Summary: The reason for Jesus’ miracles, is to validate his office, his mission, and his message. Today, miraculous healings are not badges of prophetic office, but are, instead, answers to prayer by those who have access to God through His Son Jesus Chr
One theme that immediately jumps out at us today from the lessons – particularly the Old Testament Lesson from 2 Kings and the Gospel lesson from Mark – is the theme of healing. The Old Testament lesson, of course, might be called the ultimate miracle of healing, when Elisha raises the Shunnemite woman’s son from the dead. Jesus performed several resurrections as well, but the gospel lesson doesn’t concern a resurrection. Rather it mentions the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever, and after that, his healing of a great number of people who seem to have overwhelmed the place in Capernaum where Jesus and his disciples were staying.
We will come across several of these miracles of healing in the ministry of Jesus in the coming weeks. Next week’s Gospel lesson concerns Jesus’ cleansing of a leper. The week after that the gospel lesson is the healing of a paralitic. In view of this, today I want to clear up some common misconceptions about miracles generally and miracles of healing in particular. Miracles of healing occur many times in Jesus’ ministry, and also in the ministry of Jesus’ Apostles as they begin their work after the Ascension. If we are to avoid the errors of faith and practice which have vexed and perplexed Christians for centuries, when they think about miracles of healing, we need to rightly understand these miracles, particularly their purpose and significance.
The first thing we must keep clearly in mind is that the healings in today’s lessons, and all those like them, are signs. They attract attention, and they are SUPPOSED to attract attention. They attract attention because they are unusual, or unexpected. People are supposed to NOTICE the miracle, including miracles of healing, and to MARVEL at them. This is why they are called wonders – they make onlookers gaze in wonder and astonishment.
But, the point of a miracle is not merely to entertain by astonishing us. The miracle worker does NOT offer the miracle to generate a chorus of GEE WHIZ! from those who are standing by. Miracles have meaning, including miracles of healing. People are supposed to see the sign and to understand something they did not understand before. That is why they are NOT ONLY called wonders, but also signs.
As we will see when Jesus performs many of his miracles of healing, THAT THING he wishes to signify by the miracle may vary from healing to healing. But all miracles of healing, including the ones in today’s Old Testament and Gospel lessons, have a common purpose as signs. And that purpose is this: they validate, or confirm the office or mission of the one who performs the miracle.
We can see this clearly in the second Book of Kings, in which we find the record of the resurrection of the Sunnemite woman’s son. This miracle is one of 16 miracles credited to the prophet Elisha in this section of 2 Kings. Scripture records that the prophet Elijah performed eight miracles. His disciple and successor Elisha prayed he would receive a double portion of his master’s spirit when he assumed his mantle as a prophet in Israel. His request was granted, and one evidence of this is that Scripture records not eight, but sixteen miracles.