Miracle and Message
The chief priests sent officers to arrest Jesus but the men returned empty handed. The leaders then asked them, “Why did you not bring Him?” They answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks,” (John 7:45).
What was it that awed these men? Surely the omniscience of Deity, the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God resonated through Christ’s teaching. But there was something more than words. After Jesus had taught on the Sabbath in Capernaum, we read, “And they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority," (Luke 4:32). What was the source of the amazing authority that echoed through the words of Jesus?
Immediately following that statement, we read that a demon manifested in a man in the synagogue. Jesus cast the demon out in a marvelous display of divine authority: “And amazement came upon them all and they began talking with one another, saying, ‘What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out,’” (Luke 4:36).
Notice the linkage of message and miracle. The mighty works of Jesus demonstrated the authority of His words. His works authenticated His words. The miracles validate the message.
Matthew chapter seven closes with this statement: “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their scribes,” (7:28,29).
Matthew chapter eight then records one miraculous demonstration of power after another. Jesus healed a leper (Matt. 8:2-4). He healed a paralyzed man (8:5-13). He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (8:14,15). Then we read: “When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were ill,” (8:16).
We then read the account of two demon possessed men who were completely set free by the Lord (Matt. 8:28-34). Chapter nine continues the narrative of mighty works, including the resurrection of a dead child (9:23-25). Jesus’ works authenticated His words. The linkage between miracle and message is a key to understanding Christ’s proclamation of the kingdom of God.
Jesus began His ministry proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mark 1:15). The kingdom is at hand now, pushing into history, entering hearts and lives. Let’s review what we have said about the kingdom of God.
1. Think of the kingdom of God as a verb.
The word kingdom is a noun but Jesus used it to express the active, dynamic rule of God. When we turn from our sins and place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, God establishes His kingdom in our hearts. The kingdom of God is where God is ruling and as Christ establishes and extends His rule of grace in us, He releases His rule of grace through us into the world around us.
That’s why Jesus said, “For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst (or within you),” (Luke 17:21). The kingdom will someday be established visibly and gloriously over all the earth. But it is present now in the hearts and lives of those in whom the Lord of the kingdom is establishing His rule of grace.
Prior to our new life in Christ, we were living in the kingdom of darkness, under the authority of the powers that worked slavery and destruction in us. It was our sin that gave Satan access to our lives but now in Christ, our sin is forgiven. In that act of redeeming grace, the power and authority of darkness was broken over our lives and the authority, the rule, the kingdom of Jesus is established in us. “For He rescued us from the domain (jurisdiction) of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13,14).
2. Jesus preached the good news of God’s kingdom rule and showed what that looks like.
“And Jesus was going about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people,” (Matthew 4:23 also 9:35).
Jesus proclaimed the presence of the kingdom and the message of the kingdom was authenticated in works of power and mercy. The inbreaking of the kingdom of God in powerful signs and wonders is what gives authority to the preaching of the kingdom.
The kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom message is demonstrated in kingdom works which show the mercy and power and kindness of God in the lives of lost, broken, hurting people.
And remember, where God is ruling, He is over-ruling anything that would resist His dominion. He is over-ruling darkness with light, over-ruling guilt and condemnation with forgiving grace, over-ruling enslavement and addiction with liberty, over-ruling death with life.
3. Jesus instructed His disciples to do the same.
“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness ... And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:1, 5-8).
When in Jesus’ name we feed the hungry, comfort the widow, provide for the orphan, pray for the sick, visit the prisoner, pray over those who are bound by demonic addictions and bondages, we are showing forth the presence of the kingdom of God. Of course, the greatest miracle of all is when we preach the Gospel and spiritually blind eyes see the truth, spiritually dead souls are awakened to faith and experience the forgiving grace of Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life.
We cannot limit our kingdom works merely to the preaching of the gospel. James exhorts us, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” (James 1:27).
The Lord exhorts us through Isaiah, “Is not this the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him ...” (Isaiah 58:6,7).
“And He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing,” (Luke 9:1,2 also 10:8,9).
The Good News of the kingdom is this:
Where God rules, God over-rules:
light shines into darkness, the guilty are forgiven,
the broken are made whole, unruly nature submits,
that which was dead is raised in resurrection life.
We may not always understand God’s answer to our prayers. We may at times feel that there has been no demonstration of kingdom signs and wonders. Nevertheless, God is present, His kingdom is breaking into history and He invites us to open the brokenness of our lives to His truth, His mercy and His power.
Jesus preached the inbreaking presence of the kingdom of God on earth and demonstrated that presence with mighty works of mercy and power. The works of Jesus included authority over nature, authority over demons, authority over disease, authority over death, authority to forgive sin and authority to give eternal life.
We have all experienced some, if not many, of these signs and wonders. When we were spiritually dead to God and separated from God by our sin, the Lord awakened us to our sin and separation, brought us to repentance, gifted us with faith in His saving grace, poured His forgiving grace into our soul and birthed us into relationship with God and gifted us with everlasting life — that was a miracle, in fact, the greatest of all signs and wonders.
When we were bound up in habits, mind-sets, addictions which enslaved us and we prayed and the Lord broke the power of the addiction and set us free, that was a miracle.
When we were captured by the memory of trauma or abuse, bruised and broken in our soul by the sins of others against us and compounded by our own choices, and the Lord came and poured His forgiving, liberating grace into our soul and set us free, that was a miracle.
When we were oppressed by demonic attacks against our life, our family, our business, our ministry and we prayed and the Lord rebuked the powers of darkness — that was a miracle.
When we were bound emotionally in depression, confusion, discouragement and we prayed and the Lord broke that binding and set us free — that was a miracle.
And although I can’t prove it until I get to heaven, I am certain that there have been times when the prayers of the church have released rain or turned away storms. I can’t prove it until I get to heaven but I am certain there have been times when the prayers of the church have turned away destruction from a family or city or nation and released blessing.
We have all seen signs and wonders and we have all been blessed by signs and wonders which we did not see. Proclaiming the kingdom of God is more than just words.
Jesus testified: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative but the Father abiding in Me does His works,” (John 14:10).
God the Father authenticated the words of Jesus with works of power and mercy. When we study the parables and teachings of Jesus, remember those words were spoken in the context of amazing works — signs and wonders — which lent authority to His words.
The kingdom of God is at hand. This is a message of good news. The kingdom message is demonstrated in kingdom works.
The Lord Jesus is still validating the message of the kingdom with the works of the kingdom. We are called to be His voice speaking His truth but we are also called to be His hand touching with His mercy and power.
The study of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, holy Lamb for sinners slain and Risen Lord, can never be an intellectual exercise only. It must also be a process of allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our inner nature, our soul, in conformity to the heart of Jesus. He wants not merely to instruct us but also to conform us to Himself so He can perform His works through us, release His life and ministry through us.
He establishes His kingdom in us so He can extend His kingdom through us. The true disciple of Jesus not only proclaims Jesus’ words but also shares in His works.
1. What does this statement mean, “Jesus’ works validated His words”?
2. Can you describe one sign and wonder that you have experienced?