What are the miracles of Jesus supposed to tell us? Today stories of the supernatural works that he did seem to dazzle some people and make others suspicious. The response to the works that Jesus did was the same in his time on earth. They created hype and they created criticism. They brought fame and they brought infamy. Neither of these were the aim of Jesus in what he did. Jesus was not interested in creating a following or entertaining a crowd.
Why the miracles then? The most common answer is correct, that is to show his authority. But I believe that the answer is more specific than that. It is authority to do something in particular. The works that Jesus did were not meant to dazzle and confound, but were meant to incite praise as people saw what had long before been promised. They were meant to cause people to look at the Scriptures and look at Christ and have an “Aha!” moment. The miracles of Jesus were a glimpse beyond the veil of time. They were meant to say, “This is the one who can fix the sin and brokenness in the world.” The miracles of Jesus showed that he was the one who would make all things new.
When the blind saw and the lame walked, the people that Jesus came to, rather than being entertained on one hand and being skeptical on the other should have thought of the many passages that prophesied of redemption and realized who was in there midst[i]. They should have thought of Isaiah 35, a sample of which says:
“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” 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. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;” (Isaiah 35:3-6 ESV)
In Isaiah we see prophecies with temporal application carrying with them eschatological meaning. The works that Jesus did were not merely supernatural wonders meant to get peoples’ attention and to show God’s power in general, they were a glimpse beyond the veil of sinful history to the time when by the work of Jesus Christ all would be made new. A sample of the time when every blind, deaf, and maimed child of God will be healed. Every daughter of the King who was raped will be loved and comforted. Every son who was abandoned will be secure. Every hurt will be forgotten. Every demon will be damned. Every fear will be overcome. Every tear will be wiped away. This is what the miracles of Jesus showed – they showed that not only did he have authority – he had authority to restore what was broken through Adam, to overthrow the devil, and to replace the tyrannical reign of sin with the gentle reign of righteousness.
The miracles Jesus did were not part of a divine side-show, but were displays of authority packed with eschatological meaning. Every person Jesus healed got sick again and every dead person he raised died again, but all those works said loud and clear that permanent healing and permanent raising were coming – Just as Christ coming once brought the assurance he would come again. God through Christ was giving a glimpse of Eden restored, a glimpse of the final result of the Son of God bursting the bonds of death.
More could be said here and I dealt with this matter in more detail in a sermon a few months ago. But next time you read about the miracles that Jesus did, don’t just skim over them as neat stories, but see them in the light of redemptive history. See what they mean for you amidst temptation, sickness, pain, and death. They point to a day when he will make all things new. We all face suffering in the world, so see the miraculous works of Christ as a glimpse beyond the veil of time when he brings to finality what he has begun.
[i] Some did (ie. John 1:49)