By Cecil Willis
This week we are focusing our attention to more of the miracles of Jesus. We want to consider especially those listed by John in his Gospel. The Gospel of John has been called the “Gospel of Belief”, for John seeks to call to mind, through the Holy Spirit, the signs that Jesus did, and to record them so as to produce faith in the minds of those who read his account of the life of Christ. In stating the purpose for his Gospel account, John says, “Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; that believing ye may life in his name” (Jn. 20:30, 31). These miracles are proofs of Christ’s deity, according to John.
The word “sign” is the word used by John when referring to a miracle. “While the use of this term as applied to a miracle is not confined to John, it is the only word used for miracle in that Gospel. John, then, presented the miracles not merely as supernatural deeds nor as manifestations of supernatural power, nor even as exceptions to the usual current of events, but definitely as material witnesses to underlying spiritual truth” (Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief, p. 29).
Notice also that John says “Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book,” which declares that John does not intend to record every miracle that Jesus performed, but to select certain ones. John’s Gospel is, therefore, a selective Gospel. In all, there are about nine outstanding miracles recorded in the book of John. We are going to study but seven of them, omitting Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and the drought of fishes recorded in chapter 21. Each miracle that Jesus performed indicated His divine power over a certain sphere.
Power Over Quality
The first miracle performed by Jesus is recorded in John 2:1-11. Jesus and his disciples were invited to a wedding feast. During the feast the wine failed, or the supply gave away. So Jesus commanded that six stone waterpots be filled with water. Then He commanded them to dip from the waterpots and take it to the ruler of the feast. The servants complied and took the water now-turned-to-wine to the ruler. He declared that the wine which the bridegroom had reserved to the end of the feast was even better than that which had been served in the beginning of the supper. The servants knew that Jesus had turned the water into wine by divine power. The fact that Jesus could instantly bring about the wine which took a vine months to produce was indication of His supernatural power. It showed that Jesus had power over quality. The significance of this miracle is seen in verse 11: “This beginning of his signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” This was the intended result of John’s recording of this miracle in his Gospel account. It showed Jesus’ power over quality.
Power Over Distance
In John 4:46-54, we find a record of Jesus’ healing the nobleman’s son. Jesus had just visited Samaria and returned to Cana of Galilee. “And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him, that he would come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death” (v. 46,47). The original language implies that the nobleman’s son had a lingering illness, and was so weakened that he was now at the point of death. The father, hearing of Jesus, came to Cana, in order that he might get Jesus to go to his house to heal his son. Upon hearing the man’s request, Jesus said, “Go thy way; thy son Iiveth.” This was a real test for the nobleman’s faith. Was he to leave Jesus whom he believed to be capable of healing his son? Should he go back home believing his son already healed? His faith won the contest, and he went home. His servants met him and told him that his son liveth. Upon inquiring about when the change came over his son, they told him, yesterday at the seventh hour. He then remembered that this was when Jesus had told him that his son liveth. In this instance Jesus healed a boy who was about twenty miles away from Him. Jesus was in Cana, and the boy in Capernaum. So Jesus showed Himself to be the master of distance by this miracle.
Power Over Disease and Time
In John 5:1-9, Jesus healed a man lame for thirty-eight years. In Jerusalem there was a pool that the lame thought could heal them it they were put in the water at the time the waters were troubled. When Jesus asked this lame man if he wished to be made whole, he told Him that he had no one to put him in the water when it was troubled. Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk. “And straightway the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked” (v.9). It is common knowledge that the longer one is afflicted by any disease, the more difficult it is to cure. This man had been in his infirmity, the Bible says, for thirty-eight years. But Jesus instantly healed him of his disease demonstrating His power over both disease and time.
Power Over Quantity
In John 6:1-4, we have the account of Jesus’ feeding the five thousand men, besides women and children, with the five loaves and two small fish. Jesus had been teaching the multitude, and when mealtime came, there was nothing for them to eat. One of His disciples suggested that two hundred shillings worth of bread would not be sufficient to feed such a vast multitude.
But Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, fed the multitude as much as they would eat, and yet there were twelve baskets of broken pieces left over. This shows Jesus’ power over quantity. He took this small amount of food and miraculously multiplied it so as to feed the vast multitude.
Power Over Nature
John teals of another miracle performed by Christ. In 6:16-21, we have the account of Jesus’ walking on water. After Jesus had fed the multitude, the disciples entered into a boat, and rowed a considerable distance form the shore. Jesus was not in the boat with them, and as the wind as rising, they beheld Jesus, coming unto them upon the water, and were afraid. Jesus consoled them by saying, “It is I; be not afraid.” Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus came to them in the fourth watch of the night, and John adds that they had not gone but thirty furlongs, or 3 3/4 miles. So it had taken them nine hours to go this short distance. It must have been a very startling occasion for them to look up and see Jesus walking to them upon the rough sea. This miracle indicated Jesus’ power over nature, as do the instances in the other Gospels, when by a word by Him, the sea is calmed.
Power Over Misfortune
In John 9:1-9, we have the account of Jesus’ healing a man, blind from his mother’s womb. The disciples asked what this man had done to cause his blindness. They also asked, what did his parents do to cause him to be born blind? But Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” But seeing the plight of the man, Jesus spit upon the ground, mixed some clay with the spittle, rubbed the mixture on his eyes, and told the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. The man complied with Jesus’ command, and came forth seeing. This miracle indicated Jesus’ power over misfortune.
Power Over Death
The final miracle mentioned by John, besides the resurrection of Christ and the drought of fishes, is the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. This miracle is recorded in John 11:1-46. Remember that Lazarus was a very close personal friend of Jesus. The message came to Jesus that Lazarus, whom He loved, was sick. Before Jesus came to the place where Lazarus was, Lazarus died. In fact, the account says that Lazarus had been dead for four days. But Jesus went to the cave where Lazarus was buried, and commanded that the stone be removed. Then Jesus prayed to God the Father, and after He prayed, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” and Lazarus came forth, bound hand and foot in the grave clothes. By raising this man from the dead, Jesus showed His power over death.
This concludes a brief survey of the miracles that Jesus performed as mentioned by the apostle John. We have purposely made our remarks concerning these miracles brief, as we want to compare these miracles that Jesus performed with those who claim to have the power to work miracles today.
Within the next few articles, God permitting, we shall study the Duration of Miracles, seeing that they were for a temporary purpose; they served their purpose, and were done away. But notice the variety of miracles that Jesus performed. He changed water into wine, healed a nobleman’s son who was more than twenty miles away from Him at the time, healed a man of a disease which he had for thirty-eight years, fed five thousand men, plus the women and children, with five loaves and two fish, walked on water, healed a man born totally blind, and -raised Lazarus from the dead. And John says that Jesus did many other signs. But compare the different kinds of miracles that Jesus did with the acts of men today who claim they are working miracles. They only pretend to do one or two kinds of miracles. They try to heal and they claim to speak in tongues. In the Bible we read that speaking in tongues was to speak languages which they had never learned-not just a conglomeration of unitelligible jabber. So, really miracleworking today resolves itself to healing. Later we will study miraculous divine healing. But did you ever see one of these fellows who claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that he can work miracles attempt to feed five thousand with five small loaves and two small fish? You certainly did not, nor will you find anyone trying it. They would be certain to meet failure, and it would be apparent. Did you ever see one of these men who claim to work miracles walk on water? Jesus could. Jesus stopped the storm simply by commanding the winds to be still. Did you ever see, or hear tell of one of these socalled inspired men who could calm a hurricane or a tornado with the command of his voice? No sir, nor will you see one of them trying. Have you seen any of them raise a man from the dead, or have you seen anyone whom they have raised from the dead? Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He had been in a tomb for four days, and his body was already decaying. Let me see one of these men who can work “miracles” go out and raise one from the dead that has been in the tomb for four days. Neither can they make a blind man to see. They do not even attempt to work a miracle on a totally blind man. They might take a man who cannot see very well, and work on him so that he thinks he will be able to see better than before, or at least he sees better than before, but they do not take a totally blind man, and make his eyes as new.
Friend, the point I want to make is that these modern-day miracle-workers do not do the same kind of things that Jesus did, for they cannot. We will study this point more completely later. (Material on Miracles in John is found in substance in Merrill Tenny’s John: The Gosepl of Belief.)
Truth Magazine XXI: 5, pp. 71-72
February 3, 1977