A Closer Look at Jesus’ Miracles- Part Two
Luke’s Gospel appears to be written to an educated Greek audience. Luke also appears to draw heavily from Mark but also contains miracles that are unique to his book. Luke is the only Gospel writer to include the miraculous catch of fish at the time Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His disciples. This miracle was likely the stimulus that convinced the men to leave their fishing business behind and follow Jesus.
John’s Gospel stands by itself. It appears to have been written much later than the three synoptics. John’s approach to writing about Jesus is very different from that of Matthew, Mark, or Luke. John’s discussion of miracles is also significantly different from the other three gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all use a derivative of the Greek word “dunamis” to describe Jesus’ miracles. This word means “an act of power.” It is where the English word “dynamite” comes from.
John, however, uses a completely different Greek word when discussing Jesus’ miracles. He uses the word “semeion,” which in English is translated as “sign.” John centered his Gospel around eight signs. Most scholars only refer to seven signs because they choose to view the resurrection of Jesus as in a class by itself. In reality, however, John builds his narrative to the point where it climaxes with the resurrection.
In describing the miracles as signs, John uses each one to reveal something of Jesus’ nature and the Kingdom of God. Signs are designed to point to something beyond themselves. The first sign, for example, was where Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding. First of all, this miracle shows God’s supremacy over nature. The fact that this miracle took place at a wedding is also significant. There was no greater celebration than a Jewish wedding. The feasting and celebrating would go on for several days. By turning water into wine on this occasion, Jesus seems to be presenting a foreshadowing of what His followers have to look forward to in the Kingdom of God.
The seventh sign that John gives is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This miracle creates the first climax in John. This sign points to God’s ultimate victory over death. At the same time, Jesus wept when He saw and felt the pain that His friends were going through because of their brother’s death. This sign would set the stage for Jesus’ own resurrection just a few chapters later.
There was a significant difference between the two events. While Lazarus was raised to life, he would ultimately die again. Jesus’ resurrection, however, was as the first fruits of God’s new creation. Jesus was raised to a new kind of life and would never die again. The resurrection of Jesus was God’s greatest sign, letting mankind know that they too can look forward to experiencing a resurrection as well if they have put their faith in Christ.
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