Q: You wrote about the Jesus’ parables. Could you talk about his miracles?
Answer: Last week’s column gave a general review of the parables. Each parable depicts a valuable human message and encourages a study to find God’s message.
The parable of the fig tree is a good example with a simple narrative and deep roots. Jesus noticed the fig tree with many green leaves and no fruit. He cursed the tree which caused the roots to wither. This act was confusing to the disciples. After cursing the tree, Jesus went to the temple and found that the church leaders were not honoring God. The parable reveals important truths. God’s people cannot appear to be spiritually sound by outward appearances like the green leaves. They must be rooted in their faith, and they must bear spiritual fruit. (For more information, check www. christiancourier.com or other online sources.)
Parables and miracles were important to Jesus’ ministry, but we can also find miracles that reveal the power given to God’s people in the Old Testament.
One example of this power over nature is in Exodus 9:33: “And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the Lord, and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth.”
Another example is in Exodus 9:8-9 when the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.”
Jesus, in the New Testament, revealed his powers through his miracles. He did not proclaim his powers. He quietly moved among people and performed miracles where he was needed. The miracles are classified as the ones that reveal the deity’s power over nature, such as walking on water and healings that include three types. The first type is the exorcisms noted in Matthew 8:16: “When evening had come, they brought to him many who were demon-possessed. And he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.” Also. Jesus cast out the seven devils in Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2).
The second type is the changing of physical impairments such as blindness, a withered hand and paralysis. The incident of the paralyzed man to whom Jesus gave forgiveness for his sins caused the scribes to question his authority. Jesus gave proof of his power to forgive and heal by action in Mark 2:9, “Stand up and take your mat and walk.”
The ear incident is an interesting miracle. On the night of Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest, Simon Peter had a confrontation with a representative of a Jewish High Priest. Simon Peter cut off his ear. Jesus, to avoid trouble, touched Malchus’ ear and restored it.
The third type of curing is the raising of the dead as witnessed by Lazarus’ family in John 11:1–44. We can note the similarity of this incident with the one in 1 Kings 17:23. When the widow’s son was brought back to life by prayer, Elijah said, “See, thy son liveth.” These miracles speak to God’s promise found in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
These miracles of raising the dead occurred before Jesus’ resurrection and his victory over death. Jesus’ birth, resurrection, and transfiguration are miracles. Rejoice!
Often, like readers, I am left with questions. I continue to read Karl Barth, the theologian who has written extensively about Christianity. I also read of modern scholars’ new interpretations. When my mind overflows with questions, I listen to my heart.
I remain troubled. People of faith consider God’s gift of life to be precious. When a violent act occurs, God’s law is broken and his gift of life is destroyed. It is time to act! Legislative changes can stop the sale of war weapons and vast accumulations of ammunition. Long-term planning can tackle the roots of hatred and provide mental-health help. Whatever it takes — it is time to reveal the moral character of the country.
May God be with all who have lost loved ones to violence. May we honor the loss of lives by finding solutions.
“Oppressive language does more than represent violence, it is violence.” (Thank you, Toni Morrison, Godspeed!)