Jesus Christ Performed Miracles
A miracle, a wonder, a sign: what are they?

A sign is not the real thing. It is a marker or a symbol that points toward or bears witness of something other than itself that is reality. For example, the label on a bottle bears witness of the contents of the bottle, but the label is not the medicine. The folded cloth that John saw in the tomb on the resurrection morning was not the miracle, but it was a sign of the fact that Jesus was no longer there, though He had been there. The folded cloth was a sign; the resurrection was the miracle.

A wonder is neither a sign nor a miracle, though it may have characteristics related to both. A wonder, when used of God, is an event or unusual portion of divine origin and for the glory of God, but it is in harmony with the laws of nature and may be an acceleration or speeding up of a law of nature. For example, when Elijah made his famous run from Mount Carmel to Jezreel in the race with Ahab and his chariot, the abilities of Elijah were most unusual and without question be had the help of God. The running of Elijah was not contrary to the laws of nature, though it was an acceleration of such laws. His running was not a miracle, but it was a wonder.

A miracle is an event of divine origin, and sometimes of satanic power, that is contrary to or divergent from a law in nature. For example, one of the first principles that we learn in physics is that when an object is placed in a liquid, the law of gravity will sink the object into the liquid to the point that the object displaces its weight in the liquid. To demonstrate a test of this law, Jesus, responding to Simon Peter's request, bade him leave the boat on the sea of Galilee and walk to Him upon the water. For Peter to sink into the water would have been in harmony with the natural law of gravity. For him to walk upon the water was contrary to the law of gravity. This was a miracle.

Some miracles are miracles of mercy and some are miracles of judgment. Occasionally, a miracle may extend mercy to one and judgment to another, such as deliverance to the Hebrews and destruction to Pharaoh in the Red Sea. The Old Testament miracles were almost equally divided between acts of mercy and of judgment.

The thirty-five miracles of Christ as recorded in the four gospels were all acts of mercy with the single exception of His placing a curse upon the unproductive fig tree. The demonstration of His mercy gives testimony to His purpose and His nature. In six of His miracles, He cast out evil spirits. In nine, He demonstrated His power over nature. In seventeen, He became healer of the diseased, the deformed and the blind; in three, He restored life to the dead. Matthew records miracles; Mark, twenty-one; Luke, twenty; and John, eight. Six of those recorded by John are unique in that he alone records them.

Doubtless, Jesus had a deeper meaning related to the miracle than a mere display of divine power. Listed among the purposes in His making use of the miracle would be to glorify God, not only as Creator and Sustainer of the universe, but to verify and convey to man the fact that He is still in charge, and, not only may, but can reverse the laws of nature; to respond with love to human beings who are in need of His help; to build faith in the minds and hearts of His followers regarding who He is, and through His goodness, to lead men to repentance and life eternal.
ASSIGNMENT: Matthew 8:14-15; 9:27-34; 12:22; 15:21-37; Mark 1:23-45; 4:35-41; 5:1-43; 8:23; Luke 1:27; 5:6; 6:6-11; 7:1-17; 8:48; John 2:11; 4:54; 5:5-8; 6:9-21; 11:1-44.
©1978 by R.O.Corvin