John Tinkler, Red Row, Morpeth, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
The words that form the title of this meditation are found only once in the Gospels and that is in John chapter 6 verse 2. Many have tried to calculate how many miracles the Lord performed but what is recorded for us, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, shows that the Lord was indeed the Christ of God. Interestingly, in contrast, we have the comment of scripture that John the Baptist did no miracle, John 10. 41.
It is worthy of note that in John chapter 2 verse 23 it states that ‘many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did’. Then, Nicodemus says to the Lord, ‘no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him’, 3. 2. This is the outcome when only one miracle had been recorded, that being at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.
Recalling the woman who touched the hem of the Lord’s garment, Mark 5. 25-34, Matthew points out that many others touched the hem of His garment and were made perfectly whole, 14. 34-36. So many received the benefit of His miraculous powers. It seems, therefore, that heaven alone records each occasion.
Three words can be used for the Lord’s works:
- ‘miracles’ – a supernatural act.
- ‘wonders’ – the effect on those who observed.
- ‘signs’ – spiritual lessons to be derived.
Looking at the miracles recorded in John’s Gospel, John records seven miracles before the cross and one after. He writes in chapter 20 verse 30, ‘And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples’ indicating that John is selective in his recording of the miracles but that they are written, ‘that ye might believe’, v. 31.
First, notice that what is lacking is supplied in each miracle. At the marriage in Cana of Galilee, they had no wine, but wine is supplied in a remarkable way, 2. 1-11. With the second miracle, the nobleman’s son was at the point of death, 4. 47. There seemed to be no hope, but hope was given, ‘thy son liveth’, v. 50. The man at the pool of Bethesda, having been there for thirty-eight years, had ‘no man’, 5. 7, but the man Christ Jesus healed him. In the feeding of the five thousand they had no food, only the meagre supplies of one lad. The Lord fed them, 6. 1-15. When the Lord walked on the water, the disciples were fearful – faith was lacking. Yet, when the Lord spoke to them, He said, ‘be not afraid’, v. 20, and they willingly received Him into the ship. Fear was dispelled. Later, we encounter a man born blind. He has no sight. Indeed, he had never seen – but sight was given, 9. 1-41. In the raising of Lazarus, he was a man who was sick and died. For Lazarus, life was lacking but life was given, 11. 44. Finally, seven disciples were fishing but had caught nothing for their toil – fish were lacking. But the Lord took control, and they received a tremendous catch, 21. 1-14.
Second, note the commands obeyed. In chapter 2 verse 5, we have the only words recorded that the Lord’s mother spoke in this Gospel, ‘Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it’. It is worth tracing this through the miracles in John’s Gospel. Note what the Lord said in chapter 2. He said, ‘Fill the waterpots with water’, then, ‘Draw out now’, vv. 7, 8. The servants obeyed and they brought forth the best wine. In chapter 4, the Lord instructs the nobleman to go home, ‘thy son liveth’, v. 50. He obeyed and his son lived. In chapter 5, the man by the pool heard the Saviour say, ‘take up thy bed, and walk’, v. 8. He did so, and was healed, vv. 9, 11. In chapter 6, the Lord knew what He would do to feed the hungry crowd, but the disciples are told to, ‘Make the men sit down’, v. 10, and they did so in order that the vast company might be fed. How important that things are done decently and in order. Later in that chapter, the Lord walks on the water and said to His disciples, ‘be not afraid’, v. 20, and their fear departed when they realized it was the Lord. In chapter 9, the man born blind is given seven words, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’, v. 7, and he came back seeing. In chapter 11, how is the Lord going to deal with the death of Lazarus? He delays going to Bethany but, having seen where Lazarus was buried, He said, ‘Take ye away the stone’, v. 39, and issued the command, ‘Lazarus, come forth’, v. 43. We read, ‘And he that was dead came forth’, v. 44. In chapter 21, we have an embarrassing night of toil in which no fish were caught. Notice the words of the Saviour, ‘Cast the net on the right side . . . and ye shall find’, v. 6.
Third, note how the Lord is master of each of these miracles. At the wedding, He is master of a dilemma – no wine. With the nobleman’s son, He is the master of distance. At the pool of Bethesda, He is master over the man’s disability. With the feeding of the five thousand, He is master of the distribution to meet the need. In walking on the sea, He is master over danger and despair. In healing the man born blind, He demonstrates that He is master over the man’s physical darkness. When Lazarus was raised, the Lord was master over death. Thinking of the disciples’ disastrous fishing trip, the Lord shows He is master of the deep. What power the Lord demonstrated, enough to show that He is indeed the Christ.
Fourth, as Peter preached concerning the Lord, ‘who went about doing good’, Acts 10. 38, let us note what good or profit the Lord brought.
In chapter 2, the narrative makes it clear that it was six water pots of water, which would contain something like twenty or thirty gallons each, and so it was some task. We read of the reaction of the ruler of the feast, vv. 9, 10, but not the servants. They must fill them to the brim, meaning nothing can be added, and then draw out and distribute it. It was good wine. The Lord brought gladness to the wedding.
In considering the healing of the nobleman’s son, the Lord removed sadness from him. This man showed faith, and, from a distance, the son was healed. Faith rests in God’s word and responds. It requires no sign. May our faith increase in every situation of life.
The scene changes in chapter 5 to a man by a pool. Bethesda looked like a modern hospital’s A & E Department. Many had ‘written him off’ because he had been in that condition for so long, but not the Lord. The man singled out for mercy was nameless, friendless, helpless, hopeless, and useless but he met someone that day with power to heal. Here was someone to help. The cure was as simple as the condition.
Coming to the feeding of the five thousand plus others, it must have been wonderful to witness. In creation, God made something out of nothing and, in feeding the multitude, the Lord from a small amount kept feeding the gathered throng – the lad’s lunch became the meal for the multitude. The Lord had compassion on them all, 6. 5, and met the need of all.
Later in that same chapter, we read of the Lord walking on the water. The Lord’s voice is heard through the storm, ‘It is I’, v. 20. Though many of the disciples had been fishermen and should have known such storms in the past, fear gripped them. It was the Man walking on the water that changed the scene. The difference becomes evident later when these same men are noted for their boldness, Acts 4. 31. His presence and power on and in the sea exemplify what He brings to His own in the troubles and storms of life that may beset us.
As we come to chapter 9, it emphasizes that our Lord was interested in individuals. This is also seen in chapters 4 and 5. Comparing the Lord’s encounter with a woman at the well, ch. 4, and the man born blind, ch. 9, both have an increasing appreciation of Christ. In giving sight to the man, we note the three things the Lord did: ‘made clay . . . anointed the eyes of the blind man . . . and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’, vv. 6, 7. In obedience, we note the three things the man did: ‘He went his way . . . and washed, and came seeing’, v. 7. All of this was ‘that the works of God should be made manifest in him’, v. 3. However, the people took some convincing as to who he was, and one cannot help but feel sorry for him as he was bombarded with questions. One thing was certain, and the words of the man himself tell it so simply, ‘whereas I was blind, now I see’, v. 25. That experience could not be taken away from him and it is a reminder of the power of a personal testimony.
Of the miracles recorded in John’s Gospel, Lazarus is the only beneficiary named. What a delightful story is brought before us in this chapter. It is appropriate that it should be set against the background of chapter 10, ‘he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out’, v. 3. Thus, we read, Jesus ‘cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth’, 11. 43. In essence, Lazarus was a silent man – we never read of a word that he spoke – but his life was a tremendous and effective witness. How is our witness for the Saviour?
The miracle of chapter 21 took place in the days after the Lord’s resurrection. The seven disciples toiled all night and caught nothing – fruitless labour as a reminder of the Lord’s words ‘for without me ye can do nothing’, 15. 5. What a difference when the Lord directs the fishing operation, for He knew where the fish were! Thus, the disciples cast, they caught, and they counted! What had happened? The manpower was the same and the method was the same, but the motivation was different. What a change the Lord wrought!
May the meditation on His miracles in John’s Gospel bow our hearts in greater worship and service for the best of masters.