Light of the World
"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him' " (John 3:1, 2).
Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, recognized that Christ was sent by God, because as he told Jesus, "No one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." Jesus Himself acknowledged the miracle working power of His Father who worked through Him when He said, "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
The four Gospels show that Christ performed many miracles during His public ministry. You can see these listed at the end of this booklet. Through faith in His Father, the great Wonder Worker healed the sick, cast out devils, cleansed the lepers, and raised the dead. Those who witnessed these miracles were convinced that there was no limit to God's power to deliver. In Christ, the words of the psalmist were fulfilled:
"What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples" (Psalm 77:13, 14).
We know, of course, that some people are skeptical of miracles, but if we will stop to think, we must conclude that miracles are not unreasonable. Someone has put it this way: In some countries, a father can take his little son to the visitors' platform at the city airport and put a coin in the slot. The steel arms barring the way turn down, and they pass through to the ramp where they can get a closer view of the big airliners. That machine with the steel arm is a miracle to the childbut not to the father, who understands something about its mechanism. Even so, what appears as a miracle to us is no miracle to God, but rather the speeding up of those divine forces that operate in harmony with divine laws. With this in mind, let's continue our story and follow the great Miracle Worker as He performs His wonderful acts for the good of the people.
Jesus performed this miracle, the first of His marvelous signs, at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him. (For the full account of this miracle, read John 2:1-11.)
During the wedding festivities, which probably lasted for several days, the supply of wine unexpectedly gave out, and Jesus' mother, who was also a guest, told Him about the embarrassing situation.
Nearby were six large stone jarsthe capacity of each was about fifteen gallonsand Jesus instructed the servants to fill them with water. This was done as He commanded, and He said, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet" (John 2:8). And, wonder of wonders! Instead of the water with which the jars had been filled, there flowed forth the sweetest wine! When the ruler of the feast drank the delicious beverage, he exclaimed at its excellence. Inquiry was made concerning the wine, and it was discovered that Jesus had performed a great miracle. The news of this event spread throughout Galilee and probably even to Jerusalem. There was a keen desire on the part of both the leaders and the common people to know more about Christ. This miracle which had been performed to add happiness to a wedding feast resulted in a widespread interest in Jesus' ministry.
The word wine as used in the Bible, frequently refers to unfermented grape juice. It was this fresh juice to which the prophet Isaiah referred when he spoke of "new wine" in "the cluster." "Do not destroy it," he said, "For a blessing is in it" (Isaiah 65:8, NKJV).
The acts of Christ's public ministry were in harmony with the Old Testament warning which had been given to Israel:
"Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).
Jesus did not come to this earth to contradict the teachings of the prophets. It was unfermented winegrape juice-that He provided for the guests at the wedding feast in Cana. He gave no encouragement for the use of intoxicating drinks at the wedding feast, nor at any time during His public ministry.
THE FIVE THOUSAND
Absorbed in His work, the Savior had forgotten to eat, and the people were so engrossed in what He said that they did not give a thought to food. Finally, the disciples urged Jesus to send the multitude away so that they could buy bread for themselves. But Jesus had other plans. He determined to feed them Himself, beginning with such provisions as were available.
"Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand" (Mark 6:41-44).
With firm reliance upon God, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes that a little boy gave Him and blessed them and broke them. Then, as He gave the food to the disciples to distribute to the people, it multiplied in His hands! Thus a vast crowd of more than five thousand people was fed.
This is the best attested of all Christ's miracles, for all four Gospel writers record itMatthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:34-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-13. Later, a similar miracle took place not far from this same spot, when Jesus miraculously fed a crowd of four thousand (see Matthew 15:29-38; Mark 8:1-9).
The miracle of the loaves and fishes teaches us two important lessons:
1. Christ never performed miracles in His own behalf, but always for the welfare of others. This miracle of the loaves and fishes supplied an actual necessity. Christ did not perform it merely to demonstrate His divine power. If He had wanted to do so, He could have provided the people a lavish feast of luxurious food. But He gave the poor fisher folk the simple, daily food they were used tobarley loaves and fish.
2. When Jesus took the food and passed it to His disciples, and they to the people, He taught us how we are to receive and pass on the blessings of God. The disciples received from Christ and then gave to the people. So, if we have faith in Christ, we shall receive from Him the bread of life which the Father has given. Then, when we are so blessed, we should pass the blessings of salvation on to others.
MIRACLE TOOK PLACE ON THE SEA OF GALILEE?
"When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, 'It is I; don't be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading" (John 6:16-21; see also Matthew 14:22, 23 and Mark 6:45-51).
After the disciples pushed their small boat out into the sea, a storm broke upon them. As they battled with the oars in the mounting tempest, the boat began to sink. But the Savior, who had been praying for them on the mountain, had not forgotten them. Walking to the shore, He saw them struggling hopelessly against the elements. Continuing, He walked over the sea to His twelve disciples and stood on the water by their storm-tossed ship. "Take courage!" he said. "It is I. Don't be afraid" (Matthew 14:27).
Peter could hardly believe his eyes, but faith rose in his heart, and he asked if he might not come to the Master on the foaming waves. Jesus told him, "Come!" With his eyes fixed on Jesus, Peter stepped out onto the angry sea. At first, he walked securely, but as he thought of the danger that surrounded him he lost faith, and down he went into the raging deep! As he sank, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately, Jesus took his outstretched hand and lifted him up. " 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?' " (Matthew 14:31). Together they walked back to the boat, and as soon as they stepped aboard, the wind ceased and they landed safely.
There are times when we are all very much like Peter, but if we keep our eyes fixed upon the Savior, our footsteps won't slide, nor will life's tempests engulf us. When Jesus told Peter to come to Him, He did not call him to an untimely death by drowning. It was the disciple's own fearfulness and doubt that proved his near ruin.
As we follow Christ in His ministry, we see that He has received from His Father absolute power over all the forces of nature. Even the winds and the waves are subject to Him. Earlier in His ministry, while crossing the lake with His disciples, He rebuked the howling winds and made a storm to cease. When physical disasters strike without warning today, it is encouraging to know that the same Jesus is still able to protect His children (see Luke 8:22-25; Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41).
DID CHRIST REVEAL HIS POWER OVER LIVING CREATURES?
Christ had been teaching the multitude from Peter's boat. After His sermon, He dismissed the people and told Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his net. But the disciples had been fishing all night with no success. If they couldn't catch fish at night, the best time for fishing in Galilee, how could they catch them during the daytime? Nevertheless, at Christ's command, Peter let down his net, and so great was the catch of fish that the strong cords of the net broke, as he was pulling in the prize.
As James and John came to his aid, Peter was seized with the realization that he, a sinful man, was standing in the presence of Divinity. Overwhelmed with the thought, he fell at Jesus' feet, crying, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8).
It was fitting that Peter should act as he did. Probably never before had there been such a large catch of fish on Galilee. Peter and all the disciples now realized that not only the winds and the waves obeyed Christ's words, but also the fish which swam in the deepand all living things, for that matter. (Read also about the miracle of the coin and the fish in Matthew 17:24-27.)
Jesus was indeed the miracle working Son of God. No wonder Peter fell at His feet in adoration! And so may we all honor and worship Him who did such wonders for the good of mankind.
THREE IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT MIRACLES
1. Not all miracles are from God. Satan also has the power to perform certain "counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9; see also 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15). Only a study of God's Word will enable us to differentiate between the two classes. Miracles, therefore, are not the crowning evidence of Christ's divinity. The fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in the Jesus' life and ministry, death and resurrection, are the supreme proof that He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
2. Christ never performed a miracle merely to gratify curiosity (see Luke 23:8-11). All His miracles were done in answer to a deep human need. They were not merely signs of His power, but evidences of His deep love for, and interest in, humanity.
3. When Christ ordained His disciples, He gave to them the power to perform miracles (see Matthew 10:1, 8; Mark 16:15-18). By faith in His Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they were to work as He worked for the sick and the helpless. Even today, we are instructed to pray for the sick (See James 5:13-15). The gifts of the Spirit are to be with the church to the end of time (see Ephesians 4:8, 11-15; 1 Corinthians 12). Whenever human beings reach their extremity, God has opportunity to help and to heal.
Yes, "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). And so, friend, if you have a problem and have done all you can to relieve the situation, ask God to help you. He has the powerif you will be believe His promises and obey them (see 1 John 3:22, 23).
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(Taken from Bible Readings for the Home, page 163.)
manuscript author: Beatrice S. Neall