The Ministry of Jesus – Teaching and Miracles
Jesus proves Himself.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.
– John 21:25
The very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
– John 5:36
As Jesus and His disciples journeyed through the land, people gathered around Him. He was a master communicator. With wonderful stories and illustrations, Jesus taught people the ways of God and called them to live according to those ways. Jesus had compassion for the outcast and the brokenhearted. He convicted those whose hearts were full of pride. He spoke with the authority of one sent from God, but He was not just a man of words.
Jesus expressed His compassion and proved His authority with miracles. He was reported to have calmed storms and walked on the sea. On two occasions, He took just a few loaves of bread and a handful of fish and multiplied them to feed thousands of people. Jesus gave sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, and healed people of horrible diseases. He cast demons out of people, and He even raised people from the dead. For thirty years, Jesus had lived in obscurity. But now, He was demonstrating His power over the physical and the spiritual world, over life and death.
– The HOPE, Chapter 9
Observe & Consider
During the three years between His baptism and His death and resurrection, Jesus traveled throughout the land of the Hebrews ministering to the people. There were two main aspects to the public ministry of Jesus. The first of these was His teaching.
As we read about the teaching of Jesus in the Bible, it is characterized by authority (Matthew 7:29, Mark 1:22, Luke 4:32) and wisdom (Matthew 13:54, Mark 6:2). Amazed (Matthew 7:28, Mark 1:22, Luke 4:32) and astonished (Matthew 13:54, Matthew 22:33, Mark 6:2, Mark 11:18) are the words used most to describe the reactions of those who heard Jesus teach. Even among those who doubt that Jesus is the promised Deliverer, His teaching is considered remarkable. His “Sermon on the Mount” and numerous parables1 are viewed to be among the greatest wisdom literature in the world.
The second aspect of Jesus’ ministry had to do with the miracles He performed. Most of today’s lesson will be concerned with the miracles of Jesus. But before we go further, let’s define our terms. The modern word “miracle” is derived from the Latin word miraculum, which means, “a wonder” or “something wonderful.”2 In the Bible, there are four words (two Hebrew and two Greek) that are translated as the word “miracle.” In each case, these words describe an intervention by God in which the ordinary course of nature is overruled, suspended, or modified.3 The Biblical term “miracle” means something much more than its Latin root.
Note that the Biblical use of the word doesn’t simply refer to the involvement of God in the affairs of man. It refers to what C. S. Lewis calls “a divine interference with nature by a supernatural power.”4 God does innumerable things for us on a daily basis, but He doesn’t necessarily supersede the laws of nature to do them. However, if you had terminal cancer one day, and then the next day it was gone, that would be completely contrary to the laws of nature. A miracle defies natural explanation because it defies natural law.
The Bible records 35 miracles performed by Jesus during His three years of public ministry. These miracles range from walking on water to raising people from the dead. To see a listing of these 35 miracles go to the section on the Miracles of Jesus at the end of this study guide. But keep in mind that these are only the miracles that are recorded. The Bible also says that that there are many other things which Jesus did; so many that if they were written in detail the world could not contain the books! (John 21:25).
A primary purpose (if not the primary purpose) of the miracles recorded in the Bible was to serve as signs that confirmed the presence or revelation of God. This is true of the miracles of God in the Old Testament as well as the miracles of Jesus. The miracles of Exodus 7–11 confirmed that Moses was speaking for God. In the New Testament, Jesus said that His miracles proved who He was and that God the Father sent Him (John 5:36). Jesus performed miracles so that people might believe He was who He said He was. As you consider the miracles of Jesus, do you believe?
Ask & Reflect
- Do you agree with the Biblical definition of a miracle as stated above? Why or why not?
- Does it make a difference in the way you view Jesus to know that He came with profound teaching and miraculous works? Explain why you answered “yes” or “no.”
Decide & Do
Jesus performed miracles so that people might believe in Him. But in some situations Jesus did not perform a miracle because He knew they would not believe. Their hearts would not be receptive even with a miracle. “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58).
People sometimes reason that if God would only do something in their lives, then they would believe. But God has already done something. He sent His son, and He came performing miracles so that we might believe. In Mark 9:23, Jesus said, “All things are possible to him who believes.” We may want God to prove Himself, but according to these words, a believing heart comes first.
Take some time to read through the recorded Miracles of Jesus which are listed at the end of this study guide. Ask God to teach you about Himself as you read through them.
For Further Study
- Ken Palmer, The Sermon on the Mount. (© Life of Christ, Ken Palmer, 1998–2006. (http://www.lifeofchrist.com/teachings/sermons/mount/default.asp). Retrieved November 1, 2006. “This is the greatest sermon Jesus ever preached. The Lord’s prayer, the beatitudes, and the golden rule are in this sermon.”
- John Piper, Jesus Is Precious Because His Biblical Portrait Is True, Part 2. (© John Piper, Desiring God , 2006). (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1982/333_Jesus_Is_Precious_Because_His_Biblical_Portrait_Is_True_Part_2/). Retrieved November 1, 2006. A sermon delivered by John Piper on February 14, 1982.
1Ken Palmer, Parables of Jesus Christ. (© Life of Christ, Ken Palmer, 1998–2006). (http://www.lifeofchrist.com/teachings/parables/). “A parable is an earthly story with a spiritual truth.”
2Miracle [LAT. miraculum, from mirari, to wonder]. (© Net Industries, Online Encyclopedia, 2006; originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 572 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica). (http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/MIC_MOL/MIRACLE_Lat_miraculum_from_mira.html). Retrieved November 1, 2006.
3Miracles of Jesus – Man on a Mission. (© AllAboutJesusChrist.org, 2002 – 2006). (http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/miracles-of-jesus.htm). Retrieved November 1, 2006.
4John–Erik Stig Hansen, Do Miracles Occur? (©John Visser, Into the Wardrobe: A C. S. Lewis Website, 1994–2006). (http://cslewis.drzeus.net/papers/miracles.html). Retrieved November 1, 2006.