NextLevel Online: Miracles

Session 4: The Terminology and Purposes of the Miracles of Jesus

In this fourth lesson on the miracles of Jesus, we are getting down to more of the actual study. We want now to consider the terminology and purposes of the miracles of Jesus.


Classroom Instructions

Materials: Lesson Outline
  • In this fourth lesson on the miracles of Jesus, we are getting down to more of the actual study. We want now to consider the terminology and purposes of the miracles of Jesus.

  • The Terminology of the Miracles of Jesus:

    • There are four words that we have to unpack understand the miracles of Jesus. They are:
      • Miracle (dunamis) = work of power (only used in Synoptics).
      • Wonder (teras) = the sensation that the miracle creates (onomatopoeia). More of a reaction to dunamis (only Synoptics use—except one use in Jn. 4:48—Jesus said to the nobleman from Capernaum, “Unless you see signs and wonders you won’t believe.”
      • Signs (semeion) = that which points beyond itself to a greater spiritual reality. All four Gospels use this word, but John’s use of it seems special (Jn. 20:30-31).
      • Work (ergon) = metonymy for some aspect of his ministry. Occurs 27 times in Jn. Can apply to more than miracles but can refer specifically to miracles at times.

NOTE: The difference between the Synoptics and John is the reaction that the miracle receives—Wow vs. Hmmmm.

  • These four terms do overlap. R.C. Trench says, “The terms do overlap, but a sign is a miracle that points to a greater spiritual reality” (Synonyms of the NT, 317). The “sign” part is discerned by faith. It matches the double talk of John’s Gospel. Sometimes people were drawn to the sign but not the reality it pointed to (6:2, 14, 26; 12:18, 37).

  • Lynn Gardner says, “A miracle is an event in the external world worked by the direct power of God intended as a sign” (Christianity Stands True, 65).

  • Graham Twelftree says, “A miracle performed by Jesus is an astonishing event, exciting wonder in the observers, which carries the signature of God, who, for those with the eye of faith, can be seen to be expressing his powerful eschatological presence” (Jesus the Miracle Worker, 350)

  • But maybe more important that the definition of miracle is the varied purposes for which Jesus worked them. It is to that we now turn:

  • The Purposes of the Miracles of Jesus:

    • I will mention seven (a good number) purposes of miracles and then fold them all into one all-embracive purpose.
      • To prove his identity—this is his messianic calling card.

        • Mk. 2:10, “But that you might know…”
        • Mk. 4:41, Who then is this…?”
        • Mk. 6:50, “Take heart, it is I. Don’t be afraid.”
        • Jn. 10:38, “Believe the miracles…they bear witness of me.”
        • “Jesus used physical miracles, visible to the senses, to demonstrate His spiritual authority” (Christianity Stands True, 65)
      • To demonstrate his mission/government.

        • Matt. 12:28, “If I cast out demons…”
        • Mk. 3:27, “No one can enter a strong man’s house unless he bind him…”
        • Lk. 13:11, “Satan bound this woman…”
      • To stir controversy—at least that often results.

        • Mk. 3:5—withered hand.
        • Mk. 11:12-14, 20-25—cursed fig tree.
        • Jn. 5:1-18; 9:1-41—lame man and blind man
      • To show compassion

        • Matt. 8:1-4, “I am willing.”
        • Matt. 14:14; 15:32 to crowds of 5,000 and 4,000.
        • Mk. 5:21-43—Jairus and woman.
        • Lk. 7:11-15—widow’s boy at Nain.
        • Lk. 22:50-51—Malchus’ ear.
        • Jn. 11:1-44—Lazarus.
      • To reward faithfulness

        • Mk. 7:24-30—Canaanite woman.
        • Mk. 2:1-12—lame man through roof.
        • Matt. 14:28-32—saved Peter from drowning.
        • Matt. 8:5-13—centurion.
      • To fulfill prophecy

        • Matt. 8:16-17 (Isa. 53:4).
        • Matt. 11:5—Go back and tell JB.
        • Isa. 35:10.
      • To display the glory and work of God

        • Jn. 2:11, “Thus revealed his glory.”
        • Jn. 9:1ff, “Who sinned…?”
        • Jn. 11:4, This sickness is not unto death…”
  • If we recognize these varied purposes, we won’t try to teach all the miracle stories from an apologetic angle only. This then should prepare us to deal with the salvation talk of the miracle stories and an all-embracive view of what the miracles are really doing in the Gospel record.

About NextLevel Online

The vision of Ozark Christian College is to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide. The mission of Ozark Christian College is to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education.