A Closer Look at the Miracles of Jesus
Each of the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John present a number of miracles and other acts of power that Jesus performed. Because each of the four Gospels are written to different groups of Christians, however, each writer presents these miracles in a different light. The Gospel of Mark is commonly accepted to be the earliest Gospel written. As such, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as one of their primary sources. Each of these will be examined before exploring John's Gospel.
One of the primary themes of Mark's Gospel is established in the first chapter. Jesus explained what His message was going to be. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15) For Mark, the miracles that Jesus performed were evidence that the Kingdom of God was present in Jesus and was being established on the earth.
There is a wide range of diversity to the miracles that Mark presents. He shows Jesus healing a woman with a severe fever but also provides the account of Jesus raising a young girl from the dead. Mark also includes several nature miracles. The most dramatic of these is when Jesus immediately calms a raging storm that threatened to swamp the small boat that He and his disciples were in. At His word, the winds stopped and sea became calm prompting His disciples to ask, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" Each of the miracles that Mark presents solidifies Jesus' claim that the "Kingdom of God is near."
Mark's Gospel also contains more miracles than the other books. The audience that Mark was likely writing for was Roman Christians. Romans would be much more action-oriented than a Jewish or a Greek audience. They would not be as interested in long teaching discourses. The Romans would be much more concerned with what Jesus did than what he said.
Matthew's Gospel appears to be written to Jewish Christians. It contains much more teaching than Mark or John and places a special emphasis on the fact that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Since Mark appears to be one of Matthew's primary sources, most of the miracles in Mark are also listed in Matthew.
One additional miracle that Matthew does present is the story of Peter joining Jesus as He walked on the water. While Mark describes Jesus walking to the disciples across the lake, Matthew adds the account of Peter asking Jesus if he can walk on the water too. Jesus said, "Yes, come." Peter was the only disciple who was willing to climb out of the boat and walk to Jesus across the water. After walking for a few moments, Peter got scared and started to sink. Jesus grabbed him and helped him back to the boat. Many sermons have been preached on this passage, often chastising Peter for his lack of faith. In reality, Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat and walk on the water. None of the other disciples were even willing to try.
To be continued...
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