Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P37 (01-18-21)
The older you get, you will experience the death of someone you love, of a mother or father or a close friend. Or you may be experiencing a very difficult situation where a close friend is sick, or is in a critical accident, and is unconscious. You call on others to pray with you. Now, do we pray in accordance with God’s will or do we expect God to answer whatever we pray? Do we falsely think that since God lives in me, and He healed people, that, therefore, we can ask anything in His name and He will do it? In other words, am I telling God what to do so that He must respond to me, or am I listening to the voice of God and responding to what He has intended me to do or say?
Do we keep looking for a sign and a wonder but never come to faith in Christ, looking for only those things of this world, that are temporary and do not last? Do we look beyond the physical miracle and see that the greater miracle is when someone comes to new life in Christ Jesus? For physical healing is temporary. We will all die someday, even of old age. Jesus came to restore the whole man to what true humanity is, Christ in you, your only hope of glory. And even this present world is reserved to be ultimately destroyed by fire, so that a new heaven and a new earth will be created where righteousness dwells. So what manner of life should we live, knowing these things? Do we look for what Christ came to give, Himself, eternal life, to be lived out in faith?
So as we read about the miracles of Jesus, and think about the purpose of Jesus performing miracles, and the manner of life he lived in human form, totally dependent on the Father, we learn something about how God intended for us to live, in the same pattern of faith, of dependency He did. We learn that as wonderful as physical healings are, there is a deeper spiritual message, a deeper need in the heart of man that God came to do for us. You will notice with every miracle that Jesus ever did, it was always there to ultimately teach a spiritual truth. The miracles Jesus did were to verify the fact that he indeed came from God, not for his benefit but ours, and in so doing, enabling us to believe in his name, and believe in his ultimate provision for forgiveness on a cross and life through his resurrection, which is what life is indeed.
Let us ponder over the examples of some of the miracles Jesus did. We read about the miraculous catch of fish that Jesus performed while out on a fishing boat with Peter and his companions, about Jesus healing of the royal official’s son who was sick, about Jesus raising the dead son of a widow back to life, and restoring the sight of two blind men on the rightside who called out to Jesus for mercy.
In each of these miracles, we learn of God’s nature, of His compassion, mercy and love to mankind, that He has authority over everything, and can make the blind see, the dead come alive, and meet our daily needs. Yet He came to meet a deeper need in our heart beyond the immediate need in the physical realm. He not only healed a blind man, but made the blind man have new spiritual sight. He not only made the dead son come alive again, but met the cry of the widow, and demonstrated the depth of His love for her. He not only talked to fish, but revealed the authority of God over all creation that the disciples left everything behind and followed him to learn how to become fishers of men. God touched the depth of the human beyond the immediate healing to those whose hearts were open to receive all that God came to give.
It has been an exciting study, and why shouldn’t it be? It is a study about Jesus Christ, which is what Christianity is all about. Christianity is Christ. As we mentioned before, history is His story. The whole realm of life itself is wrapped up in this person called Jesus of Nazareth.
What we are going to study today is how the Lord proved His claims by the miracles He did. Before we begin, it is probably important for us to understand something. That was done for our benefit. In other words, God did not need to perform miracles in order to prove himself to be God to himself. But because man, in our hearts, in many instances, are cold and hard, or just plain stupid, it is hard for us to see and believe. So, what you will notice with every miracle that Jesus ever did, it was always there to ultimately teach a spiritual truth. Any physical miracle that is done is temporary. It makes no difference what you talk about. It is temporary. Anything done to this earth is temporary, for one day it will disappear.
2 Peter 3:9-13
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be burned up.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[eagerly await for the day of God to come] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
You can have the greatest physical miracle done to you, but you are still going to die. So it just does not make any difference about any of those miracles. It is short-lived at the very most.
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
But, in Christ’s day, He did those miracles in order to prove and verify who He was as God. The ability that was given to the apostles after His resurrection was also the same. Those miracles were done to draw attention of the fact that these people were indeed representatives of God. The way that you can do that is through the miracles.
The problem with that is miracles can also be duplicated. They can be duplicated to look like a God miracle. They are not, but to make them look like they are. Therefore, people can be duped when they are totally enmeshed in signs and wonders and miracles. That is why you will read passages in the bible about that.
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
They believed the miracles he did and they believed. They saw these miracles and believed in his name, but Jesus did not entrust himself to them because he knew man. He does not need the testimony of man concerning man.
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Remember after feeding five thousand, the people followed him over to Capernaum. Jesus said to them, “The only reason you are here is because of the miracles I did. You saw me feed the five thousand. So the reason you are here is to get more food.”
So we have to understand all evil is a perversion of good. What God made for good, Satan comes along and perverts it and turns it into evil. We need to understand that even when Jesus said, “you are an adulterous generation, constantly looking for signs and miracles.”
4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
Another observation was of John the Baptist. Jesus referred to John the Baptist as no one like him.
27 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’[Malachi 3:1]
28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Yet, John the Baptist never did a miracle. We have to understand these things. The reason I am bringing it up is to keep these things in balance. Miracles are marvelous but miracles are temporary. They serve a purpose, to verify and solidify the fact that what Jesus was saying was true. They are to verify the fact that he indeed came from God, not for his benefit but ours, and in so doing, enabling us to believe in his name, and believe in his ultimate provision for forgiveness on a cross and life through his resurrection, which is what life is indeed.
Let us continue in our study in A Closer Look at Jesus Christ, in Chapter 11: He Proved His Claims by Miracles. We will read from our key verse in Acts 2:22, where Peter is proclaiming this.
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
When you are accrediting something, it is kind of like you go through an accreditation. It means you earned your degree. You have been accredited to do something. This man was accredited by God. In other words, he was shown, or given the authority, the certificate or whatever you want to call that, was done through the miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him. Seeing the miracles, the wonders and the signs that God did through Jesus Christ was what accredited unto him as being the one whom God had sent, and that is the Messiah, His Son.
So what we are going to look at here is are some of the miracles that Jesus did. We will take a look at them, and see if they do not encourage us as well. So turn to Luke 5:4-5.
What did Peter literally think about Christ? Here is Jesus, a carpenter, in a natural means. He is going to be telling Peter how to fish, and to lower his net.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Then Peter does so, and we read what Jesus did.
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
Here is a story about this man, who by human nature, was a carpenter by trade, saying to professional fishermen, “here is how you fish”. If I was there, I would have said, “Who are you? I do not tell you how to build houses. Do not tell me how to fish.” But it says, ”because he said so”. That is all he said. “Because you say so I will let down the nets.”
There are a lot of times in our lives that is the case. It does not make sense what the Lord tells us to do. It sounds contrary to what is natural but “because you say so, Lord, I will go ahead and do it.”
Jesus was performing a phenomenal miracle. That was not just some lucky catch. These were professional fishermen, who knew the water. Here is Jesus, who knew where the fish were. He not only was the one who knew where the fish were, but called them there.
Now, look at the reaction of the disciples, including Peter, James and John.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
He told them to pull out into the deeper waters, and let down their net for a catch. The response to that was, “we worked hard, and we never caught anything. I do not know how you know more than we do, but because you say so we will do it”. When they did so, they acted by faith in what Christ had told them to do. They caught such a large number of fish their nets began to break. They had to call the other partners to come over to help them. That would be humiliating to ask for help for all that was caught over there.
You look at the reaction of those people when they see that. We talked about that in John last week, when Peter saw the miracle that Jesus did, he said ”Go away from me. I am a sinful man.” The same type of response comes up again. There is fear that takes place, when you see that kind of a natural miracle taking place. You would think everyone would fall on their knees and say “Praise God”, but there is a fear connected with that because it is totally contrary to normal nature. But Jesus says this.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
What was the outcome of that? What took place? Did they respond by saying, “We will make a lot more money with Jesus around.” No, they pulled their boats on the shore and they left everything and followed him.
We need to take a look at that. There is an interesting observation, that although it might be a little bit of semantics, I do not think so, when we talk about following Jesus. In this particular case, no one had followed him yet as to where he was going. We follow him, and so do you and I, follow him to the cross. When you are following someone, they are out in front of you, and you are tagging along behind. That is what we do at the cross. He is there at the cross, and we follow him to the cross. That is why there are people who are professors but not possessors. We never followed him to where he was going, to the cross and then to the empty tomb.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Once we come to His resurrected life, and are indwelt by Him, we are no longer following Him some place. We are now, according to scripture, are being led internally by His Spirit living in us. We are not trying to emulate somebody or to walk in their footsteps, as sometimes we will hear. It sounds good, but that is not what we are doing. He is not out in front of us. He is living in us. He is there continually renewing our minds, and teaching us truth, hopefully, and letting that truth do what it will do, and that is to set you free.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
But if a person is not free, is uptight and full of misery, there is a reason for it. You are not abiding in truth. So we need to see that these miracles have great meaning to them and to us, in our day to day life.
Now let us go to John 4:49-52 and see another example of Christ performing a miracle.
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
In other words, he had encountered him and was begging Jesus to come, because he had a child that was dying.
50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
Now, that is all Jesus said.
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
What was the purpose of the miracle? So he and his household would believe. What was the miracle? Well, at the very time Jesus told him, “Go home. Your son will live.”, the fever broke and his son lived. Once again, it tells us, that when Jesus says, “I have been given all authority on heaven and earth, over all things”, we realize Jesus also has the authority over these types of things. He has the authority to say that the boy is going to live. The fever is going to break. Why? Because the Father told him to.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
There again, there is a misconception, that many times is in the Christian faith. We believe that if Jesus did that, and he can just heal at will, then I guess we can. The issue is, “Yes, he could, but he didn’t.” In other words, did Christ heal everybody he came in contact with? No, he did not. How come? Did he not have compassion? Did he not have the power to do so? What was the problem there?
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
The issue is Jesus said, “In my humanity, I walk in total dependency upon my Father and I do nothing unless the Father tells me to do it. If the Father tells me to do it, I will do it. He will do it through me. But if the Father does not tell me, I do not do anything.”
49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
So when Jesus said to this man, “Go home. Your son is going to be well”, it is because the Father told him the son is well. So Jesus has authority to say, “Your son is well”. How could he have known that unless God had told him? So that is what the entire Christian is about today. It is listening to what Jesus says. That is what took place. The man took him at his word, stepping out and acting on that.
If a person is walking in a newness of life, and God will never tell him to do something contrary to the word of God, then you act upon that and you are going to see a miracle in front of your face. That is the way a miracle takes place.
We have people today who are involved in a teaching that is very heretical in nature, that we come down to the point where we think, “I am a new creation. Jesus lives in me, and I am in his body, and I have been given all authority, so everything that I think, and everything I say must be from Jesus.” Thinking like that, I am like a little Jesus, and I have become a little god here on this earth even though scripture says we cannot discern good from evil. We say “Yes we can discern good from evil and right from wrong” not realizing that the only way you, as a child of God can discern good from evil and right from wrong if you discern it out of the word of God, but so instead you make it up on your own, and you make decisions on your own, such as judging man’s motives and thoughts. Unless you are God, you better stay out of that arena. Yet people are teaching that.
There are people teaching that we do not have flesh. It is just gone. They say, “We do not have indwelling sin living in us. It is just plain gone.” Now, I look at that and say, “You will have to tear up a lot of scriptures with that type of teaching.” Paul very definitely states the fact that it is no longer I doing it but it is sin living in me. That is just one passage among many.
16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[sin-indwelling flesh] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
Also, take a look at your mindset and your actions and interview your wife and your husband, if you do not think you have indwelling sin living in you. What is taking place is people are getting puffed up with these idle notions, that “Christ is alive living in me and I do not have a sin nature any more”, or “I do not have indwelling sin.” I still have a human nature just like I have a spiritual nature.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
I only have one identity. I do not have two identities. I am not a child of God and a child of the devil at the same time. Before I came to Christ, I was a child of the devil. It makes no difference how nice I was or how I acted. That is who I was. My father was that of the devil. Today, I am a child of God. I only have one identity but that identity lives in a body of flesh. In that body that we live in, it has indwelling sin living in it. I have a nature that is human and that new identity that I have is living, or indwelling, in a nature that is human.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
So there is where the conflict comes. It will always be warring. The spirit will always be warring against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit. That will be going on until we go on to be with the Lord. Ejected out of this body is then where we will strictly be a spiritual being. We will be out of this body and see Him as He really is. I cannot wait for that day, and I am sure everyone around me cannot wait for that day as well. That is the condition of man, and we have to understand that.
1 John 3:1-3
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
As a spiritual being, I have the ability to listen to what God is saying, matching that up to the word of God. If it is contrary in any way, then it is not God telling you. But if it is consistent, then we can act upon it and we will see a miracle of God.
Let us look at Luke 7:11-16 for another miracle of Jesus.
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”
You take a look at that, first of all, what was the motivation for raising the dead man? First of all, it shows the compassion of God. Once again, Jesus did nothing unless the Father told him to. So the compassion of God said, “I am going to raise that boy.” The Lord saw her. His heart went out to her, “Don’t cry”. In other words, it was motivated by compassion. How did he do it? He touched the coffin. He said “Young man, get up”. He spoke in the authority God gave him to speak. God told him what to say. Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you get up.” And the young man got up. So when God says, “get up”, you might as well get up. There is no sense in lying around any longer. So what was the response to that. They said, “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”
17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
Once again, those miracles were constantly what God used to solidify the truth that Jesus, the one that I have written about, the whole Old Testament is about, that the Messiah is here. Those miracles were proving that to the people to whom he had written in the Old Testament that He was coming and is now stating He is here.
Let us look at Matthew 20:30-34 about the blind man.
30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
There again, you see the compassion of God there. Here were some men. What kind of faith did those men have? They knew something, for they referred to Jesus as the Lord, the son of David. They understood that. They asked for mercy upon us. So, Jesus asked them, “What do you want me to do?” We want our sight. So he touched their eyes and gave them sight. What was the result of that? They got up and followed him.
Following him not for the rest of their lives to be on a circuit talking about how I once was blind but now I see, but of seeing how that physical healing was a picture of the spiritual healing that is more important than any physical healing will ever begin to be. To realize that we are blind spiritually and to be able to see spiritually is the greatest miracle that will ever occur on the face of this earth.
My spiritual birth back in 1969 is the greatest miracle I will ever experience. There is nothing to equal that. One day I was going in one direction and the next day I was going in another. One day I was blind as a bat, and the next day you can see the wonders of Christ Jesus. One day being a total illiterate to spiritual things and the next day getting into the bible and being able to understand and absorb spiritual things, a total new birth in Christ, the greatest miracles that man will ever experience.
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