Relevant for Today
The miracles of Jesus were relevant to the people back then. But what about now?
The Gospels record the miracles in order to indicate what happened, but they also have a religious purpose. Through understanding who Jesus is and what he did, we are invited to place our faith in him.
The Gospels indicate that Jesus lived on earth long ago, but now continues to live in heaven, having ascended to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). The same Jesus who acted with power and compassion on earth still acts with power and compassion now.
Each of the miracles of Jesus happened uniquely at one time and at one place. In their detailed configuration they will never be repeated. But they have pertinence for us now, because they are "signs" (John 20:30-31). They signify truths concerning God, concerning Christ, and concerning the salvation he has brought.
The miracles of Jesus have at least three kinds of significance, corresponding roughly to three aspects of who Jesus is.
1. They Show that Jesus Is Fully God
Let us begin with the first aspect, namely Jesus’s deity. John 1:1 indicates that Jesus is God. From all eternity he exists as the Word, the second person of the Trinity. The miracles as works of divine power confirm his deity. In the minds of many Christian readers, Jesus’s deity is what stands out in the miracles. But the people who originally saw Jesus’s miracles did not understand their full significance right away.
In Luke 7:16 the people identified Jesus as “a great prophet.” He was indeed a prophet; but he was more. He was God come in the flesh (John 1:14). Consider the miracles in the Old Testament that took place through prophets like Elijah and Elisha. These miracles were works of divine power. God brought them about. Elijah and Elisha did not accomplish them by their own innate power. Should we say exactly the same thing about Jesus?
No, because Jesus made claims that went beyond those of Old Testament prophets. He is the unique Son of the Father, and his name is honored alongside the name of the Father and the Spirit as a divine name (Matt. 28:19). When we understand the miracles of Jesus in the context of who he is, we see that they are works that Jesus did by his own divine power, not merely works of God done through a human prophet:
When we understand the miracles of Jesus in the context of who he is, we see that they are works that Jesus did by his own divine power, not merely works of God done through a human prophet
. . . the Son gives life to whom he will. (John 5:21)
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. (John 10:17–18)
2. They Show that Jesus Is Fully Human
A second kind of significance arises because of Jesus’s full humanity. Beginning with the time of his incarnation, Jesus is fully man as well as fully God (Heb. 2:14–18). He is one person with two natures, the divine nature and a human nature.
This is a deep mystery. As a man, Jesus performed works similar to those of Old Testament prophets. This is true in addition to the truth that we just observed about Jesus doing works by his own divine power.
3. They Show that Jesus Is the One and Only Messiah
A third significance concerns Jesus’s unique role as the Messiah, the great deliverer in the line of David who is prophesied in the Old Testament.
For example, Isaiah 9:6–7 and 11:1–9 foretell the coming of the Messiah in the line of David. Isaiah 61:1–2 describes the servant of the Lord as one filled with the Holy Spirit in order to release captives. Jesus quoted from the passage in Isaiah 61 while in the synagogue at Nazareth, and indicated that it was fulfilled in him (Luke 4:18–21). When John the Baptist sent messengers to Jesus, Jesus pointed to his miraculous works as signs of fulfillment (Luke 7:22), against the background of Isaiah 35:5–6:
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped, then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
The Grand Story of Redemption
Thus, Jesus’s miracles fulfill Old Testament prophecy. It is now almost two thousand years since Jesus accomplished his miracles. The people of God have had much time to reflect on his miracles. Much has been written that is profitable. But we may still add to it by noting ways in which each of the miracles functions as a small picture of Christ’s glory and of his mission of salvation.
The miracles tell stories that show analogues to the grand story of redemption. God redeems people from sin so that they may enter into the glory of God’s presence. The small stories of redemption point especially to the climax of redemption in Christ’s crucifixion, death, resurrection, ascension, reign, and second coming. These stories have pertinence to us because God’s call to salvation still goes out to sinners today:
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31)
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Rev. 22:17)
This article is adapted from The Miracles of Jesus: How the Savior's Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption by Vern S. Poythress.