As the New Testament opens, Jesus the Messiah is performing miracles at a level that far exceeds anything that had been seen previously. The Old Testament contains accounts of miraculous signs performed by God’s spokespeople, such as Elisha’s healing of Naaman the Syrian military leader in 2 Kings 5, but Christ’s supernatural works were at a much greater frequency and magnitude.
Near the end of John’s gospel account, he explained: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31 NKJV). And John closed his book with a similar note: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:24). Jesus performed miracles, and the New Testament biographies of His life describe them, so that we will place our faith and trust in Him.
Miracles in John: The Magnificent Seven
The Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John report thirty-five distinct miracles by Jesus. Matthew and Luke described 20 apiece, and Mark recorded 18. John – who said Jesus had performed countless supernatural acts – only described seven. But these magnificent seven miracles are notable:
- Water is turned into wine (John 2:1-11);
- Nobleman’s son in another town is healed (4:46-54);
- Lame man is healed by the Pool of Bethesda on the sabbath (5:1-17);
- 5,000 fed from five loaves of bread and two fish (6:1-14);
- Walked on the Sea of Galilee (6:16-21);
- Gave sight to the man who was born blind (9:1-41);
- Raised Lazarus from the dead (11:17-44).
Characteristics of the Master’s Miracles
Jesus’ supernatural works share a combination of distinctive features:
They were complex: All kinds of subjects were addressed in Jesus’ works, including miraculous healing, raising the dead, casting out demons and supernatural control of forces of nature.
They were complete: His miracles were discernible, verifiable, flawless and immediate. These were not sleight of hand or some type of trickery, but were actual, historical supernatural events.
They were conservative: Jesus was never wasteful with His ability or blessings. They weren’t performed for purely entertainment. Consistent with the principle of parsimony (detesting unnecessary use of money), Jesus used whatever resources were available first, natural and human: available water was turned into wine; food on hand was used to feed a huge crowd; bystanders rolled away Lazarus’ stone; Lazarus fed himself after he was raised. And baskets of leftovers were gathered.
They were compassionate: Jesus performed miracles with a desire to show real love to those who were in distress (Matt. 9:35-36; 14:14; Mark 5:19). Keep in mind, though, that He did not heal every illness of every sick person on earth. Neither did the apostles (Phil. 2:25-30; I Tim. 5:23; II Tim. 4:20).
They were compelling: Many who observed His miracles were convinced of His deity (John 3:2). But not everyone who saw His miracles believed (John 12:37).
More about one of Jesus’ amazing miracles is in our YouTube video: Calm in the Storm.