Study 7 THE MESSAGE OF HIS MIRACLES
THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Matthew 11:1-6
There are two special reasons why it is important in any study of the Person and Work of our Lord that time should be given to the miracles which He performed. The first reason is that He so frequently worked miracles; and the second reason is that the four Evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - gave such a large amount of space in giving detailed accounts of these miracles. The writers are emphatic that He did perform miracles, and by a comparison of the four Gospels it appears that we have the authentic record of at least thirty-three different specific miracles. How true it is that ‘the miracles are the warp and woof of the gospel’! We must remember, however, that the subject of miracles has always given rise to discussion and argument. There are many today who tell us that they cannot accept the miraculous element in our Christian Faith. Often the miracles are explained away, and we are told that they are only parabolic of our Lord’s power to change the attitude of men to situations. But if Christianity is not supernatural it is not anything very worthwhile at all, except as a very good system of ethics with no dynamic; a set of commands with no divine enabling; a pattern with no power; and an example with no energy. If the Christian life is not a supernatural life it is a failure, because it is not a new life. The seriousness of denying the miracles, however, lies in the fact that if we cannot rely upon the biblical accounts the very foundation of our Faith has gone - look up Psalm 11:3. If there are errors in the scriptures mixed up with truth, how can we discern or determine which things are true and which things are untrue? The denial of the miraculous is heresy and those who deny the miraculous are enemies of the gospel who preach and teach “a different gospel” - look up Galatians 1:6-7. They are indeed “blind leaders of the blind”, caught up with the inadequacies of human philosophy and ”cleverly invented stories” - look up Matthew 15:14 and 2 Peter 1:16. What, then, is a miracle?
‘A miracle, in the Bible sense of the word, is an extraordinary work of God transcending the ordinary powers of nature, wrought in connection with the ends of revelation … i.e., wrought in order to reveal God to man and to achieve the purposes of God’.
Many miracles are recorded in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament we read of the apostles performing miracles. It is also true to say that miracles happen today. It is a simple matter for God to set aside or to transcend the laws of nature if it suits His purpose to do so. After all, He is Lord of nature. The greatest miracle of all is the Person of Christ, and anyone who believes on Him and accepts Him in all the glory and dignity of His Person will have no difficulty in accepting the miraculous element in His life and ministry. ‘When we accept Him, miracles at once become credible’. Indeed, when we remember who He is, ’the miraculous works in His life seem only becoming and natural’. What, then, is the message of His miracles? What do they tell us?
1. The miracles were fulfilments of prophecy
If you read Matthew 8:16-17 and compare Isaiah 53:4, you will see at once that this is made clear. The great value of this observation is that just as Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled literally in the ministry of our Lord, and just as every other fulfilled prophecy has been fulfilled literally, so every unfulfilled prophecy will be fulfilled literally. When Jesus sent a message back to John the Baptist, was He not saying to him, “Are not these things a fulfilment of prophecy, and therefore an indication that I am the Messiah?” - look up Matthew 11:2-6.
2. The miracles were proof of His power, His lordship and His deity
The fact that He performed miracles did not prove that He was the Son of God or that He had come to earth on a divine mission. Satan can perform miracles; he does it today through the promoters of false systems of religion, and he will do it on a far larger scale before long – look up and compare Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:3. But when we look at our Saviour and observe His manner and His humility, and when we listen to His words and then see His miracles, we have to say with Nicodemus - John 3:2! The miracles of our Lord show forth who He is - look up John 2:11; and they are recorded that we may know who He is and that we may believe on Him - look up John 20:30-31. Did not our Lord also have this in mind in His reply to John the Baptist? look up Matthew 11:2-6 again, and compare Matthew 8:27.
3. The miracles were demonstrations of His great heart of compassion
Suppose we ask the question: ‘What is the Lord Jesus like?’ We can answer this by quoting some of His sayings. For example, look up Matthew 11:28-30, which surely tells us that He has a heart of love and tender compassion. But what more convincing proof of His love and compassion could we find than the fact of His miracles? He cleansed the leper (Mark 1:40-45); He raised the dead (John 11:43-44). How wonderful He must be then! Yes, He is!
4. The miracles were illustrations of His saving work
Every miracle was a parable. When we see Him cleansing the leper we are reminded that He can cleanse the sinner from all sin - look up and compare Matthew 8:2-3 and 1 John 1:7; when He raised the dead we are reminded that He gives everlasting life to all who trust in Him - look up and compare Luke 8:49-56; Ephesians 2:1 and 1 John 5:11-12; when He stilled the storm and spoke to His disciples we are reminded that He can give peace to troubled souls look up and compare Mark 4:35-41 and Philippians 4:7. All that He did in the bodies of suffering humanity shows what He is able to do in men’s souls.
5. The miracles were proof of His spoken word and of His promises
Our Saviour made some tremendous claims. For example, look up John 6:35; John 8:12 and John 11:25. Anyone could make these claims, but the difference is that having made them He proved that He was indeed all that He claimed to be - notice this as you look up John 6:5-14; John 9:1-41 and John 11:1-45.
Our Lord’s miracles assure us that He is our Sovereign Lord and our Saviour.