Session 5: Salvation Talk in the Miracles of Jesus and Previews of God's Redemptive Future
This may be the most important lesson in this series of lessons. In the miracles of Jesus, we begin to see previews of God’s redemptive future. Jesus is at war with the devil to get he world back and set the world right!
- Play: Session 5 Video
This may be the most important lesson in this series of lessons. I want to give the thesis of my understanding of the miracles of Jesus. Here’s why: in the miracles of Jesus I think we begin to see previews of God’s redemptive future. Jesus is at war with the devil to get the world back and set the world right!
I didn’t always think this way. I used to think that the miracles of Jesus were primarily to prove that he was the Son of God. I mean he could do those thing recorded in theGospels, and we can’t. Now that is one of the purposes of the miracles. It is an important one, but it is only one. When viewed with a wider lens we see how the miracles of Jesus played into his larger salvific work.
Let me show you what began to change my view. I noticed what I call “salvation talk” in the miracle stories. Language that was typically reserved for forgiveness or eternal life was creeping into the miracle stories. Examples:
- Destroy us before the time?” (Mk.1: 24).
- “How he has had mercy on you” (Mk. 5:19).
- “Your faith has healed you” (Mk. 5:43).
- “Don’t be afraid, just believe” (Mk. 5:36).
- “The child is not dead but asleep” (Mk. 5:39).
- “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk. 10:47 & 48)
- “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (Lk. 5:8).
- “Whom Satan has kept bound for 18 years” (Lk. 13:16).
So, let’s go on a bit of a journey with this:
- We’re not trying to denigrate Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and discipling, but in the miracles of Jesus we see the beginning of the end of the devil and the beginning of the saving of the world—even before he gets to the cross.
- The miracles of Jesus become cameos of the not yet redemption of the world.
- The miracles of Jesus then function like previews of coming attractions—much like in a movie theater.
- Therefore all the miracles of Jesus should be viewed eschatologically.
- All the miracles of Jesus therefore were only quick fixes. Everyone that he healed got sick again. Even the demon-possessed, whom Jesus released, could be inhabited again (Lk. 11:24-26).
- When a miracle takes place it is a brief glimpse into a future world totally controlled by God where there is no sickness, death, or pain (Rev. 21:4).
You see part of our problem to understand this is that we have a puny view of salvation. I rejoice that God is in the forgiveness business, but that is not his only business. One of my co-workers talks about the idolatry of salvation, where salvation is only defined in terms of personal forgiveness. It can become an idol when viewed only that way.
Salvation is huge. I would argue it has six nuances:
- The lost are found (Lk. 15).
- The guilty are forgiven (Ac. 2:38)
- The sick are made well—a true state of shalom (many of the references we have already given).
- The outsider is brought into community (Matt. 8:1-4; Lk. 5:12-16)—half of the story emphasizes this.
- The world is set right (injustice is eradicated).
- The curse is removed and therefore the environment is cleansed.
All of these flow into a larger definition of salvation for me. I call salvation—in it larger sense—the healing of all creation. If we don’t have a puny view of salvation, then it will be easier to see the salvific purpose behind the miracles of Jesus.
Let me close with three quotes that might help us:
- Philip Yancey (Lowery, 142), “Why then, any miracles? Did they make any difference? It was in Jesus’ nature to counteract the effects of the fallen world during his time on earth. As he strode through life, Jesus used supernatural power to set right what was wrong. Every physical healing pointed back to a time in Eden when physical bodies did not go blind, get crippled, or bleed nonstop for twelve years—and also pointed forward to a time of re-generation to come. The miracles he did perform, breaking as they did the charms or sickness and death, give me a glimpse of what the world was meant to be and instill hope that one day God will right its wrongs. To put it mildly, God is no more satisfied with this earth than we are: Jesus’ miracles offer a hint of what God intends to do about it.”
- Gregory Boyd (God at War, 192), “Jesus’ miracles over nature, as well as his healings, exorcisms and especially his resurrection, were definite acts of war that accomplished and demonstrated his victory over Satan. These acts routed demonic forces and…established the kingdom of God and the restoration of a new humanity in the midst of this war zone. In doing this, Jesus set in motion forces that will eventually overthrow the whole of this already fatally-damaged Satan assault upon God’s earth and upon humanity.”
- Lowery, (Humble Defense, 138), “Miracles are thus a means which God employs for directing history until the time he has established his rule over the whole universe.”
If this makes sense, next we will speak about miracles as going to war with compassion and why then attributing Jesus’ power to the devil is such a lethal sin.
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