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Welcome to week 2 of The Miracles of Jesus by Hampton Keathley IV, Th.M. and hosted by

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Monday (04/28/08) The First Draught of Fishes


A. Passage Selected: Luke 5:1-11

B. Progression Stated: Biographical or Ideological

It is biographical because it centers on the person of Peter who needs a lesson on fishing. This is ironic, because his profession was fishing. It is his boat, the conversation is with him. He is the central figure.

The basic idea of the miracle is “The Faith Needed for Fishing.”

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context

a. Remote

The relationship that Jesus has been developing with the disciples. There are five callings or challenges to the disciples:

*John 1:35-42 - the initial calling of some of the disciples.
*Mark 1: and Matt 4: - the invitation to committed discipleship
*Luke 5:1-11 - our passage
*Mark 3, Matt: 10 - The commission to ministry. He sends them out to the lost sheep of Israel
*Matt 28: - Great commission

So the backdrop is the authority of Jesus.

Isa 9:1-2 says Galilee would be where Christ would demonstrate His Messianic authority.

b. Immediate

The crowds are pressing in, so they move out to the water for some space. After He had finished teaching, He tells Peter to take the boat out into deeper water because he wants to teach Peter a lesson.

2. Content

a. Faltering faith - Peter’s impatience (5-7)

(1) Reaction

I don’t think so

(2) Response

Because you say so

(3) Reliance

I will do so

Peter catches himself in the middle of a bad response and changes to the right response. What does Peter respond to? The word of Jesus. “Because you say so...”

One application for us is what will we do because He says so?

Trench says that the best fishing in Galilee was before dawn. (p. 138). Also, Peter was a professional fisherman and Jesus was the son of a carpenter, so the initial response is understandable.

b. Fearful faith - Peter’s impression (8-10)

There is a fearful astonishment on the part of Peter. He gets a glimpse of who Jesus is and the result is a recognition of his own sinfulness. This is the proper response to the revelation of God. Cf. Isa 6:1

There are many passages which show the response of fear to the revelation of God. Gen 15:1, Ex 20:20, Josh 8:1, Isa 41:10. Matt 1:20, Luk 1:13, 30, 2:10, 5:10, 12:32, John 6:23, ... Here we see that when Jesus say “Fear not...” in verse 10, there is more to it than what we would first think. The claim inherent in Jesus’ statement is that He is God.

c. Fruitful faith - Peter’s imperative (10)

“You will be catchers of men.” It literally means, “to take alive.” The irony is that they have been catching live fish to put them to death. Now they will be catching dead men to give them life.

In that context, speaking to fishermen, Jesus said that they would be fishers of men. Today, talking to a computer programmer, He might have said they would be programmers of men. If they had been construction workers, He might have said they would be builders of men.

There is a guarantee of results in the passage. He did not say that they would try to catch men.

d. Following faith - The Disciples’ induction (11)

The left everything and followed Jesus. I don’t know if it would be stretching to make this comparison to modern day, but what if you had been playing the lotto for the past two years and Jesus came to you and said, “Try these numbers.” Wouldn’t your initial reaction be that it’s no use. I’ll never win. And then you give the numbers a try and win the lotto. Would you leave “everything” and follow Jesus? Or would you go collect your money and think about how you were going to spend it?


*Jesus illustrates his authority over people in calling them to ministry.
*Because of the privacy of the miracle (they had moved from the shore to deep water), we need to understand that this miracle has nothing to do with the multitudes. This is a discipleship miracle and the discipleship miracles deal with the development of the ministry skills or character of the disciples.
*Ps 8:6-8 says that God has authority over the sea creatures.
*The results of evangelism are ordained by Christ. Only by following Christ and having faith in his direction could the disciples become catchers of men.


*Does business failure disqualify you for ministry? Who do we usually put on our board of elders? Successful business men? The disciples had fished all night and caught nothing. That was a business failure. Christ used it to teach them a lesson. So, don’t be discouraged by failure. Learn from it. And don’t disqualify others because of business failure (unless of course it was because of dishonesty or something.)
*Don’t let human misunderstanding prevent obedience. Peter “knew” that it would be useless to throw the net over at that time.
*Allow God to determine the course as well as the result of my life. I think our job is to obey God and do our best, but we need to leave the results up to Him. If we try to take responsibility for the results, it will result in pride if there are good results or guilt if there are bad results.
*Beware that the pride of my ability may cloud my dependence on Christ. Peter was a professional fisherman. His initial reaction was that he knew more about fishing than Jesus.
*The clearer the revelation of God, the better the realization of my sinfulness. Ex 34, Isa 6, Jer 1, Dan 9
*Revelation precedes service. It is one type of motivation.
*Don’t ever lose the thrill at the grace of God who uses sinful men to accomplish His purposes.
*Obedience to the word of God brings blessing to the worker of God.
*2Co 12:9 - In our weakness, His strength is manifested.

Tuesday (04/29/08) Cleansing The leper


A. Passage Selected: Mark 1:40-45

Also in Matt 8:1-4

B. Progression Stated: Logical

Cause/effect relationship. The miracle is designed to gain a reaction among the priests.

C. Presentation Summarized:

One person outlined this as: A Bold Request, A Healing Caress, A Warning Transgressed

1. Context

a. Cultural background

Leprosy was especially bad because:

*it was repulsive to all who saw the person
*it was incurable by human means
*it was isolating - lepers were confined outside the city limits - many times to the city dump - probably because they could find food and other things there.
*it would cause you to become unclean ceremonially if you touched a leper (even if you didn’t catch the disease).
*it was the physical counterpart to the spiritual problem of sin. It was the model disease for sin. That is why when a leper is healed it is called a cleansing instead of a healing.
*When a leper was healed he was to go to the priest and be pronounced clean before reentering society.
*Not since Elisha healed Naaman the Syrian in 2 Kings 5: had someone been healed of leprosy.

b. Literary context

In Mark 1:38, after the disciples come to Jesus to tell Him that “Everyone is looking for him,” Jesus tells them that He came here to preach. There will be something that happens in the miracle that will relate back to this. So, don’t forget this statement.

This miracle follows the sermon on the mount in Matthew’s gospel. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus had said in Matt 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” Then right after the sermon, a leper comes up to Jesus and He touches him, which is a violation of the Law. Perhaps that is significant.

2. Cause of the miracle 1:40-42

a. The trust of the leper (40)

Ray Stedman has some very good observations on this passage:

I think this indicates something of an awareness on the leper’s part of a divine purpose there may have been in his affliction. It may perhaps be difficult for some of us to handle the concept, but the Scriptures are very clear that sometimes God wills us to be sick. Not that this is the expression of his ultimate desire for men, but that, given the circumstances in which we now live and the fallen nature of humanity, there are times when God wills for his children to pass through physical affliction. You see numerous examples of this in the Scriptures. Paul came before the Lord and asked three times for the removal of a physical “thorn in the flesh”. Finally the answer came, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Paul understood that God wanted him to put up with it, learn how to handle it by the grace of God. So it is clear that it is not the teaching of Scripture that everybody must be healed.

This leper is a case in point. Evidently he sensed some purpose in this, and when he said, “If you will, you can make me clean,” he did not mean by that, “If you’re in a good mood at present...” He meant, rather, “If it is not out of line with the purpose of God, if it is not violating some cosmic program God is working out, then you can make me clean."

He does not doubt Jesus’ power, and he submits to His will. He submits to the person of God. We need to do the same. We are to know God can do whatever He wants and trust Him. If He is willing, He will. We just have to trust in the goodness of God.

The leper models a humble approach and makes a humble request. This is actually the language of worship - bowing down, kneeling, etc. Jesus accepts it.

b. The touch of the Lord (41-42)

Verse 41 says, “Moved with compasstion…” There is a textual variant here. Some manuscripts have “moved with anger” instead of “moved with compassion.” (splagne or orgisthes) If he was angry, it was not at the leper. Splagna is the bowels. The verb means to “move the bowels.” And it came to mean “to move with compassion.” You might say that to not have compassion equals “spiritual constipation.”

Jesus says, “I am willing, be cleansed.” Going back to what Stedman said, Jesus’ statement, “I am willing” is like a green light from God. It says the time has come for the healing to occur. Whatever purpose the leprosy may have served, it has been accomplished, and the time was come to set it aside.

He reached out his hand and touched the leper. Jesus doesn’t always lay hands on those that He is healing. When He does, we ought to ask if it has significance. What is the significance here? Were you supposed to touch a leper? No. That would make you unclean. Haggai 2: talks about becoming unclean by touching something unclean. If a doctor scrubs down, puts on his gown and gloves and then shakes hands with someone on the way to the operating room, does he make the other person sterile? Of course not.

The only way you can touch someone or something unclean and not become unclean yourself is if you make the other person or thing clean. You can’t both stay the same. There is only one person who can transfer cleanness. God. When Jesus touched the leper and healed the leper, he was making another claim to deity.

3. Consequences of the miracle 1:43-45

a. Obedience desired (43-44)

Jesus told the former leper to “tell no man and show himself to the priest.” He wanted the man to keep his healing a secret. Scholars often talk about something called the “Messianic Secret” in the Gospel of Mark. The liberal German scholars said Jesus didn’t want people he healed to tell others that He was the Messiah, because Jesus knew He really wasn’t the Messiah. That is ludicrous. But if that is not the reason, then why does He often tell people not to say anything?

I think there are a couple reasons: First, from the context (cf vs. 38) we know that Jesus’ primary purpose was to preach. He didn’t want the crowds clamoring to Him to be healed. He wanted them to come to hear His words. If word got out about the healing of a leper, it would distract from his main purpose. A second reason that Jesus didn’t want them to go around proclaiming that He was the Messiah was because their expectation of the Messiah was that the Messiah was a political deliverer. The Jews wanted someone who would free them from the Roman rule and set up a political kingdom. During this advent Jesus’ role was as a Suffering Messiah who came to serve and to die. He was going to set up a spiritual kingdom. So, Jesus didn’t want to use the misunderstood title and substituted other titles for Himself such as “Son of Man.” As a matter of fact, He’ll use that title in our next miracle.

b. Disobedience demonstrated (45)

It is hard to believe that that someone who benefits from a miraculous healing by Jesus would turn right around and disobey Him. But this man did just that. Ryrie and Stedman both say that the man didn’t go show himself to the priests. We don’t know for sure if the man told the priests because the text doesn’t say that he did or didn’t. I think that he probably did obey the first half of the command (to show himself to the priest). We have to remember that he had been an outcast. If he wanted to re-enter society, he would have had to go to the priests to be pronounced clean so he could re-enter the community. We do know for sure that he doesn’t remain silent. Perhaps he was too excited. You might call it “impulsive proclamation.”

The disobedience is deplorable because it hindered the ministry of the Lord. So many people were coming to Him to be healed that He couldn’t do what He really wanted to do, which was to preach (cf. vs 38). He knew that this would happen. That’s why He told the leper to be silent.


A. The purpose of going to the priest was to announce to the priests that the Messiah was present.

This is the stated purpose for the miracle in Mark 1:44. Leprosy was incurable by human ability, so the priests should have recognized the healing of the leper as a sign that Messiah was present. This is an announcement to the priests that the Messiah is here. Does this contradict what we talked about earlier concerning the people looking for a political Messiah? No. The priests should have been looking for a Savior Messiah, that is why Jesus didn’t mind them knowing about the cleansing of the leper.

In Matt 11:5 John’s disciples are questioning Jesus to see if He is the Messiah. Jesus quotes from Isa 35. Jesus’ response to John the Baptist is look at my works. They fulfill the prophecies.

Healing lepers was one of the signs. Also cf. Luke 7:22.

B. The purpose for the disciples was to model the compassion of the Savior for those who were normally outcast.

They were to do likewise.

C. The purpose for the individual

1. Physical healing

2. Restoration into the community

Sending the ex-leper to the priests was as much for the man’s benefit as it was a sign for the priests.

3. Spiritual awakening to who Jesus was.

Jesus responded to the man’s faith and healed him. If there were any doubts in the man as to the identity of Jesus, they were erased.

D. The impulsive proclamation of the man hindered the testimony and work of God.

Remember in Mark 1:38 that Jesus said He came here to preach. That was His primary purpose at that point in His ministry. When the man disobeyed, He forced Jesus to go to a different place to preach where He was not so well known.


*Genuine compassion has no limits. True compassion reaches even to the lowest level. Compassion is always necessary when working with people because we all fail. We make terrible mistakes, commit terrible sins, etc. It is our natural inclination and the easiest to move toward contempt of the down and outers (like the Pharisees did). But we need to move toward compassion, like Jesus did. When we don’t have compassion, it is because we think that we are better than others. We think that they are in their situation because of some fault of their own and we wouldn’t have done whatever it was that got them in that position. So, if we don’t have compassion, the reason may be pride.
*The leper said, “If you are willing … “ We need to recognize that God has the ability to heal (or do whatever), but we also need to recognize that He has the right not to do anything. We need to recognize that we don’t know what is best. He does. Some people in the Charismatic movement claim that God always wants to heal us. But Jesus does not correct the leper when he says, “If you are willing …”
*Sometimes it is easier to believe in God’s power more than His mercy. Sometimes we don’t believe he wants to heal us. If I can make a generalization: Charismatics go to far in one direction (claiming that God always wants to heal us) and Cessationists go to far in the other direction (often not really believing that God wants to heal us.)
*Jesus not only has the ability to save, He has the authority to command. Therefore, we learn about Jesus’ power as well as his authority.
*Faith needs to be followed by obedience. It is not enough to be just cured or cleansed. The spiritual parallel is that it is not enough to be saved.
*Obedience is preferred over impulse.
*Disobedience hinders God’s work.

Wednesday (04/30/08) Healing the Paralytic


A. Passage Selected: Mark 2:1-12

It’s the longest. Also found in Matt 9:2-8 and Luke 5:17-26

B. Progression Stated: Logical

Jesus uses a question of logic as part of the miracle. “Which is easier to say....”

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context of the miracle 2:1-3

a. Back in Capernaum

He called Capernaum home because his hometown rejected him.

b. Mixed crowd of followers and foes including Pharisees (cf. Luke).

This is the first mention of the Pharisees observing Jesus’ ministry in Luke. Mark will mention them in the next section following this miracle. Matthew will also mention them in 9:9-13 just after his record of this miracle. “The Pharisees were a nonpriestly or lay separatist movement whose goal was to keep the nation faithful to Mosaic faith. In order to do this, they had a very developed tradition that gave rulings on how the law applied to a variety of possible situations not addressed directly by Scripture.” They had rules for every possible situation and Jesus kept violating those rules. That is why there was so much conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.

The point of the Pharisees showing up is that word of Jesus’ ministry had spread to the point where the Pharisees are curious and are showing up to check Him out.

c. Knowledge of Mid Eastern house is important.

Critics use this miracle to show conflicts in the Bible. Mark says “digging through.” Luke says “they removed tiles.” Matthew doesn’t say. Is there a conflict? Some say the reason for the difference is that Luke could have used a Gentile word to describe the scene to a Gentile audience. It’s like if I said, “They pulled the shingles off ...” This is possible, but not necessary. The way houses were built was with wood for truss support, then a layer of reeds on top of the trusses and clay on top of the reeds. The word keravmwn (keravmwn) translated “tiles” in Luke also means “clay” and Luke is probably just using a word that describes the material and its function at the same time.

2. Content of the miracle 2:4-5

a. The persistence of the men (4)

“When Jesus saw their faith” Their faith is demonstrated by their creativity, boldness and persistence to open the roof. They allowed nothing to stop them.

Ryrie points out several things about Faith from this passage:

*Faith works - The men expended great effort to help their friend.
*Faith persists - They didn’t let personal inconvenience stop them.
*Faith succeeds - Their faith was rewarded. The man was healed.

b. The power of the Lord (5)

Luke mentions that Jesus was filled with the power to heal. Why is Luke telling us that? Luke is stressing that Jesus is a God empowered man. He is filled and led by the HS.

He says, “your sins are forgiven.” He simply makes a statement. The authority and power of Jesus’ word is demonstrated.

I don’t think this necessarily means that the man’s paralysis resulted from personal sin. I think it is just that Jesus recognized that the man’s greatest need was spiritual and not physical. And, He wanted to shake up the categories of the Pharisees who were present.

3. Consequence of the miracle 2:6-12

a. The opposition (6-7)

Jesus says “your sins are forgiven.” This blows the categories off the Pharisees. Only God can forgive sins. They think this is blasphemy.

You could commit blasphemy by:

*denying one of the attributes of God.
*adding attributes God does not possess (he’s fickle).
*making yourself on par with God. (This is what Jesus is claiming.)

Jesus knew what they were thinking. We think “of course he knew,” but what about them. Were they also asking themselves, “How does he know what I’m thinking?” Who knows the heart? God knows the heart. Forget the miracle for a minute...He knows what I’m thinking! Even while the miracle is taking place there are other things happening that give proof that Jesus is God.

b. The proposition (8-10)

Which is easier to say?

Some try to argue that it is easier to say one or the other based on the number of words in each sentence. That is unlikely. More likely is the logical or theological argument behind each statement. What do you think is easier to say?

*To SAY, “your sins are forgiven” is easier because no one can tell if it happened or not. You can’t validate it. This could be applied to all the false religions which claim that their way is the right way to God. They claim that their system will get you to heaven, and their followers won’t know until it is too late.
*Therefore, he then heals the man, which is the visible task, to prove that he can forgive sins too.
Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man” which is His favorite name for Himself. Perhaps because it stresses His humanity. Perhaps it is because the term is vague enough that it forces people to make up their minds about Him. Is he “a man” or “the Man?” This also fits with the Messianic secret idea that we discussed in the last miracle. Jesus doesn’t want to claim too clearly that He is the Messiah, because He wasn’t the political Messiah that they were looking for. If you were looking for a spiritual Messiah, then you would recognize that He was that.

Here he is saying I’m a human who has the divine authority to forgive sins. Later He will claim to be the Son of Man who is Lord of the Sabbath. This title becomes a title of the Messianic combination of God in the flesh.

c. The healing itself (11-12)

The healing is visible to all and they were amazed. But again, I must point out that amazement doesn’t equal belief.


*This is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. Up to this point, the healings were merely physical. Now we see that the physical healings really point to a deeper spiritual reality which is the ultimate healing - the forgiveness of sins. The last miracle, the cleansing of the leper, pointed to this because leprosy was the model disease for the problem of sin. But here we have the forgiveness idea directly stated.
*There is an emphasis in the miracle on the fact that Jesus is both God and man. The phrase “Son of Man” and the mention of Jesus being filled with the Spirit emphasize His humanity. The fact that He forgives the man’s sins emphasizes His deity.
*The miracle is a means to an end - not the end itself. It teaches us something about the person of Christ. He can forgive our sins.


*This miracle teaches us of the privilege of intercession. The friends interceded on the man’s behalf. They were instruments of healing.
*We see the importance of unity and teamwork. One or two friends could not have accomplished this on their own. “It is costly, however, to have Christian unity. In order for the four men in Mark 2 to get together to bring this paralytic to Jesus, they had to consent to go in the same direction. Otherwise they would not have succeeded. Then they had to consent to go at the same speed, and to the same place. Unity is costly for it means submitting to each other.” Perhaps that is the significance of the the statement “When Jesus saw their faith…”
*We see creativity in serving others and in bringing others to Christ.
*Jesus handled the interruption without complaining. How do we handle interruptions?
*Jesus can forgive our sins without healing us. In the last miracle we saw that the leper recognized that it is not always God’s will that we be healed. Here we see that spiritual healing is separate from physical healing. Although we have said this before, in light of the teaching of some that God always wants to heal, I think it needs to be said again.
*Just to see a miracle doesn’t mean you believe in the one who can do miracles. Verse 12 says they were all amazed...but they didn’t believe.
*Sometimes God acts in a person’s life because of another’s faith. It might be the faith of a grandmother or a neighbor who prays that causes God to work in a person to bring them to Christ.

The miracle is designed to teach us something about the person of Christ. He makes an overt claim that He is God and confirms His message through an activity. In other words, the message is authenticated by the miracle. So that you know that what I’m saying is true (your sins are forgiven, (I.e. I’m God), I will perform a miracle.

Thursday (05/01/08) Healing the Man at Bethesda


A. Passage Selected: John 5:1-15

B. Progression Stated: Logical

We see a miracle and then much emphasis on the results of the miracle. So there is a cause effect relationship.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context of the miracle 5:1-5

a. Feast of Israel

This is another Sabbath miracle. I think Jesus works on the Sabbath on purpose. He is forcing the issue that the religious leaders were missing the original purpose of the Sabbath and that He is Lord over the Sabbath. In the other Gospels, there will be a number of Sabbath controversies following this miracle.

The Feast of Pentecost, Passover and Tabernacles obligated all males to attend. Perhaps it was one of these feasts. It might have been Passover, but some doubt that because it would have been too cold for people to be lying around the pool. Probably not the Feast of Tabernacles because that is the backdrop of chapter 9. That leaves us with the Feast of Pentecost as the probable setting.

John sets this miracle up almost like some movie introductions where the camera starts off with a view of the NY city skyline, then moves in closer to the city, amidst the buildings, into a crowd of people and then focuses on the main character.

Here we see the occasion is a feast, in Jerusalem, near the sheep gate, at the pool of Bethesda, near the colonnades, amidst the multitudes, with a number of disabled and finally he focuses on a man who had been sick for 38 years.

b. Focus on Individual

Jesus focuses on one man out of a whole crowd of people who are all there for the same purpose. He does not heal the whole crowd. He heals just one. Why?

*Some suggest it is because this man is the only one who had given up all hope of ever getting into the pool. This man had been sick 38 years. I wonder how many other experiments this man had tried to get healed. He was ready to hope in something else. If that is true, it is analagous to the principle that people have to recognize they are lost before they are ready to trust in Christ. But, what is very evident in this miracle story, is that this man didn’t even know who Jesus was and so his faith was not involved.
*Perhaps the lesson is that God’s sovereignty, plan and purpose are bigger than human need. It is not limited by human infirmity. Just because he heals only one person does not make him unjust.

If it was true then, is it true today? A lot of people say, “If God did this for them, then why doesn’t he do this for me?” Why doesn’t God heal my cancer or my mother’s cancer, he healed theirs....

Older literature called this man the “impotent man.” That word has sexual connotations in our day, so it might be better to say the “infirm man.” If we put “The Healing of the Impotent Man” on our marquee in front of the church, we might draw a larger crowd though.

c. Factuality of the pool (5:3-4)

These pools were just discovered by archaeologists in the early 1960’s. This is just another example of how archaeology continues to affirm the factuality of scripture.

What were the sick people waiting for? They were waiting for an angel to come and stir the waters. Some manuscripts leave this out. That is why your bible has square brackets around this section. Perhaps they left this out because it wasn’t true that an angel came and stirred the waters. In our day, people believe that the waters of Hot Springs will heal them because someone claimed to have been healed there. Where the tradition came from in our passage we don’t know. Someone may have been healed there or just claimed to have been. It doesn’t really matter if it is true or not because the sick people believed it anyway (7). John is not saying it is true or not. He’s just telling us why these people hung out at this pool.

I think it is interesting to note that the solution to the man’s problem was Jesus, but he couldn’t see it. He was focused on getting to the pool. He wanted to use Jesus to help him get to the pool. He wasn’t looking to Jesus for the healing.

I think there are a couple of applications we can make from verse 7.

*Just like this man had used his resources for 38 years to get well, we usually depend on our own resources to solve our problems. When they don’t work, we despair.
*Sometimes we do turn to God, but with the wrong goal in mind. Just like this man who wanted Jesus to help him get down to the pool, I think we often look to God to give us what we think we need, when in fact, what we need it God, himself. If I’m depressed over my finances, I want God to give me a better job, help me win the lotto or whatever, when I really need to just depend on God and let Him work out the details. If I’m depressed over a bad relationship or marriage, I want God to change the other person, when maybe I’m the one that needs to change or at least learn to depend on God for the fulfillment that no human can possibly give.

2. Cause of the miracle 5:6-9

a. The sympathy of the day (6-7)

Jesus asks the question “Do you want to get well?” Perhaps we could paraphrase it, “Do you want help from me?” The man just wants to get to the water. He doesn’t realize who Jesus is and what Jesus can do.

b. The sign of the day (8-9)

“Pick up you mat and walk” is the statement of healing. That he does it is the sign of the healing. What I think is very important and applicable for us is that when Jesus gives a command, He also gives the enablement to carry out the command. If we see a command in Scripture that we are to follow, we don’t do it by our own power. We do it through the power that God supplies.

3. Consequence of the miracle 5:10-15

a. For the Jews (10-12)

They are upset because of their over concern for the Sabbath. Although there were 613 commands in the OT, they had added prohibitions to the law as a hedge around the law so that people would not break the law.

It is important to understand that their “hedge” commands were not really a hedge at all. They were designed to allow the Jews to break all the 10 commandments. I’m sure they would deny this and perhaps they didn’t do it intentionally, but because of their natural evil human nature, they had ways of getting around all the commandments. For example: they could swear on the door of the temple and that was not binding but to swear on the doorknob of the temple was. That allowed them to get around the command to not bear false witness. They had very liberal divorce laws which allowed them to get around the command not to commit adultery. They just got divorced, married the one they wanted to be with and then divorced her when they found someone new (cf. Matt 5:32). The sermon on the mount goes through this in detail.

They set up 39 prohibitions to supposedly protect the Sabbath. #39 was that you can’t carry your bed on the Sabbath. Jesus goes right for that to challenge the tradition. In reality, their Sabbath prohibitions kept them from bringing rest to mankind as the Sabbath was originally intended. Jesus was going to bring rest to this man who had been sick for 38 years.

b. For the man (13-15)

This man had no faith. He didn’t even know who Jesus was. This account destroys the idea that miracles are always the consequence of faith. Later we will see that raising a dead person is also not the result of the person’s faith. Only a few of the 35 miracles were the consequence of faith.

Vs 14 makes me think that sin was probably the cause of his ailment. This is the only miracle when someone is told this. This tells me that we need to be real careful not to jump to any conclusions about the cause of someone’s sickness. There are certain Christian groups that attribute most sickness to sin. I think that is wrong and dangerous. It is dangerous because those that believe that, logically believe that if they stop sinning, they will get well. If they don’t get well, then they can only conclude that they haven’t figured out which sin it is that caused this.

Jesus says, “Don’t sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you.” What could be worse than 38 years of sickness? Perhaps he is referring to Hell. That would fit the following context of John 5:29.

Why is the man in the temple? Perhaps he is now a believer. Perhaps the fact that Jesus commands him to stop sinning is an indication that he is now saved/a believer because unbelievers do not have the capability to not sin anymore. Others take this command to be a message of conviction. Perhaps Jesus warning of worse consequences is designed to convict him further.

Vs 15. Why does the man go tell the Jews? He had to have known that they were angry at Jesus because of what they said in verses 10-12.

c. For Jesus (16)

Persecution - they plan to kill him. Because of their Sabbath traditions, they missed the Savior.

After this, Jesus goes into a major discourse on His equality with God. As always, the signs are given to validate a sermon that was just given or about to be given.

The Jews knew that God did not cease to work on the Sabbath. People were born and people died on the Sabbath, and that was from God because He gives life and causes death. When Jesus says My Father is working now (on the Sabbath) and I am working, it is an obvious claim to deity.


*Jesus’ answer in vs. 18 is that he is doing his Father’s work and has the prerogative of working on the Sabbath just as God does because he is equal with God. Just because God rested on the 7th day of creation to set the tone for the Sabbath, doesn’t mean he always rests on the Sabbath. In fact the Bible says, that God doesn’t sleep. If you are a priest in the OT, you better hope God is not asleep on the Sabbath.
*Jesus is showing the Jewish tradition to be invalid by commanding the man to carry his pallet on the Sabbath. It is OK when truth challenges tradition.
*There is kingdom imagery in this miracle. Isa 35:5 speaks of the blind seeing and the lame walking. This was another sign that the Messiah was present. The Sabbath rest was itself a foreshadow of the ultimate rest of the future kingdom. When Jesus heals on the Sabbath, He is saying the Messiah is here and the Kingdom is at hand. In the following context 5:19-25 we see realized eschatology and then in 26-30 future or final eschatology.


*Jesus has the sovereign choice to deal with one out of a crowd. Just because God heals others, does not mean He will heal me or someone I know.
*One’s eternal destiny is more important than one’s temporal disability. To some -- The healing of disease is more important than evangelism. I think that some of the television healers are a good example.
*Sickness is sometimes the cause of sin, but not always.
*We carry out the commands of God by the power which God supplies.
*Genuine gratitude should be demonstrated by holy living.
*There is a danger of missing the work of God if I’m trusting in my traditions. The Pharisees’ traditions said you couldn’t do any work on the Sabbath, so they missed it when God worked on the Sabbath. What kind of traditions do we have that might blind us to God’s work? I think Cessationists (which includes me) need to be careful of this one. Our tradition says that sign gifts have died out. Unfortunately, this causes many Cessationists to conclude that God doesn’t work supernaturally. This is what it means to put God in a box.

Friday (05/02/08) Withered Hands and Hardened Hearts


A. Passage Selected: Luke 6:6-11

Also in Matt 12:9-13 and Mark 3:1-5

B. Progression Stated: Biographical and Logical

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context: Sabbath controversies

In Luke 4:19 Jesus read from Isaiah 61 which says that the Messiah would preach the gospel to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, heal the blind, set free those who are downtrodden and proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. After Jesus read this, he sat down and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In some ways this passage is a purpose or mission statement for Jesus. In the following chapters of Luke we see him focused on preaching the gospel (Luke 4:43) setting free the captives (those demon possessed are liberated) bringing relief to the downtrodden through several miracles and we see Him working on the Sabbath on several occasions. The Sabbath controversies are important and often overlooked. When Jesus reads the statement “to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,” and then in the next moment says that this is fulfilled, I think He is stating that He is the Sabbath rest. The Favorable Year of the Lord was the year of Jubilee which was the 50th year. It was the Sabbath of Sabbaths. Jesus is stating that He is the fulfillment of the Sabbath and ultimate rest is found in Him. So He goes around violating the rules of the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath to show that He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath, as they know it, is over. But notice that it is always in a context where Jesus is providing for someone’s needs – whether hunger or disease, etc. He is bringing relief and rest to the people.

He has just healed the man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. Then he is picking grain on the Sabbath on the way through a field. According to the OT, it was OK to pick some grain as you passed through someone’s field. What the Pharisees were concerned with was that He was doing it on the Sabbath. Jesus defended what the disciples were doing was not sinful with examples from OT.

*David ate the shewbread in the temple, and that was OK, because the rule not to eat the shewbread was not more important than the starvation of humans.
*Priests work hardest on Sabbath. (Matt 12:5)
*In Matt 12:7, the parallel passage, Hos 6:6 is quoted. God does not want ritual service without the heart. And the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man and not vice-versa. The Pharisees made the Sabbath more important than humanity. Humans were serving the Sabbath. It was a burden to them. The Sabbath was supposed to serve mankind and be a benefit to them.
*He tells them in Luke 6:5 that the son of man has authority over the Sabbath. He is making another claim to deity. Since He is God and He is the one who made the Sabbath, He can override their traditions and use the Sabbath as He originally intended.

2. Content

a. The introduction 6:6-7a
“. . . another Sabbath” connects to the previous Sabbath controversies.
Check out Deffinbaugh’s lesson 18 in the Luke series for details on the Sabbath observances. (On Eating Drinking and Being Merry (Luke 5:27-39))

b. The inquisition of the leaders 6:7-9

(1) Their purpose: to test him

Some raise the question as to whether or not it was permissible for a disabled man to be in the synagogue. We know that he could not go to the temple, we are not sure about synagogue tradition. Perhaps this man was a plant by the leaders to trap Jesus. It says they were watching to see if Jesus was going to heal “him.” They are trying to find something with which they can accuse Him. This shows us two things:

*This demonstrates the Pharisees lack of concern for the sick man. They knew Jesus could heal people but they were more concerned with getting rid of Jesus than they were concerned for the welfare of the sick man.
*It also shows us that they were not at the synagogue to worship God.

We’ve already discussed the preceding context where Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 to them, saying that God desired compassion more than sacrifice or ritual. The point of Hosea is God wan’t us to worship Him and love people. The Pharisees did neither.

(2) His purpose: to silence them

In the Matthew passage (Matt 12:11) He gives an illustration about a sheep in a pit to show that doing good on the Sabbath is OK. Doing what is right is OK. That is the issue. It also shows us that it is wrong to do nothing when you have the ability to do something.

What does Jesus’ argument assume? It assumes that people are more important than animals. Jesus indicts them on the issue of the value of people over animals. God prescribed animal sacrifice as the substitute for men. By the time of the NT, there was such a perversion of human value, animals were more valuable than people. Is that not true in our society? We save spotted owl eggs but abort millions of babies a year. We stop our cars and carry a turtle across the road and then go kill someone for a car stereo or a pair of tennis shoes. It is obvious from the Bible which is more valuable, but since our society no longer considers the Bible the authority, everything is relative and we have no argument with the animal rights activists.

In Matt 6:26 and 10:31, Matthew also deals with this issue of the superior value of humans over animals.

c. The impasse of the leaders 6:9

Jesus asks them if it is lawful to save life or destroy life on the Sabbath. What is the irony with the statement?

He is trying to save life and they are trying to destroy life (His to be precise.) Perhaps that is why they remain silent (cf. Mark 3:4). He is setting them up because after this they are furious and go out to plan his death.

d. The instructions to the leaders 6:9-10

(1) His answer to them

It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. They won’t answer Him, so He takes the initiative. He states that it is OK to do good (cf. Matt 12:12).

(2) His anguish over them

He was disappointed, righteously angry, etc. (cf. Mark account) over their hard hearts. Although I’m sure He had compassion on the man with the withered hand, this miracle is partly motivated by anger against the Pharisees.

e. The illustration to the leaders 6:10-11

(1) His action

He cures him. Ironically all he does is speak. He is not really working on the Sabbath. Can’t He just talk? The main point is that his word is powerful and sufficient.

(2) Their antagonism

Although He does not lift a hand to work and does not break the Sabbath, the leaders are enraged anyway and get together with the Herodians (the enemy) cf Mark 3:6 … on the Sabbath … to plot a murder … of someone who just performed a good deed. The obviously didn’t learn anything from Jesus’ question as to whether it was legal to save life or destroy it. This shows the absolute irrationality and insidiousness of sin and its blindness.


(1) The occurrence of the miracle on the Sabbath is important. We learn :

*That Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. If He is Lord over the Sabbath, then He is Lord over the whole law because the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant.
*From the context we learn that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Sabbath and that we find rest in Him.
*We learn what the Sabbath is for. It is for people. It is for them to find rest. It is not there to make life difficult for people.

(2) Jesus is throwing down the gauntlet challenging the Pharisees. He is confronting them and exposing their misunderstanding of the law. They misunderstood the sign of the law and in reality, they misunderstood the whole law. The Sermon on the mount exposed them in detail. The leaders don’t have a clue and He silences them.

(3) Missing the purpose of the law caused them to miss the Lord.


*Heart righteousness is to be preferred over hand ritual. Hosea 6:6
*Humans are more valuable than animals. It is amazing that we have to point this out in our day and age. But it is not a new phenomenon. Animals were put into the law as a substitute for men, but they were at the point where animals were more important than humans.
*Personal bias can keep someone from understanding the word. Again we see the emphasis on the fact that tradition blinded men to the truth. We need to be sure we are not guilty of the same.
*What makes God angry? Hard heart, lack of compassion for others... Do I make God angry?
*No day is too holy to do right for God.
*Jesus’ freedom in observing the Sabbath illustrates our freedom in Christ. Our tendency is towards legalism—to set up rules like don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t go to movies, etc., but we are free to make good decisions about when and how we do all those things.

Welcome to the first week of The Miracles of Jesus by Hampton Keathley IV , Th.M. and hosted by

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:-) Christina

Monday (4/21/08) Introduction to the Miracles of Jesus

When something amazing happens, we often say, “It’s a miracle!” But more than likely that is not technically correct. It was not a true miracle. It was amazing, it was abnormal, etc., but was it a miracle?

What is a miracle?

(1) A scientist gave the following definition of a miracle on an April 14, 1995 PBS program. He said, “A miracle is nothing more than a natural law not discovered.” So, he doesn’t believe in miracles. He thinks everything can be explained scientifically. This is an attitude which at the least denies any intervention into our world by God, and more than likely means that scientist denies the existence of God. I don’t see how raising someone from the dead, restoring a blind man’s sight, etc. are natural laws not yet discovered. This is obviously a bad definition. The fact that anyone would take this guy seriously is a sad commentary on our society.

(2) A computer magazine had the following definition in its word-for-the-day section: “Coincidence is a miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous.” In other words, there is no such thing as coincidence. This elevates almost everything to the status of being a miracle. I would have to go along with the idea that there is no such thing as coincidence or chance. If there is such a thing as chance, then God has an equal out there in the universe, against which He is competing. Think about that statement for a minute. If there is such a thing as chance, then God has an equal out there in the universe that He is competing against. In other words, God is not in control. So, although I think that God is control and is involved in our lives, does that mean that these events are miracles? No.

These two illustrations represent opposite extremes. The truth is somewhere in the middle. What is a miracle?


If we look at the words the New Testament uses for miracles we see the following:

(1) It is an act of a supernatural being. The word dunamis has the idea of a supernatural power. It speaks primarily of the agent of the act. That power may be delegated to a human agent. The question is where did Jesus’ power to do the miracle come from. There are two options - either from God or from Satan. Obviously, Jesus’ power came from God. Some suggest that Satan only imitates miracles. I think Satan can perform miracles. He does not have divine power, but he does have supernatural power. So the idea from the word dunamis is that there is supernatural power involved.

(2) Another word - terasa - speaks of the effect. A miracle is an unusual event. Terasa speaks of the wonderment of the event – as in signs and wonders. As a matter of fact, terasa is always used with semeion.

(3) The Greek word semeion means sign. A miracle is a significant event. It has purpose. Matthew, Mark and Luke uses the first two more. John uses the word semion, because he is focused on the purpose of Jesus in performing the miracles.

(4) Therefore, in our search for a definition, if we combine the ideas of these words used in the New Testament, we might come up with the following definition:

Definition: A miracle is an unusual and significant event (terasa) which requires the working of a supernatural agent (dunamis) and is performed for the purpose of authenticating the message or the messenger (semeion).

I don’t want to imply that God can’t do a miracle without a miracle worker or that He can only do miracles when He needs to authenticate His message. But, examination of Old Testament and New Testament miracles shows that when a human is the agent performing a miracle, the purpose is authentication of the person and his message. For example: Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Apostles… That is the norm. It is a little oxymoronic to use the words norm and miracles in the same sentence, but I think it is important to establish what the norm is if possible because of what various people teach concerning miracles.


Many people go to the Bible looking primarily for theological statements or propositional statements—statements that tell us what not to do, what to do, what to think, etc. Historically, Americans pastors and theologians have spent little time teaching or preaching the Gospels. Americans are practical, bottom line people and the Pauline and General epistles are easier to dig practical principles out of. They don’t typically know what to do with the Gospels because the Gospels are not very propositional. They are really a collection of small stories arranged to tell a bigger story about the life of Christ. The accounts of the miracles Jesus performed are contained in stories, and stories have context, characters, plot, climax, etc. Stories are literature, and in order to understand them, we need to look at the miracles literarily.

We will study the miracles following the usual steps of observation, interpretation and application, but since the miracles are stories, we will need to look at things like plot, character development, etc. to understand them fully.

A. Observation

1. Passage
We need to determine which gospel or gospels record the miracle? Sometimes it is difficult to tell if two Gospels are telling the same miracle or if they are just similar miracles. If we decide that they are the same event, which is the longest account of the miracle? That is the one we will use primarily for the study and then pull in the extra details we learn from other parallel passages to supplement the longest passage. What you will notice is that different gospel writers stressed certain things because they were writing to different audiences or have a different theological point to make. Because of these differences, many critics point to the differences in the miracle accounts to show that the Bible is full of errors. We will discuss these differences and try to determine why they exist. Sometimes we will understand why, other times we may not. That doesn’t mean the Bible has errors. My assumption is that the Bible is true and I haven’t figured it out yet. The critic’s assumption is that the Bible is full of errors and that is what he sees.

2. Progression
One of the most helpful things in studying narrative literature (stories), is learning to track the progression of thought in the narrative. The progression is the strongest thread that ties the story together as a creative whole. One might follow the progression:

*geographically - eg. Peter in the boat, out of the boat, on the shore, etc.
*logically - With a logical progression there is a cause/effect relationship. For example, the theological principles explained in Eph. 1-3 result in a certain lifestyle (Eph 4-6). Theological -> practical. Or perhaps within one miracle account you might notice that Jesus’ miracle caused different reactions in the healed person, the bystanders, the Pharisees and disciples.
*biographically - the focus is on people or conversations
*ideologically - a concept, idea or truth that is emphasized
*chronologically - like the parable of the vineyard workers

3. Context

a. Historical context
What we know from knowledge of the culture will affect our understanding and interpretation. For example, in the healing of the leper or lepers, it helps to know how awful leprosy was, how it was viewed spiritually and as far as we can tell, that nobody had ever been cured of leprosy – except for Marion, Moses’ sister and Namaan the Syrian who was healed by Elisha. If lepers are being healed now, then something out of the ordinary is going on! It should have been a clear sign that God was here!

b. Literary context
What do we know from the preceding or following context. What was Jesus talking about in His last conversation? Did He just preach a sermon? What was the point of that sermon? Perhaps the miracle illustrates the point. What statements is the author making about Jesus? Does this miracle relate to that? For example, when Jesus heals the blind man in two stages (Mark 8:22), it does not mean that Jesus’ power was inadequate for the task. He healed the man in two stages to illustrate the partial understanding of the disciples as to whom Jesus really was. You have to understand the larger literary and theological context of the book of Mark as well as have been tracking the disciples’ development along the way in order to understand that. So, although the immediate literary context is important, sometimes the larger context is also very important.

B. Interpretation

What does it mean theologically? Ask three questions:

1. What was the meaning for the Jews who saw the miracle?
2. What was the meaning for the disciples?
3. What was the meaning for the person healed?

I think that there is only one correct interpretation. There will be different subcategories of meaning for each question asked, but I think there is a right answer. By that, I mean that the author had some point in mind when he recorded the miracle. We will try to determine that. If we come to a different conclusion than someone else, then I think one of us is wrong. If we are wrong, then it is because we did poor observation or have some theological bias. In our age of relativism and no absolutes, this is not a popular concept. But I think it is a correct concept. Once we have determined the theological meaning we move to the next step.

C. Application

What does it mean to me? Although there may be only one interpretation, there can be many applications.

Summary of the process:

We need to study the events of the miracle (observation), determine what truths it teaches (interpretation) and then determine how the truths apply to us (application).

Tuesday (04/22/08)- Turning the Water into Wine

A. Passage Selected: John 2:1-11
This miracle is only recorded in John.

B. Progression Stated: Biographical

We can track this miracle biographically by following the conversations between Jesus and others involved in the miracle account.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. The context

Chronological context - There are four separate references to “day” in the context 1:19, 29, 35, 43 and 2:1 Some suggest that this is the third day after the 4th day. Thus this is the seventh day. John’s book also ends with a record of seven days. Perhaps these are “book ends” to the book. From Jerusalem up to Galilee was about a two or three day journey. So perhaps this is just a reference to the third day since Jesus was in Jerusalem.

Conceptual context - John has just presented Jesus as the creator in John 1:3. Now we will see him creating in chapter two. I think this is the most important contextual clue to consider.

2. The conversations

a. Between Mary and Jesus (1-5)

The wine gave out. That would have been a social embarrassment in that culture - or any culture for that matter. What is Mary doing hosting this wedding ceremony? She is from Nazareth. This is happening in Cana (20 miles away). Chances are this is a relative’s wedding. She goes to Jesus and tells him the wine is out. Why does she approach Jesus? He hasn’t performed any miracles yet. Because He hadn’t performed any miracles yet, some say that Mary didn’t expect Him to perform one here, but you must remember that she knew who He was. He was a perfect son. She knew He was the Messiah. Perhaps she had heard about His baptism and the Voice coming out of heaven. Perhaps she thought it was time for Him to go public with His identity. Perhaps she is just going to him, expecting him to bail her out of her social predicament or give her advice as some suggest, but I think she might have even expected something supernatural - a miracle. I think that because of what Jesus says.

Jesus says, “Woman, what do I have to do with you?” Literally, “Woman, what to you and to me.” This sounds a little rude to us. This is a Semitism which is either a hostile answer or an intentional disengagement. Another way to translate it might be “Why do you involve me?” or “What do you want with me?” By addressing his mother as “Woman” he is distancing himself from her. He uses the same term of address in John 19:26 when he is hanging on the cross and about to leave her. I think in John 19: he is indicating that his earthly existence is over and with it, the mother-son relationship. Why does He say that here? Because, with the Baptism by John, His ministry has begun, and with it His responsibility to the Father and accomplishment of His mission has now taken even more of a priority than before.

His response is that His time has not yet come. This introduces the theme of “the hour” in the gospel of John. The hour is the hour of his passion. When he gives the bread to Judas, he says his hour has come. So, when He says here that His hour has not yet come, He is saying the time when he would be glorified has not yet come. It is this statement by Jesus (who knows what people are thinking) that makes me think this is what His mother is expecting—that He get with it and show everyone who He is.

Why does he balk at her question and then go ahead and perform the miracle? What Jesus is saying is, “Nobody writes in my daytimer.” Mary was trying to dictate when Jesus was to start manifesting Himself as the Son of God. This doesn’t mean He can’t help her. He is just pointing out that she doesn’t control when He reveals Himself. Later in John His brothers tell Him to go up to Jerusalem and manifest Himself at the feast. He tells them it is not his time and then later goes to the feast in His own way - not to manifest himself as the Christ. Both of these events make it look like Jesus says one thing and does another, but when you understand this concept, it clears up the confusion.

After saying all this, it is in fact time for Jesus to begin manifesting that He is God and so He does a miracle.

b. Between Jesus and the servants (6-8)

Nearby stood six stone ceremonial water jars. Water pots could not be ceremonially clean unless hewn out of stone. These pots held between 30 and 40 gallons.

He tells the servants to draw water and fill the jars. This is the miracle proper (vs. 6-8).

He told them to put water in the pots first and then draw it out. He does this so that they would know that there was nothing in the pots beforehand. There was not a can of juice concentrate or a freeze dried package of wine in the bottom which became wine when the water was added. It removed all doubt that this was miraculous.

If you were to fill a ceremonial pot with just any old water, what would happen to the pot? It would become unclean and unfit for ceremonial use from then on. We will come back to this.

Did Jesus touch the water? Did he speak magic words over the water? One of the things we will see as we study the miracles is that there is no standardized way that Jesus performs miracles. There is very little “hype” in his miracles. People who claim to perform miracles usually surround the event with much “hype.” In all of His miracles there is almost a disengagement from the miracle event so that we can focus on the meaning. I think that is important to remember when we later discuss the current charismatic, signs and wonders movement. One of the questions to ask is “Where is their focus?”

c. Between the headwaiter and the bridegroom (9-11)

The bridegroom would have been responsible for providing the wine for the celebration. The headwaiter points out that usually people serve the good wine first and bring out the bad wine after everyone is a little too tipsy to tell the difference. vs 10 can literally be translated “usually you bring out the lower quality wine after everyone has become drunk...”

This miracle debunks one common teaching in certain Christian circles. Some try to teach that everyone in that culture drank diluted wine. Therefore, any wine or beer that we would drink today is much stronger than the wine of Jesus’ day and therefore sinful. However, it was common for people to get drunk on the wine of that day. The headwaiter said so, and Paul wouldn’t counsel against being drunk with wine in Ephesians if that was true.


John says in vs 11 that this was the beginning of Jesus’ signs. Indicating that this miracle had significance or meaning. What was the purpose or significance? There are several:

A. The purpose in the context.
In my research on this miracle I checked out the web site that contains many of Ray Stedman’s sermons. He wrote the following:

In his very helpful book Miracles, C.S. Lewis has pointed out that every miracle of Jesus is simply a kind of short-circuiting of a natural process; a doing instantly something which in general takes a longer period of time. Lewis says, “Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of nature.” That is what Jesus is doing: he is overleaping the elements of time, of growth, gathering, crushing and fermenting. He takes water---an inorganic, non-living, commonplace substance---and without a word, without a gesture, without any laying on of hands, in utter simplicity, the water becomes wine, an organic liquid, a product of fermentation, belonging to the realm of life. Thus he demonstrated his marvelous ability to master the processes of nature.

C.S. Lewis and Ray Stedman are usually very good, but here I have to disagree. If you filled a pot with water and put it on your front porch, it could sit there for a 1000 years and never turn into wine. Not only is this impossible, it misses the point of the miracle. In John 1:3, John said, “All things came into being by Him...” Now John is recording a miracle in which Jesus demonstrates that He is the creator. He creates wine. He doesn’t speed up the natural process.

So, the purpose in the context is that this is a miracle of creativity.

B. The Significance to the Jewish Audience
Why would the production of wine be important to a Jewish audience? There are many passages in the OT that predicted that when the Messiah came there would be an abundance of wine. cf. Amos 9:12-15. Wine is a symbol of the presence of the Messiah. The opening sign of the ministry of Jesus is the production of wine that proclaimed that the Messiah was present and ready to establish the kingdom.

*“You saved the best for last” may be an allusion similar to Hebrew 1. “Heb 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son ...”
*Jesus is commanding servants to act in defiling ways with Jewish water pots to accomplish His purposes. Is that important? Yes, Jesus is demonstrating that He is superior to the rituals and traditions of the Pharisees. He will do this several times throughout His ministry.
Jesus demonstrates himself to be the Creator and Messiah. He revealed his glory (John 1:14).

C. The Significance to the Disciples
This also confirmed the faith of the disciples. It says so in vs 11.


*From the conversation between Mary and Jesus we learn that Jesus is greater than Mary.
*Mary submitted to Christ and so should I.
*We also see that we shouldn’t demand that God meet our schedule or desires. He will do what He wants when He wants.
*Jesus sanctioned the institution of marriage by his presence at the wedding and reception. *Jesus made the wedding celebration even more enjoyable by providing the wine. Therefore, God is interested in our joy as well as our needs.
*The disciples believed, therefore, the right response to seeing the glorious person and work of Christ is to believe. Notice that even the first miracle has the purpose of building faith. Jesus starts off by pointing out that it is not the hour and then performs a miracle anyway. This miracle was glorious, but it was not the hour of glory. All the miracles build up to the what is most important - the most glorious work of Christ - His death - which is the basis of genuine saving faith.
*The servants saw the same miracle (from a closer vantage point than anyone else), but there is no record of their faith. Principle: Many see the works of God and do not respond in faith. This point is missed by the followers of the Vineyard Movement who teach that if people could just see miracles, then they would believe. It makes you wonder if they have read this miracle.
*Let’s go back to the creation theme. Jesus created wine with apparent age. This has significance for the creation/evolution debate. Evolutionists say that the earth has to be millions of years old because of the empirical evidence. But ask yourself the question. If God made a tree on Monday and you cut it down on Tuesday, how many rings would it have? If God created the world, why couldn’t He create it with apparent age? If you take God out of the equation, the world looks old. But if God did it 10,000 years ago, and created everything with age, then the empirical evidence for the age of the earth is not a conflict with scripture. There is no empirical evidence for transition of life forms. Consequently, scientists have opted for abrupt appearance as the explanation for the origin of life on earth. What better explanation of abrupt appearance than the creation account in Genesis?

Wednesday (04/23/08) - Healing of the Nobleman’s Son


A. Passage Selected: John 4:46-54

Some say this miracle is the same as the healing of the centurion’s son in the synoptics (#10) Luke 7:1-10 and Matt 8:5-13. But these are different for the following reasons:

Nobleman’s Son
1. Nobleman - royal connections - maybe Jewish or Roman.
2. Son
3. Negative rebuke
4. begging to come touch son
5. No positive comment on faith
6. In Cana

Centurion’s Servant
1. Entrusted with 100 men
2. Servant
3. Positive reinforcement
4. don’t come - just speak
5. Commendation on faith contrasted with Israel
6. Approaches the man at Capernaum

B. Progression Stated: Ideological
Progression of the faith of the man. Faith in the reputation and power of Christ, his faith in the promise of Christ (his word) and finally in the person of Christ.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context: Second sign at Cana of Galilee
Important events have occurred between the first and second signs in Cana. He has done miracles in Jerusalem, had conversation with Nicodemus, talks to the woman at the well in Samaria, etc. He is well received by the Galileans in vs. 45 because they know about his miraculous powers. This sets us up for the nobleman’s arrival. We know why he thinks Jesus has power.

2. Content

a. Faith in the Power of Christ 4:46-48

(1) The request

The centurion has heard of Jesus’ miracles and believes He has the power to heal his son. So he searches him out.

(2) The rebuke

Jesus says, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will never believe.” The “you” is in the plural, so Jesus is probably talking to the crowd following Him instead of to the nobleman. The nobleman is not looking for a sign. He just wants his son healed.

Perhaps you are thinking, “I thought that the purpose of the book of John was that “these signs were written that you might believe...” (John 20:31) That is true, but the key word is “written.” It does not say that we should wait to see signs before we believe. The written record of select miracles should be enough to evoke faith.

Remembering the big picture of history in relation to miracles, if you need to see a miracle to believe, then that leaves you out of most of biblical history. God always worked providentially, but only occasionally did He work miraculously.

I think this passage is relevant to the Signs and Wonders debate. I think that to demand signs and wonders is a very dangerous thing. Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who believe who have not seen...” Jesus says that an evil and adulterous generation demands signs and wonders. I have to reconcile those statements of Jesus with the modern day emphasis on the miraculous. If a Signs and Wonders advocate says that people need signs and wonders to believe, then we can say with assurance that that is not biblical.

Sometimes people get the impression that because we are not Signs and Wonders people we don’t believe in miracles nor think it would be good if God did a miracle. I have friends with cancer and other ailments, and I pray for their miraculous healing believing that God can do it. Because I don’t hype miracles doesn’t mean I don’t believe in miracles. Do I expect them? I know that the prayer of a righteous man effects much. And I know that sometimes we have not because we ask not, but I also know that miracles are not the norm for history.

The difference is that I am not demanding a miracle so that I will have faith or so others will believe. If I am, then I am putting people in a precarious position.

Jesus said, “Unless you see, you will not believe.” They could have believed without seeing. The proper belief is not in the miracle. It is in the person of Christ. It is not the act, it is the actor that they need to believe in.

So the condemnation is against people who think they or others need to see a miracle to believe in Jesus.

b. Faith at the Promise of Christ 4:49-50
(1) The persistence of the man

Even after Jesus gives the rebuke, the man still persists and makes his request. The word for son is paidia which means little boy.

(2) The promise to the man

Since the man persists, a demonstration of his faith, Jesus says, “Go, your son lives...” This fits into the Life and Eternal Life theme of John’s gospel. In the OT the term “live” is used of getting well (2Ki 8:9) and of rising from the dead (1Ki 17:23). John uses it with the first idea here. He will use “live” with the second idea later.

(3) The personal faith (?) of the man

“The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off (John 4:50)” He takes Jesus at His word. This is an important statement in the context. He is not one of those who needs to see a miracle to believe. He believes Jesus’ word. The proof that the man believes is in his actions. He leaves and heads for home. He didn’t do like Gideon and ask for proof.

It is a whole day’s walk back home. While he was still on the way, the servants meet him going the other way. Why, because at the moment Jesus said, “Go home, your son lives...” the boy got well and the servants went in search of the father to tell him the good news.

Notice that in both of these first two miracles there is no “how to,” no formula, no lightning and thunder when the miracle occurs. Notice also that the telling of the actual miracle takes only a fraction of the space devoted to the events surrounding it. Therefore the miracle is not nearly as important as the situation and the response of the people. The law of proportion (in hermeneutics i.e. Bible study) teaches me that. What is emphasized today in the healing ministries and signs and wonders movement is the activity of the miracle. If you have a strong enough stomach to watch the religious stations while one of the healing shows is on, you will find that they spend 90% of their time with people up on stage being healed. There is little teaching going on, and what teaching occurs is focused on how God wants to heal you. Today, we have drum rolls, cymbals, etc. It is all a show.

Someone has said that leaders understand orders and when Jesus said, “Go.” The man went.

c. Faith in the Person of Christ 4:51-54

(1) The revelation of the miracle

The revelation of the miracle was by the servants on the way home. From the servants the father found that the miracle coincided with the time that the Lord spoke. The Greek word for “inquire” is only used here in the NT and it means to ask for the purpose of confirmation - he knew already that his son was well.

(2) The response to the miracle

The man and his whole household believed. Perhaps when he heard that the son got well at the same time that Jesus had said, “Your son lives,” there was a new realization of who Jesus was. He was the Messiah.

Acts 10:2, 11:14, 16:15, 16:31, 18:8 are passages where whole families believe.

These first two miracles show that John’s purpose for recording miracles is being fulfilled. People are believing in the person of Christ. There has been a movement from signs to the savior. They move from wonder to worship.


*This is the second sign that he performed. It is a sign of His Messiahship, demonstrating His deity. The purpose of the miracle in its context was to bring faith. Faith is the result of trusting the words of God for the effects of God. The man believed His word. There is a stress on faith and on life being given.
*Why is this miracle significant in the context of John’s gospel? Does Jesus have to be physically present for people to believe his words and experience the effect? No. Why is that important? Because Jesus is going to go away. Is long distance a barrier to the Lord? No. I hope not if He’s going to be back in heaven.


*Faith is indispensable in pleasing God. Heb 11:6.
*Distance is no barrier to the power of God.
*Sickness is no respecter of age or person. It strikes the young and the old, the rich and the poor. Just because you are faithful, spiritual, a pastor or even a missionary, doesn’t mean that your child won’t die in the field.
*Affliction may bring blessing in disguise. What brought the contact with Jesus? Sickness What was the result? Salvation. God may use human tragedy to lead people to Himself as the only answer both for physical life and spiritual life.
*Jesus is not just the creator of life - first miracle - He is the restorer of life - second miracle.
*Faith in God’s word is preferred over faith in God’s wonders. God may not always do wonders. We’ve already discussed how the wonders have only occurred in special times in history, but His word is always around. Trusting in the word of Christ is the key. Throughout the ages, people have continually tried to stress the miracles and perform miracles thinking that people need to “SEE” the miracle in order to believe. But this man believed the Word of Jesus.
*That is why Jesus is perturbed that this people will not believe unless they See. The opportunity to See miracles is so limited that few will have a chance to See and Believe. Most will have to just hear and believe.
*When Jesus says it, it’s done.
*Sometimes God works in the immaturity of our faith to bring us to more complete faith. Maybe it is not complete - saving faith. Another example is Cornelius who was a God-fearer. He had faith, but he didn’t have saving faith in the person of Jesus.

Thursday (04/24/08) - Deliverance of the Demoniac in the Synagogue


A. Passage Selected: Mark 1:21-28

Also in Luke 4:31-37

As a general rule of thumb, even though Mark is the shortest gospel, it has the longest miracle narratives. Mark is writing to show that Jesus is the Servant. One of the characteristics of a servant is his activity and his ability and his power, therefore, Mark emphasizes the powerful working of the Servant more than the other gospels. What do you want in a servant? Speedy service. That is why Mark’s key word is “immediately.”

B. Progression Stated: Ideological

Is there any geographical information that explains the miracle? Are there any conversations that help us track the miracle? One thing that we see is the repetition of the word “authority.” Therefore the idea of the passage is Jesus’ authority.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context

a. This is a Sabbath Miracle
We need to notice that this is a Sabbath miracle. Jesus is working on the Sabbath on purpose to make the point that the old system is over and a new one is here. There was a similar message in the defiling of the ceremonial waterpots in the first miracle.

b. Context of Mark
Remember the purpose statement of Mark in Mark 1:1 where he lays out that he will prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. In the first half of the book, the emphasis is on showing Jesus to be the Messiah. The climax is when Peter makes the statement in 8:29, “You are the Christ” (i.e. Messiah) In the last half of the book, Jesus is shown to be the Son of God. The climax of that section is when the centurion looking at Jesus hanging on the cross says, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” So it helps to understand the context of the whole book as we look at this miracle.

c. Context of Luke
In Luke 4: 18 Jesus quotes Isaiah and says that He is here

A-To preach the gospel to the poor-Words-It is only the needy who responded

B-to proclaim release to the captives,-Works-In context of Luke / captive of Satan

C-and recovery of sight to the blind,-Belief-Physical and Spiritual sight

B’-to set free those who are downtrodden,-Works-Bring justice - captive of rich

A’-To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.-Words-Ultimate Sabbath rest / Salvation

Notice the chiastic structure. The center point in a chiasm is the main point, which in this case is belief or Faith in Christ. The recovery of sight to the blind refers not just to physical blindness, but also to spiritual blindness. But it will be illustrated in healing physically blind people. It would be a sign that the Messiah was present. The surrounding points show us how Jesus would bring about that belief – through His words and works.

After recording that event, Luke records the performance of this miracle where Jesus teaches with authority (His words) and sets a man free who is held captive by demons (His works). And since this miracle immediately follows the quotation from Isaiah (Luke 4:18), I think we what we have here is the illustration for Jesus’ sermon and Luke’s gospel.

This is also in keeping with Jesus’ statement in Luke 4:19 that He was here to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. This was a reference to the year of Jubilee – the Sabbath of Sabbaths. In Lev 16 the year of Jubilee is discussed in detail showing the benefits to the individual who was freed from debt, whose property was returned, etc. In Isa 61 the context has a national emphasis. Here in Luke, the reference to Elijah and Elisha ministering in the Gentile nation of Zarephath and the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian show the context has expanded to have a universal context. Jesus is bringing the ultimate Sabbath, the ultimate rest, to those who believe in Him--Jew and Gentile.

2. Content

a. Jesus teaches with authority: words (21-22)

(1) Amazement at His teaching

Other places Mark uses this word amazement. Mark 6:2, 7:37, 10:26, 11:18 In all these passages, except 7:37, the astonishment is at Jesus’ teaching and not his miracles. Again, we see an emphasis on the words and not the miraculous. Certainly, people were amazed at the miracles and certainly God used the miracles to authenticate His messenger, but I think we continually see the emphasis is on the words because that is what we will always have with us. Some may never get the opportunity to see a miracle.

(2) Authority of His teaching

The leaders of Israel, the scribes and Pharisees did not teach with authority. They always quoted someone else. They would say, “Hillel says,…” or “Shamai says,…” It is the same today in biblical scholarship. Most writers for theological journals have hundreds of footnotes in a 20 page article. That is not necessarily bad. It just means they are reading all the available literature on the subject so they can deal with all the arguments. It is just that we are fallible. We often don’t know for sure what the right answer is (even though some act like they do). Jesus was different. He didn’t quote anyone. He just quoted scripture and explained it. And when he explained it, if you were open and teachable, you just knew he was right.

William Taylor (p. 76) says there are three ways in which Jesus’ messages were superior:

1. Originality and hence more authority

2. Jesus’ illustrations were abundant and simple

3. His applications were clear and pointed

“Jesus made no reference to any authority other than himself. Yet his words were so insightful, so true to the experience and inner convictions of the men and women there that they nodded their heads, “Of course!” and knew what he said was true. His words had that “ring of truth,” acknowledged by all who heard him speak. It was self-authenticating truth, corresponding to an inner conviction in each person who heard him, so that they knew that he knew the secrets of life.”

b. Jesus heals with authority: works (23-28)
(1) Confrontation with authority (23-24)

The demons recognize Jesus’ identity and his authority and they confront Him.

(2) Confession of authority (24)

In Luke 4, at his first public address, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and the synagogue leaders wanted to throw Him off a cliff. Here we see the demons call Jesus the “Holy one of God.” This phrase is an allusion to the phrase “Holy One of Israel” used often in Isaiah and Jeremiah. The demons recognize what the audience does not. They know that Jesus has the right to judge the spirit world. Men sometimes say, “I don’t believe all this stuff about Jesus.” The spirit world knows it’s true. Only the fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

In the context of Mark, this confession by the demons has special significance. In Mark 1:1, Mark begins by stating that this is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark tells his readers right up front that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus is God. As you read through the book, you see that the disciples don’t really know who Jesus is. But here in this miracle, you see that the demons know who Jesus is. This passage sets up the irony that while his own disciples don’t know who He is, the demons do.

The demons think Jesus has shown up to judge. In Matthew the demons ask if Jesus has come to judge “before the time.” They think it is a little quick. Perhaps they know something about the timetable of the end times.

(3) Command with authority (25)

He rebuked them and told them to be quiet. This is the same word used later in the stilling of the storm. Thus we see that Jesus has the ability to still the supernatural forces and the natural forces. It may be significant, but Jesus doesn’t engage in very long discussions with demons during any of His exorcisms. I some that have rather long conversations with demons before they cast them out. I wonder if that is wise.

(4) Consequence of authority (26-28)

The demon has to come out at the command of Christ. He must obey.

The demon tries to get in one last shot on the way out, but the man was left unharmed (according to Luke - the physician 4:35). Perhaps this shows us that although the demons recognize Jesus’ authority and power and have to submit, they submit unwillingly.

The witnesses were amazed at His authority. They were amazed at His words before, and now at His works.

What word is used to describe Jesus’ teaching? “New” He is not quoting other scholars. The whole area heard about this.


Jesus has the power and authority to judge the spirit world because He is the Holy one of God - the Messiah.


*I need to believe that Jesus possesses inherent power because of who He is.
*Amazement is not enough. Faith is essential. All the people were amazed, but not all believed.
*What is Jesus doing when the demon manifests itself? He is teaching in the synagogue. The devil comes to church too. We often think that if I can just go to church, I’ll be safe there.
*From the emphasis in the passage on authority and the demon’s reaction to Jesus, we see that Satan is active in attacking the authority of Christ.
*Holiness and Sin are incompatible. When Jesus showed up, the demons reacted.
*I need to be aware and warned of how controlling the demon world can be.
*If demons are subject to the authority of Christ, I should be too. Theirs is involuntary, mine is voluntary, but I can and should submit.
*This exorcism is a very visible demonstration of the physical dimension of salvation. We are freed from the power of Satan.
*Jesus spoke with authority and without quoting the scholars. The Pharisees and scribes always quoted their teachers, thinking their tradition had settled the issue of truth. I don’t want to be pharisaical. I don’t want to be too dependent on my tradition, thinking it’s got all the answers. I want to be open to the teaching of scripture and teach with its authority. As we deal with the charismatic controversy, I think we need to keep this in mind. Try to forget your tradition and examine the arguments with as much of an open mind as possible.