I had an English professor in college who frequently reminded the class that she expected papers to be to the point. “I don’t want to see any fluff and nutter,”she would say, which was her way of warning us not to use filler material to reach a word count. I had another professor who often reminded us to “keep the main thing the main thing.”These are great rules, but anyone who’s written an essay knows how hard they can be to follow.
Were the authors of the four Gospels transgressors of these rules? I mean, if the good news is about the death and resurrection of Jesus, then they sure dedicated a lot of space to other things, like the miracles Jesus performed. They clearly drifted from the main point, that is unless there’s more to miracles than we think.
The truth is that Jesus spent so much time performing miracles, and the Gospel writers invested so much space telling us about them, because they aren’t distractions from the good news but part of it! Jesus’ miracles are signs of the Kingdom–they reveal what Jesus’ death and resurrection have accomplished for us. If we want to understand Jesus and the Kingdom he brings us into, we need the miracles.
Here are three things Jesus’ miracles reveal about the Kingdom:
1. Jesus’ miracles reveal who the Kingdom is for.
Jesus’ miracles are shocking, and not just because they are supernatural. Oftentimes the kinds of people Jesus healed and delivered were outcasts and outsiders, the untouchables and undesirables: Gentiles (Matthew 8:5—14), lepers (Matthew 8:2—3), the possessed (Mark 5:1—20), and the dead (John 11:38—44). Jesus crossed taboo social and cultural boundaries and revealed the kind of people who will populate his Kingdom.
We have a tendency to take it upon ourselves to determine who’s in and who’s out, and it’s usually people who think and look like us. Or it’s people who aren’t like us–those who seem to have it more together than we do–and we count ourselves out.
Jesus’ miracles remind us that he came for the sinful, weak, and broken. As Jesus himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”(Mark 2:17).
2. Jesus’ miracles reveal what the Kingdom is about.
Sometimes in our excitement about the cross of Jesus and justification by faith we forget that Jesus has more for us. The Kingdom isn’t less than the forgiveness of sins, but it’s definitely more.
Jesus raised Lazarus from death (John 11:38—44); freed people who were controlled and enslaved by demonic powers (Mark 5:1—20; Matthew 8:16); and mended the bodies of the blind (John 9:1—12), deaf (Mark 7:31—37), and lame (John 5:1—29). The Kingdom is about resurrection, new life, and freedom.
Jesus also turned water into wine to keep a wedding reception alive–he likes to feast and celebrate (John 2:1—11). He multiplied bread and fish so he could serve lunch to thousands–he enjoys hospitality (Matthew 14:13—21; Mark 6:30—44; Luke 9:10—17; John 6:1—15). These miracles reveal that the Kingdom isn’t just for individual souls to enjoy, but where sinners are restored and transformed to actually live together in God’s presence, glorifying and enjoying him forever.
3. Jesus’ miracles reveal where we should expect the Kingdom to come.
There’s a reason Jesus preached about the coming of the Kingdom (Matthew 4:17). It’s because the Kingdom of God is coming to earth and not the other way around. When Jesus performed miracles, the Kingdom of God pierced through the atmosphere and left its mark here, on earth, in our midst. When Jesus returns, it won’t be to take us to another place. He will have heaven in tow, and he’ll transform his first creation into the new heavens and new earth.
If that’s true, then rather than focusing our kingdom expectations elsewhere, we should keep our eyes open around us, in our world, within our communities. We can pray and ask the King to expand the borders of his Kingdom here: saving sinners by grace, righting wrongs, and establishing justice.