Jesus: A Portrait

Chapter 5: The Meanings of The Miracles

The Evangelists: "... understood the miracles to be prophetic gestures that prefigured the sacraments of the Church - above all, the light and life communicated by Baptism and the Eucharist respectively"; deliverance: "The Gospels viewed human existence as a battlefield dominated by one or other supernatural force: God or Satan"; Jesus aware of struggling with the devil, used his divine power to liberate people enslaved by demonic power (p65). Jesus did not lay on hands, use incantation or pray to God, he simply rebuked them, commanded them and cast them out; Mark 5:1-20; end of Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:13); Satan far from absent in John though no exorcisms, 8.44 (p66). Forgiveness of sins Mark 2:1-12, again links disability with sin; Mark 3:1-6; Luke: healing and forgiveness Luke 5:17-26: "For Luke the forgiveness of sins is the spiritual equivalent of healing the sick and the raising of the dead. Both belong to that fullness of salvation which Jesus brings"; Luke 7: 1. Physical healing to the slave and the son; 2. Penitence; 3. The anointing woman's love (p67). Grushenka and Alyosha in Karamazov; light for the blind Matthew 11:5; Isaiah 42:6-7 (p68). Physical and spiritual sight (Mark 4:11-12; 6:51-52); Mark 7:31-37 on deafness, Mark 8:22-26 on blindness, contrasted with Mark 8:14-21; "get behind me, Satan" on not seeing; sayings in Mark 8; 9; 10: "Unless divine grace opens the eyes of his followers, they will not be able to follow in the footsteps of a suffering Messiah (p69). Sequence begins and ends (Mark 8:22-26; 10:46-52) (p70). John 9: "Who sinned, this man or his parents?"; John 9:7-34 longest in Gospel Jesus is 'off-stage'; stages of faith (p71). Light of the world; life" John goes beyond the Synoptics in expounding deeper meaning; John feeding 5k linked with Eucharist in "gave thanks" rather than "blessed" (p72). The "bread of life"; four themes: deliverance, forgiveness, light, life (p73).

Preaching Life (p73)

Mark 5:21-43; Haemorrhages and religious impurity (p73). In spite of differences between Mark and John, similarities (p74). John 6:41-51; critique of consumerism (p75).

The Historical Status of The Miracles (p75)

"... many reject the factuality of the miracles because they are baffled about their possible meaning"; half of Mark miracles, interwoven with preaching, and if they were removed, much else would have to go too; either we "take" mark or leave it; multiple, independent witness (p76). Synoptics and Q; Matthew 4:23; Acts 2:22; 6 witnesses and Jewish sources; contra accusation that believers fabricated, no such instance re John Baptist (p77). No evidence Jesus remembered as preacher and miracles added; Bultmann: "Undoubtedly he healed the sick and cast out demons", although this is "offensive" to modernity; gullibility an unjustified charge against sophisticated and even sceptical 1st Century people; historical method, science and theology; history and closed methodology (p78). Science abandons rigidity; some theologians believe God only operates through everyday events; Paul Gwynne; it is the meaning that matters: good news for the poor (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22); miracles not used to legitimate Jesus (Mark 8:11-12) (p79). "Jesus seems to have understood his miracles as deeds of power that expressed and proclaimed the way in which anti-God forces were being overcome" (p80).