Doug Bookman

Familiarity has dulled our amazement. We know about the water becoming wine, Christ striding on the waves, the blind soaking in new light, the wind obeying, and even Lazarus living again. Compared to the reaction of those who saw Jesus's miracles firsthand, our response is much more tepid. Some people back then followed, some snarled, some condemned, but none ignored.

To get at the reason why Jesus performed His miracles, we need to unearth the expectations of those who lived at that time. From our perspective, we know who Jesus claimed to be—the Messiah and God in sandals. But the people of ancient Israel had no New Testament to study. They had the Old Testament, the teachings of the respected rabbis, and hope.

Jesus strode into the midst of their hope—hope to be free of oppression from distant Rome—with a bold claim. The prophecies were fulfilled in Him. The Messiah had come to draw people to the Kingdom of God. While He had no sword that they could see, they could see Him healing their friends and relatives. They could see the power of God moving through the hills. They'd read about the great miracles of Moses and Joshua, Daniel and Elijah, but seeing them was another matter.

The miracles themselves were not ways for Jesus to show off His power, especially since He had given up His former glory to come to earth and do the will of the Father in heaven. Instead, the miracles vindicated His claims about Himself and His teaching. Although He didn't need to perform any miracles and refused to perform them on demand, they came so that others might believe (John 10:37-38).

With all the healings and weather control, however, it's easy to forget the greatest miracle Jesus performed. Being dead and in the grave, Jesus took His life back and delivered a confirmation of His Kingship that no one could ignore.

Adapted from the lecture notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).