 17:11-19)
31. Jesus Heals Bartimaeus (Mt 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43)
32. Jesus Curses A Fig Tree (Mt 21:17-22, Mark 11: 12-14, 20-24)
33. Jesus Replaces Malchus’s Ear (Mt 26:51-56, Mk4: 46-47, Lk 22:50-51, Jn 18: 10-11)
34. Wonders At Calvary
35. Jesus Provides A Catch Of Fish (Jn 21:1-14)
[Larry Richards. “Every Miracle of the Bible.” ( Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1998) pp. 198-199]

Some of those miracles were witnessed by individuals, some just by His disciples, some by small groups of people, and others by hundreds or even thousands of people at the same time. Some of the miracles in that list were recorded by all four writers of the Gospels; some of the miracles are only mentioned once. None of the Gospels records all 35 in the same book.

Okay, so that’s a list of 35 miracles, and that’s just skimming the surface of what Jesus actually did. This is what we’re told in the last verse of the fourth Gospel…

John 21:25 (NLT)
Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

So yeah, we’re told about 35 miracles. But there were a lot more that we’re not told about.

Okay, so we’re talking about the miracles of Jesus. It’d probably be a good idea for us to describe what a miracle actually is. Because maybe we’ve got a few different ideas here. Well, in a book written by Erwin Lutzer, there’s a pretty good description of what a miracle is not and what a miracle is. Lutzer says…

What Is a Miracle?

“A popular but wrong definition is to say that a miracle is a point in time in which God intervenes in the world…. That definition fails for one good reason: It gives the false impression that God only occasionally intervenes in the world. … A miracle happens when God, who is continuously active in the world, breaks His usual pattern and does something extraordinary.”
~ Erwin W. Lutzer
“Seven Convincing Miracles.” (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999) pp. 16-17]

Do you understand what he’s talking about there? God’s already at work in this world, and He always has been. So it’s not as if He just pops up here and there to perform a miracle. Because He’s already here. It’s not as if He just checks in on us during commercials… He’s always tuned in on us. Miracles are more like the times that God colours outside the lines. He moves outside of the boundary of the laws of nature—which He’s free to do because He set them up in the first place—and it’s what He does in those moments that we recognize as being miracles.

Now, in talking about what a miracle is, we can also recognize that there are three primary categories of miracles that Jesus performed. You can write these in your notes…

Four Primary Categories of Jesus’ Miracles:

•    Healing
The blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers
•    Exorcism
Like when He cast out the mute spirit in Matthew 9, or in Mark chapter 5 when He freed a man who was possessed by so many demons that they called themselves “Legion”
•    Controlling nature
VIDEO - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4e2ObogYCE 
(Or - Remember the episode of Happy Days when Fonzie was trying to go to sleep outside, but the sound of all the animals in the woods was keeping Him awake. So he sat up and said, “Cool it!” And there wasn’t a sound.)
Well, I kind of picture Jesus doing that when he’s out in a boat with His followers and they’re caught in a storm. Jesus is fine, but everyone else is scared. So Jesus basically tells the storm to “Cool it!” And it does!
•    Raising the dead
Like He did with Lazarus and with Jairus’ daughter

Okay, so healing people, casting out demonic spirits, exercising control over nature, and raising the dead. Those are really four arbitrary categories for describing the miracles of Jesus, but they do show the full range of authority that Jesus has to perform miracles.

Oh, and if you think that was just for way back then and that Jesus isn’t in the miracle business today… well, a few things.

Why doesn’t Jesus Perform Miracles Today?

A.    Even in the Bible, miracles are sporadic.

They are clustered around specific times in history. There would be an outbreak of miracles, and then there’d be no miracles mentioned for hundreds of years. So even in Bible times, it’s not like miracles were an everyday occurrence. At least not in a high-profile way.

B.    Sometimes a miracle wouldn’t make any impact.

Secondly, if someone is really set against placing their faith in Jesus, even a miracle isn’t going to change their mind. So there’s no point in Jesus performing a miracle in those instances. In one of His parables, Jesus made this statement…

Luke 16:31 (NLT)
“‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

So maybe you don’t see miracles happening because there’s a lack of faith or a lack of openness to recognize the miracles when they do happen. And really, I think that happens a lot.

C.    We don’t recognize them when they do happen.

I think a lot of times a miracle happens, we just don’t recognize it as a miracle. We don’t understand that Jesus is behind it. How often do we pray about something, and then the problem gets resolved and we credit it to our own ingenuity? We think we figured it out all on our own.
Or we recover from a life-threatening illness, and we credit it to our doctors or our will to live.
Or we really need something to come together for us and then it does… and we call it a coincidence. Do you think maybe Jesus is doing a lot more behind the scenes than we give Him credit for? I think so. So maybe we don’t see more miracles happening because we’re blinded to them.

But finally…

D.    Actually, He DOES still perform miracles today.

I think the truth is Jesus does still perform miracles today. And you do experience them or you hear about them from time to time. The problem is, here in North America we’ve become so skeptical and so close-minded that we don’t recognize a miracle when we see one. And even Jesus mentioned that there were times He didn’t perform miracles because the people had a lack of faith…

Matthew 13:58 (NIV)
And [Jesus] did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

So maybe that explains why we don’t see more miracles here in North America today. But the truth is, Jesus is still at work in this world. Let me show you a video about a powerful miracle Jesus performed through a Wesleyan missionary team in Mozambique…

[VIDEO - http://wesleyan.org/gp/assets/videos/JFP_Telefina_07.mov]

So Jesus is still in the miracle business. Whether there’s not a lot of miracles, or whether we just don’t recognize them, that doesn’t negate the fact that there are some. Jesus is still exercising His power and authority over diseases and disabilities, over evil spirits, over nature, and over life and death.

But to really understand why they don’t happen more often, I think it would help for us to realize why the do happen. When He does perform a miracle, why does He do it then?

What Is The Purpose of Jesus’ Miracles?

Well, it’s obvious that most times when Jesus performs a miracle He’s addressing a specific need that someone has. That was true in Bible times and it’s true today. And that’s usually as far as we go in examining His motives. But if that were His primary motive, I think it would be fair for us to expect Him to perform a lot more miracles because there are a lot more needs. I’ve got needs, you’ve got needs, we’ve all got needs. And if Jesus performs miracles just to address specific needs, then how about those needs?

Well, could I suggest that there may be a deeper reason for Jesus’ miracles?

•    To validate the identity and the message of Jesus

And I think we see that in a couple different places in the Gospel of John…

John 20:30-31 (NLT)
The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Do you see it? We’re told about the life of Jesus, including His miracles, so that we will understand who He really is and will believe in His life-saving message.

The other verse is found right after the miracle we talked about earlier when Jesus turned the water into wine…

John 2:11 (NLT)
This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

So that very first miracle of Jesus served to validate His identity to the disciples and solidified His relationship with them. They believe Him and trusted Him after that miracle.

So His miracles are meant to validate His identity and His message. They reveal something about His character, and they serve to strengthen your faith in Him. So with that in mind, there are a couple questions I want to encourage you to ask when you read about one of His miracles… these are in your notes…

When reading about Jesus’ miracles, ask:

•    What does this miracle reveal about the person of Christ?
•    What does this miracle say to me today?

Miracles happen for a reason… in the Bible and in our world today. So when you read about one in the Bible or when you experience one or hear about one today, try to find out why. Figure out what Jesus is trying to communicate to you.

And can I also encourage you to begin to expect miracles to happen? I’m not the type of person who super-spiritualizes everything. Like when I roll up my rim and actually win something, I don’t credit it as an act of God (although maybe I should)… but when you have needs in your life, why not turn to Jesus as your first resort instead of your last? How about asking Him to step in? How about expecting Him to do something?

[If you’re reading this outside of Canada, there’s a coffee chain here called Tim Hortons that every year has a “Roll Up the Rim to Win” contest. You roll up the rim of your cup to reveal if you win a prize or not. Typically, I don’t…]

Think about it… what needs do we have? I’m sure we have plenty. Most of them are probably pretty small, but some of them would be biggies. Do you understand that Jesus cares about each and every one of them? Here, let me show you a few verses… In Luke 12 Jesus describes how valuable you are to God… and remember, He Himself is God…

Luke 12:6-7 (NLT)
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

Matthew 7:9-11 (NLT)
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

So the question I have for you this morning is simply this: have you told Jesus about your need? I wonder how many of us, myself included, try to fill all of our needs ourselves without ever involving Jesus. Sure, we may run to Him when our world is collapsing, our health is failing, our kids are headed in the wrong direction, our spouse wants nothing to do with God, our job is gone, or the ground beneath our feet is literally shaking…and we’ll cry for a miracle then, but do we ask Jesus to get involved in our everyday needs, and do we thank Him when He does?

Pray about your needs. And if the answer doesn’t come immediately… if a miracle doesn’t happen… then keep praying. The Old Testament Book of Daniel teaches us that sometimes the answer to our prayers is coming but is simply delayed. And Jesus Himself encourages us to be persistent in praying for our needs. He loves us, and He wants to help us. And many times, I think He’s all set to perform a miracle in our lives except we never ask Him or we give up on Him too quickly.

But understand this: Jesus wants us to trust in Him, not just so He can do some miracles in our life, but because He’s already performed the greatest miracle of all. He exchanged our hopelessness for hope. He exchanged our sinfulness with forgiveness. We were spiritually dead, and He raised us to life.

If you are a Christ-follower, then you’ve already experienced that incredible miracle. If not, then you can this morning. Choose to trust Him. Choose to place your faith in Him. Choose to follow Him from this moment on, and experience the miracle of rebirth that He has waiting for you.

Getting to Know Jesus, #6 - Miracles by Steven Buhr
Introduction to the Miracles of Jesus by John Hamby




Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2010 SunriseOnline.ca