Monday, April 27, 2009

The eight miracles record in the Gospel of John

I know this is a long post but I really wanted to post this one. For my Bibl 323 Book of John class I wrote this paper on the eight miracles recorded in the Gospel of John. This was a really cool study. If you ever want to do a great study that will really build your faith, study the eight miracles of John. I also highly recommend the book The Gospel of John: Believe and Live by Dr. Elmer Towns. This is a great commentary on the book of John. I would even recommend just reading the commentary or reading through the Gospel of John while readying the commentary. Here is a link to that book on www.christianbook.com http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=578128&netp_id=275200&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers

God bless and I hope you enjoy this paper.

Mike



John shows Jesus’ pre-existent state with God, His deity and essence, as well as His incarnation. One of the ways in which John shows Jesus’ deity is through the signs and miracles that Jesus did during His ministry. John based his entire account upon only eight signs or miracles (Courson, 2003). John’s gospel can be summed up in this verse: “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). The miracles that John wrote in his gospel showed the deity of Jesus Christ.

            The first miracle was turning the water into wine at Cana (John 2:1-11). At the beginning of chapter 2 in the book of John, Jesus and His disciples arrived at the wedding and Jesus’ mother is already there. “Little is known about the wedding itself” (Towns, 2002) but many scholars believe that Jesus knew either the bride or groom and somehow Mary was involved with the wedding. There are several different theories regarding what Mary wanted Jesus to do but He told her, “His hour had no yet come” (John 2:4). This could speak of several different things including His hour to be glorified or His hour to begin His miracles.

Regardless of why Mary asked Jesus to do something, Jesus ultimately turned the water into wine. He didn’t call the crowds, or do this miracle in front of the wedding guests. The people that witnessed this miracle were the servants who Mary instructed to do whatever Jesus tells them. Jesus’ first miracle is an act of creation just as Gen 1:1 started with creation. Jesus turned the water at the wedding into wine, which speaks of joy (Courson, 2003). Jesus ultimately starts His miracles with a symbol of Joy.

            The second miracle Jesus did was healed the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54). When Jesus entered Cana of Galilee, the people went to see Him because of the miracles that He had done (v45). The nobleman heard that Jesus was in town and went to Him so that He would heal his son (v46). Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe” (v48). While the Samaritans simply heard His word and believed (v42), “the Galileans needed miracles, signs, and wonders to believe” (Courson, 2003). The first expression of faith by the nobleman (v50) “was faith in the word of God, and the second expression of faith was in the incarnate Word of God” (Towns, 2002). This miracle was significant because Jesus showed he had power over space. He did not have to see the nobleman’s son to heal him but Jesus just had to speak the word. This would show those around Him that His power did not come from touch but He had absolute power of space. His power was not limited.

            The third miracle Jesus did was healing the lame man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-17). Jesus was going up to Jerusalem probably for the feast of Passover (v1). During this feast thousands of people went down to the pool of Bethesda because they believed this pool had healing powers. There were several who were lame who wanted to be heeled (v3). Jesus saw a certain man and knew he had been ill for 38 years (v6). Jesus asks this man, “do you wish to get well?” (v6). The sick man had no man to put him into the pool. This lame man made several statements that “suggests his hope had deteriorated” (Towns, 2008). 

            Jesus simply told this man, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk” (v8). Once Jesus spoke those words, the man immediately became well. Here we see “the Jews” questioning this man who was healed instead of rejoicing with him. This miracle starts two major themes in the book of John. The first is, “it records the beginning of the bitter hostilities of the Jews toward Christ” (Towns, 2002) and second, “this chapter includes the strongest arguments for the deity of Christ” (Towns 2002). This miracle shows that Jesus has power over time. This miracle was important to reveal Jesus’ deity because it showed the Jesus had the power to restore this man’s defect regardless of how long he had been lame. If the people around believed that this mans condition was due to sin, the people would think this man in a way heal him of his sin. Jesus comes and delivers a man in the place of competition and tradition, rules, and regulations (Courson, 2003).

            The fourth miracle was Jesus feeding the 5,000 (John 6:1-14). Apart from the resurrection, this is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels and the only miracle in John that is found in any other gospel (Towns, 2008). At the beginning of chapter 6, we see Jesus trying to get away to spend some time with His disciples to rest (Mark 6:31) but the multitudes followed Him. In fact, “the crowds were so constant He and His disciples found it difficult to find time even to eat together” (Towns, 2008). The multitudes followed Him “not so much because they wanted to be with Him, but because they were curious about Him” (Courson, 2003).

            The last miracle we see Jesus do a work in the lame man (singular) and now we are going to see Jesus do a work for the multitudes (plural); He is also working on His disciples (v5-9). Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” (v5). The following verse states the Jesus did that to test Philip but Jesus already knew what he was going to do before He even asked Philip. Philip was being analytical but Jesus was looking for a statement of faith. Andrew brought Jesus something that He could use, a lad who had five barley loaves and two fish (v8-9).

            Andrew could have brought this small amount of food remembering that Jesus took the water and made wine in Cana in Chapter 2 of John. Jesus used what little Andrew had brought to Him. As the disciples passed out the food, Jesus instructed them to give the crowds as much as they wanted. This is a good illustration for how God works; “He uses the most available resource at His disposal” (Towns, 2008). Jesus helped take care of their physical need but even after this, the crowd had their own agenda. The crowd wanted to make Him king. Not because they thought he was the Christ but a prophet (v14). The Jews wanted to take Jesus and have Him use His power against the governing Romans. They failed to realize their need was not for battling against the Romans but for the Christ.

            This miracle has some key factors to learn from. God does not just care for our spiritual need but he also takes care of our physical needs. The people were hungry and He allowed them to eat as much as they wanted. Jesus also made sure that none of the food was wasted but rather gathered up (v13). Jesus has the power over food. He can take what we have and use that. Jesus would later on say “I am the bread of life” (6:35).

            The fifth miracle is Jesus walking on water (John 6:15-21) and this miracle took place in the same 24hour period as the feeding of the five thousand. The people wanted to take a hold of Jesus and Jesus knowing this, withdrew by Himself to the mountain (v15). Quickly Jesus got His disciples in the boat and sent them to Bethsaida in Galilee (Towns, 2008). His disciples were obviously tired after feeding the 5,000 and started a slow journey across the sea. When it had become dark a storm had hit. In the middle of this storm, the disciples thought they saw something; it was Jesus walking on water. The disciples were at first afraid (v19) but Jesus spoke to them saying “It is I; do not be afraid” (v20).

            This story has several applications and reveals the deity of Jesus in several ways. Jesus not only was able to stop the storm but He is the creator of the storm. The disciples need was for Jesus. He has power over creation and the natural laws as we know them. The account of John states that when they received Him, they immediately were at land at their destination (v21). He calmed the storm. In the past miracles of turning water into wine, healing the lame man, and the feeding of the five thousands were good “tricks”. Jesus seems to be revealing His power starting with a miracle of Joy and by now revealing that His power is really endless. This Man has power over creation and He can be no other that deity (God).

            The sixth miracle is Jesus healing the man that was born blind (John 9:1-12). This miracle starts out by the disciples asking Jesus who sinned, this man or his parents (v1-2). This was a “foundational question of all suffering” (Courson, 2003). The “rabbi’s taught man could sin from the womb” (Courson, 2003), and a persons defect could be from other generations in the family. Jesus taught that this man’s defect was not due to sin but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him (v3). One of the next things Jesus stated is that while He is in the world, I am the Light of the world (v5). This is one of the eight “I am” statements in the book of John. Jesus was claiming to be the “I am” of the Old Testament. This is a claim to be the God of the Old Testament and no doubt angered the religious leaders.

            Jesus knew that sin did not blind this man since birth but rather “this man’s misery gives Me opportunity for ministry” (Courson, 2003). Jesus spit on the ground and made clay and applied it to this man’s eyes (v6). Then Jesus instructed him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. The healing power did not come from the spit, clay, or the washing from the pool. Jesus had healed other blind men by speaking the word or by touch. Spit was believed to have curative powers (Towns, 2002). Jesus might have use spit with dirt to create clay to show that He could use anything to heal a man. Jesus told this man to wash and the man obeyed without question. This miracle reveals that Jesus has power over physical laws. This healing of the blind man was different because Jesus used what they believed to have healing powers and showed them He could heal this man by touch, speaking the word, or with “spit”.

            The seventh miracle is the death and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45). Lazarus is sick and Jesus was going to use this to glorify God and that He would be glorified by it (v1-4). After Jesus heard about Lazarus He stayed two days longer where He was (v6). Jesus loved Lazarus (v5) and why did He not rush to the heal him? Jesus did not rush to heal Lazarus or speak the word yet was He would ultimately show His power and deity in a different way.

            When Jesus was on His way to see Lazarus, Martha went out to meet Him (v20) and Jesus told her that her brother will rise again (v23). As they talk, Jesus used this to declare another “I am” statement; Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (v25-26) She answered yes (v27). Jesus asks, “Where have you laid him?” (v34) and then Jesus wanted them to remove the stone to reveal the body of Lazarus (v39).

They didn’t want to remove the stone because his body was most likely decomposing and started to smell. An interesting irony in the account of the raising of Lazarus concerns attitudes towards Jesus’ timing (Towns, 2008).  Jesus’ timing was perfect; He would ultimately be glorified by it (v4,15, 25,40-42). Jesus then cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth” (v43).  Lazarus who had been dead four days had been resurrected from the dead. Jesus used Lazarus’s death to show He has power over death and Jesus even spoke one of the great “I am” statements in the bible; “I am the resurrection and the life” (v25). Jesus once again shows His deity and equality with the Father in Heaven; the “I am” of the Old Testament.

            The eighth miracle is the catching of fish (John 21:1-11). The disciple decided to go fishing on the Sea of Tiberias and there Jesus would appear to His disciples. They would not recognize Him at first but from the shore Jesus instructs them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. The disciples got a great number of fish, so many they could barely get the fish to the shore. This miracle shows that Jesus had power as He did in all the other miracles that John wrote about.

            The book of John shows Jesus is the “I am” of the Old Testament and it also shows the deity of Jesus. John 20:31 states: “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name”. John wrote his gospel to show the deity of Jesus and John was very selective in what he chose to record (Courson, 2003). John is able to show Jesus’ power over creation, space, time, food, natural laws, physical laws, death, and power over all!

 

 


Bibliography

Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publisher’s.

Towns, E. L. (2008). A Journey Through the New Testament. Mason: Cengage Learning

Towns, E. L. (2002). The Gospel of John: Believe and live. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers

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