Eight Miracles in John’s Gospel

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“Although the evidence is limited concerning most particular miracles, all of the many ancient sources that comment on the issue agree that Jesus and his early followers performed miracles.”[1] In the book of John, there are eight miracles in that Jesus performed which revealed His deity.  “He claims a unique relationship with the Father, a statement the Jews understood as a claim to deity (5:18).”[2]  More importantly, Jesus equaled Himself with God.  “The Jews recognized his claim meant that he was asserting that God was his own Father, his Father in a special sense, for he was ‘making himself equal to God.”[3]  By showing those around Him these particular miracles, Jesus was in fact claiming Himself not only to be deity, but to be God incarnate.

First Miracle

In chapter 2 of the Gospel of John, Jesus attended a wedding in Cana with His mother, and eventually the wine ran out, which prompted His mother Mary to approach Jesus and tell Him.  Jesus responded by saying “My hour has not yet come,” (John 2:4b, NIV).  “He performs His miracles at His appointed time and for the purpose that people might believe that He is the Son of god and might have life through His name.”[4]  Mary then tells the servants to “do whatever he tells you,” (John 2:5b, NIV), which is followed by Jesus directing them to fill the pots with water.  After this is accomplished, the water is miraculously turned into wine, and the master of the banquet claims that they saved the best wine till last, when usually it is served first.  Jesus’ miracle performed at Cana is an example of His deity because God is the sole creator, and in this Christ created wine out of water.  “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory,” (John 2:11a, NIV).

Second Miracle

In John 4, Jesus heals a royal official’s son from near death while in Cana.  The official begged Jesus to heal His son (4:47), but Jesus responded with “’Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe,’” (John 4:48, NIV).  The official pleaded Jesus to visit his child before he dies, but instead Jesus told him, “your son will live,” (John 4:50, NIV), and he believed His word and went back home to see his son alive.  As he travelled back home, his servants met him and told him his son was alive and well.  Of course, he was curious as to when he was healed and asked about what time it happened.  The servants replied, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him,” (John 4:52b, NIV), and the father understood that this was the time when Jesus told him his son would live, resulting in not only him believing in Jesus, but also his household.  “The first expression of faith was faith in the spoken word of God, and the second expression of faith was in the incarnate Word of God.”[5]

Third Miracle

In John 5, Jesus healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda who had been an invalid for his whole life.  During the “feast of the Jews,” which was most likely Passover, “Jesus saw one man and knew (Greek, gous) he had been by the pool a long time.”[6]  He then asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6b, NIV).  The lame man tells Jesus he is unable to get down into the pool because of his condition, and people keep going ahead of him.  Emphatically, Jesus said, “Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk,” (John 5:8b, NIV), and immediately the man picked up his mat and walked.  Being that this took place on the Sabbath, the Jews were quick to judge the lame man for carrying a load more than a turtledove, violating their sacred law.  “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him,” (John 5:16, NIV).  However, in response to this, Jesus likewise claimed to be equal with God by saying, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and too I am working,” (John 5:17b, NIV).  Moreover, Jesus used the term “My Father.”  “By using this title of God, Jesus was claiming a unique relationship with God.  The Jews understood this to be a claim to be equal with God in nature.”[7]

Fourth Miracle

In John 6, Jesus miraculously feeds roughly 5,000 people on a mountain from a small basket of some bread and fish.  One of the disciples, Andrew, brought a young boy to Jesus who had this basket of food and asked, “but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9, NIV).  Jesus wanted everybody to sit down, took the loaves and then gave thanks, thus distributing “to those who were seated as much as they wanted.  He did the same with the fish,” (John 6:11, NIV).  Because Jesus claimed to be the “bread of life,” he is inadvertently asserting that while the Israelites were in the wilderness and God provided them manna for food, likewise Jesus is offering the bread which He fed the 5,000 as a metaphor for the everlasting gift of life in which He is promising.  Jesus is God, and is only able to offer the bread of life, like in the wilderness, to those who received it.  “In any case, there was a Jewish expectation that when the Messiah came the miracle of the manna would be renewed.”[8]  “Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” (John 6:35, NIV).

Fifth Miracle

In John 6 as well, Jesus walked on the water which took place later that evening after His fourth miracle at the pool of Bethesda.  When the disciples went down to the lake and got into the boat and set out for Capernaum, a storm approached and the water was beginning to get rough (6:18).  When they saw Jesus walking on the water, “Jesus calmed the fears of His disciples by revealing to the His true identity in the midst of the storm.  He said, ‘It is I’ (ego eimi, 6:20), which is the Old Testament identification of Jehovah, ‘I am.’”[9]  When the disciples had received Him as Lord and God, “the storm began to end (6:21).”[10]

Sixth Miracle

In John 9, Jesus healed a blind man after He passed by him, knowing that he had been blind since he was born.  The disciples asked if his infirmity was the result of his parent’s sins (i.e. Exodus 20:5, Ezekiel 18:20, et. al.).  Even though it can be demonstrated that these verses teach a collective punishment for the nation of Israel, or that idolatry will continue onto the children if the parents don’t stop worshipping them, nonetheless, they believed that the blind man might be suffering from his parent’s sin.  “Jesus answered His disciples’ question by telling them that sin was not the only reason to suffer from physical afflictions.  In this case, a man was born blind ‘that the works of God might be displayed in him’ (9:3).”[11]  Jesus used clay and spittle to heal his blindness because “spittle was believed to have curative powers,”[12] and “Sabbath laws of the Jews specifically forbid kneading clay with spittle.”[13]  Afterwards, Jesus sent him to the Messiah’s pool, the pool of Siloam, because not “only is this idea closely related to the sending of the Messiah into the world by God, but also one of the titles of the Messiah, ‘Shiloh’ (Gen. 49:10; Is 8:6), is actually translated ‘Siloam’ by the Septuagint translators of Isaiah 8:6.”[14]  This miracle asserts the deity of Christ when He reminded His followers that He is the “light of the world” which “not only applies to His incarnation, life and ministry as recorded in the Gospels, but also the various Christophanies in the Old Testament.”[15]

Seventh Miracle

In John 11, Jesus raises His friend Lazarus from the dead.  This miracle in not recorded in the other Gospels, but is very profound in and of itself because it exemplifies that Christ is able to bring life back from the dead, clearly showing His power over death, a facet only God had the ability to overcome.  Lazarus was sick and close to death when Jesus heard about it, and decided to stay where He was a few more days so that “the sickness was not unto death but rather for the glory of God (11:4).”[16]  Although Lazarus’ sisters were distraught as to why Jesus had waited so long, “In reality Jesus was right on time.”[17]  Once Jesus arrived at the tomb, He called out to literally saying, “Lazarus, out here!”[18]  “Jesus again uses the ‘I am’ (Greek, ego eimi) formula to reveal Himself” when He tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life,” (John 11:25, NIV).

Eighth Miracle

In John 21, after Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead, His disciples were fishing and unable to catch any fish.  Jesus appeared to them on the shore, “but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus,” (John 21:4b, NIV).  Jesus asked them if they had caught anything, and most likely frustrated, they replied that they hadn’t. Without realizing who it was yet, Jesus told them to throw their nets over the right side of the boat, and they immediately caught so much fish their nets were “unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish,” (John 21:6, NIV).  But John noticed Him and acknowledge that it was their Lord.  The then ate with Jesus as He told them to “take care of my sheep,” (John 21:15-17, NIV).  This miracle shows the deity of Christ as three possible facets concerning His nature.  “First, Christ could have used His creative power to create the fish.  Second, He could have used His omnipotent power to guide the fish from some other place in the lake into their net.  Third, He could have used His omniscience and. seeing the fish coming, called for the disciples to cast the net on the other side of the boat where the fish were swimming.”[19]  All three evidences proving that Jesus Christ is God incarnate.

“Jesus’ miracles were fundamentally different from the wonders performed by pagan magicians or Jewish holy men.”[20]  The Gospel of John’s miracles clearly portray Jesus Christ as the “I am” of the Old Testament, Jehovah God, creator of the world.  Precisely why the apostle Paul said, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him,” (Colossians 1:16, NIV).  The purpose of John’s Gospel is to teach this fundamental truth so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name,” (John 20:31, NIV).

Bibliography

William L. Craig, On Guard, (Colorado Springs, David C. Cook, 2010).

Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live, (Chattanooga, AMG, 2002).

Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1989).

Craig S. Keener, Miracles:  The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2011).

Footnotes

[1] Craig S. Keener, Miracles:  The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2011), 22.

[2] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live, (Chattanooga, AMG, 2002), 47.

[3] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1989), 29.

[4] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2002), 20.

[5] Ibid., 44.

[6] Ibid., 49.

[7] Ibid., 50-51.

[8] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1989), 31.

[9] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live, (Chattanooga, AMG, 2002), 61.

[10] Ibid., 62.

[11] Ibid., 90.

[12] Ibid., 91.

[13] Ibid., 91

[14] Ibid., 91.

[15] Ibid., 91.

[16] Ibid., 106.

[17] Ibid., 106.

[18] Ibid., 112.

[19] Ibid., 213-214.

[20] William L. Craig, On Guard, (Colorado Springs, David C. Cook, 2010), 214.