12 The Role and Impact of Miracles in Jesus’s Ministry

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Regarding the Role of Miracles

Scripture: Mark 1:40-45; Mark 3:7-12; Luke 4:31-37; and Luke 4:40-41

Notes: Each of these passages emphasizes the role of miracles, some in a general description of Jesus’s ministry and others in the telling of a specific miracle story. Notice especially the reaction Jesus’s miracles produced in the multitudes.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Why do you think Jesus reacted as He did to the declaration of His identity by demons?
  2. Notice the instruction Jesus gave to the healed leper in Mark 1:44. Why do you think He made this demand of the man?
  3. Notice as well that in the next pericope (section) Jewish leaders from far away were there to catch Him in His words (cf. Luke 5:17). Might there be a connection between this story and that one?

B. Regarding the Purpose of Miracles

Scripture: John 3:2; John 5:17-22, John 5:36; Acts 2:22; and Acts 10:38

Notes: Notice what these verses suggest concerning the purpose of God in the miracles done by Jesus.

Questions/Observations: In this regard, it is important to distinguish between purpose and consequence. I would suggest that there were many consequences or results of Jesus’s miracle, but as far as the testimony of Scripture is concerned, only one purpose. In the attempt to understand Jesus’s ministry, it is very important to comprehend what that purpose is.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

11 Jesus’s Ministry in His Hometown, Nazareth

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Jesus’ First Visit to Nazareth (Near the Beginning of the Galilean Ministry)

Scripture: Luke 4:13-22

Notes: This visit occurred early in Jesus’s Galilean ministry, after He had been gone for about a year. (That is, it was about a year earlier that Jesus had left to be baptized by John; as far as the record goes, He had not returned since.)

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that Jesus returned to the synagogue “as was His custom”; it is my belief that the point is that this is the synagogue He had attended when He lived in Nazareth, and, therefore, these people knew Jesus and His family very well.
  2. Jesus was recognized as a rabbi and invited to participate in the Sabbath service. Why do you think He was given that opportunity?
  3. From what Old Testament passage did Jesus read? Do you think He chose that passage, or was the passage was chosen for Him?
  4. How do you understand Jesus’s reference to the Sidonian widow and the Syrian leper? What is Jesus’s point, and why do the townsfolk react with such anger?

B. Jesus’s Second Visit to Nazareth (Very Late in the Galilean Ministry)

Scripture: Matthew 13:54-58 and Mark 6:1-6

Notes: These two passages narrate a visit toward the close of the Galilean ministry. Together, the two events provide an instructive microcosm of the Galilean ministry as a whole.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

10. First Temple Cleansing, Nicodemus, and the Woman at the Well

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. The First Cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem

Scripture: John 2:13-22

Notes: According to the biblical record, Jesus cleansed the temple twice: at the first Passover of His public ministry (John 2) and again at the final (fourth) Passover of His ministry (Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19). There is some debate as to whether the cleansing in John is, in fact, distinct from that of the Synoptics (i.e., did John simply relocate the story for his own literary purposes?). I am convinced that there were two cleansings, that neither was random or impulsive, but that the two cleansings were deliberately and marvelously strategic to Jesus’s ministry.

Questions/Observations: The Gospel of John includes four Passovers during Jesus’s public ministry (three explicit – John 2:13; John 6:4; John 12:1, and one implicit – John 5:1). Those four Passovers become the primary means of determining the length of Jesus’s ministry. Here John tells of Jesus’s visit to the temple at the first of those four Passovers.

B. Jesus’s Encounter with Nicodemus, the Seeking Pharisee

Scripture: John 2:23-25

Notes: Notice that the account of Jesus’s interview with Nicodemus is deliberately set off against this brief section (cf. the conjunction “Now” or δὲ with which John 3:1 begins – a slight adversative conjunction).

Scripture: John 3:1-21

Notes: Compare John 7:50-52 and John 19:38-42. Consider the role Nicodemus plays in John’s carefully crafted narrative.

C. Jesus’s Ministry with John the Baptist

Scripture: John 3:22-24

Notes: Notice carefully this little appreciated phase of Jesus’s public ministry.

Scripture: John 3:25-36

Notes: Notice the remarkable and noble selflessness of John the Baptist.

Questions/Observations: How do you understand John’s figure of the “friend of the bridegroom”?

D. Jesus Determines to Depart for Galilee

Scripture: Matthew 4:12; Luke 4:14; and John 4:1-4

Notes: Notice that John’s narrative “re-joins” that of the Synoptics at this point.

E. Jesus Makes His Way to Galilee Through Samaria

Scripture: John 4:5-42; John 4:43-45; Matthew 4:13-17; Mark 1:14; and Luke 4:14

Notes: John 4:5-42 is the narrative of the journey – most notably the witness to the woman at the well in Sychar. John 4:43-45 is the narrative of the arrival in Galilee. Recall that Jesus had earlier taken steps to make Capernaum His base of operations in Galilee.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that Matthew sees in Jesus’s ministry in Galilee the “fulfillment” of a portion of Isaiah.
  2. Notice that Matthew and Mark relate Jesus’s decision to leave Judea for Galilee to the arrest of John the Baptist. How do you understand the relationship between these two?

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

9. The First Five Days of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Dr. Doug Bookman

Note: The months of ministry after Jesus’s baptism and before He commenced His ministry in Galilee are recorded only in John’s gospel. In other words, the narrative of John 1:19 fits entirely between Matthew 4:11 and Matthew 4:12, between Mark 1:13 and Mark 1:14, and between Luke 4:13 and Luke 4:14. Jesus spent those months in Judea, for a time ministering alongside John the Baptist. Throughout those months Jesus primary focus was to gather to Himself the multitude who had obeyed and embraced the message preached by John.

A. John the Baptist Interrogated by a Committee of Sanhedrinists

Scripture: John 1:19-28

Notes: Notice the four chronological notes in John 1:29, John 1:35, John 1:43; and John 2:1. The point of reference (i.e., the day from which the “next day” of 1:29 is computed) is the event of John 1:19-28.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that John’s ministry has become the cause of official concern among the religious leaders of Judea; these who question John at this time were “sent” to do so.
  2. Notice carefully the way John responds to the question “Who are you?”

B. Day #1 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 1:29-34

Notes: This is the actual beginning of Jesus’s “public ministry.” It is here that Jesus for the first time appears to men as the Messiah.

Questions/Observations: John’s identification of Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” is remarkably insightful and important.

C. Day #2 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 1:35-42

Notes: This passage is best taken as representative of Jesus’s ministry throughout the months summarized here. In other words, Jesus spends these months gathering to Himself the disciples of John the Baptist.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Who was the second disciple in this narrative?
  2. How do you explain the curious question which these two disciples asked of Jesus after they finally caught up to Him?

D. Day #3 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 1:43-51

Notes: John 1:43 speaks of Jesus “wanting to go to Galilee.” This is not the commencement of His Galilean ministry (which comes some months later); rather, it is a brief visit to Cana for a wedding feast.

Questions/Observations: Jesus’s ability to know Nathanael before meeting him is clearly an expression of omniscience; that is, it is supernatural. And yet, by John’s nomenclature, it is not a “sign” (cf. John 2:11). What is the significance of that distinction?

E. Day #5 of Jesus’s Public Ministry

Scripture: John 2:1-11

Notes: I believe the “third day” of John 2:1 is best taken as the third day after the day mentioned in John 1:43. Thus, by Jewish reckoning there are a total of five days narrated in this passage, but the narrative skips from the third day (1:43) to the fifth day (2:1, the 3rd day after the day of 1:43). The unrecorded day was a day of travel from Judea to Galilee.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice the poignant scene of “leave-taking” between Jesus and His mother at the beginning of this narrative. It is significant that this scene occurs at Cana, and not in Nazareth.
  2. What do you think was Mary’s role at this wedding (if any)?
  3. Why do you think Mary approached Jesus with her concern over the fact that the host had run out of wine for the wedding?
  4. Notice the care Jesus took to avoid any thought that the miracle was simply slight-of-hand.
  5. Notice the significance and consequences of this sign-miracle, according to John 1:11.

Postlude: Jesus Moves His Family to Capernaum

Scripture: John 2:12

Notes: This visit to Capernaum seems to have been in anticipation of a permanent move (cf. Matthew 4:13).

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that the move from Nazareth to Capernaum was strategic to the ministry of itinerant teaching which Jesus would commence in Galilee in a few months.
  2. This brief verse suggests that even after commencing His official public ministry, Jesus continued to be faithful to His responsibilities as the eldest son in His family.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

7. The Childhood of Jesus Christ

Dr. Doug Bookman

Scripture: Luke 2:40-51

Notes: Jesus’s visit to the temple at the age of twelve

Questions/Observations:

  1. This is the only narrative of Jesus’s youth in the gospel record. As such it is extremely important and delightfully informative.
  2. There is significance to the fact that this Passover visit occurred when Jesus was 12 years of age. I believe this was the first visit after the bar-mitzvah of young Jesus, and thus the first time He would be permitted to enter the temple to witness the slaying of the lamb – which must have made a profound impact upon Him.
  3. Notice especially the statement of Luke 2:51. Jesus continued in submission to His parents – and thus to His heavenly Father – even after expressing dramatically His longing to be about the work to which He was appointed.

Scripture: Luke 2:52

Notes: Jesus’s growth in wisdom and stature

Scripture: Luke 4:14-31

Notes: Jesus’s early visit to the synagogue of His youth

Questions/Observations:

This incident occurs early in the Galilean ministry of Jesus. It is interesting to contemplate here because the reaction of the townspeople – the people who knew Jesus best during the years of His youth – to His claim to Messiahship (Luke 4:21). The lesson is that Jesus’s childhood was sufficiently normal (as opposed to the picture painted by the apocryphal (and false) gospels of a miracle-working super-boy) that when He made this audacious claim, the townspeople were aghast!]

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

8. John the Baptist, Jesus’s Baptism, and the Temptation

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Old Testament Prophecy of John the Baptist (the Messianic Forerunner)

Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-6 and Malachi 4:5-6

Notes: These Old Testament passages foretell the ministry of one who would come in anticipation of the appearance of Messiah and who would make spiritual preparation for that ministry.

B. The Ministry of John the Baptist

Scripture: Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; and Luke 3:1-18

Notes: Notice not only the substance, but also the impact of John’s ministry.

C. The Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist

Scripture: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; and Luke 3:21-23

Notes: The record suggests strongly that after Jesus departed Nazareth to be baptized by John, He was gone (unexpectedly) for several weeks (at least three months), and that the next time He encountered His mother was at the wedding in Cana recorded in John 2.

Questions/Observations:

  1. How public was Jesus’s baptism?
  2. What do you perceive to be the reason that Jesus went to be baptized by John?
  3. What is the significance of the Spirit coming upon Jesus so dramatically and explicitly following His baptism?
  4. What do you think was the primary and necessary significance of baptism by John?
  5. How do you understand the relationship between John’s baptism and “Christian” baptism (i.e., baptism practiced in the book of Acts)?
  6. The baptism of Jesus is more accurately perceived as the last act of His private life than as the first act of His public life (as it is generally perceived).

D. The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; and Luke 4:1-13

Notes: Notice that the narrative of each of the Synoptics moves from the temptation to the Galilean Ministry of Jesus.

Questions/Observations:

  1. You will notice that the order of the temptations is different in Matthew than it is in Luke. How would you explain this seeming difficulty, and which of the two would you regard as the actual historical sequence?
  2. Do these temptations occur in the realm of space-time reality normally occupied by mortal human beings?

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

6. The Genealogies of Jesus Christ

Dr. Doug Bookman

Scripture: Matthew 1:1-17

Notes: The legal right of Jesus to the throne of David

Questions/Observations:

This genealogy traces the line of Joseph, who was Jesus’s adoptive father, and thus whose rights and possessions lawfully passed to Jesus – including the legal right to the throne of David, passed down through Solomon. Notice the reference to Jeconiah in Matthew 1:11-12 and compare the curse on his line in Jeremiah 22:29-30.

Scripture: Luke 3:23-28

Notes: The physical (blood/seed) right of Jesus to the throne of David

Questions/Observations:

This genealogy traces the line of Mary (Eli/Heli is her father, Jesus’ maternal grandfather, His closest physical male antecedent). Notice that she too is a descendant of David through his son Nathan (Luke 3:31). Thus, Jesus is twice qualified to sit on the throne of David – by blood through his physical mother, Mary, and by legal right through his adoptive father, Joseph.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

5. The Birth of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth

Dr. Doug Bookman

Scripture: Luke 2:1-7

  • Notes: Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem; the nativity of the God-Man

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

  • Notes: The naming of the child

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

  • Notes: The worship of the shepherds

Scripture: Luke 2:21

  • Notes: The circumcision of Jesus

Scripture: Luke 2:22-39

  • Notes: Presentation of the Child in the temple; homage paid by Anna and Simeon

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12

  • Notes: The visit of the magi (wise-men)

Scripture: Matthew 2:13-23

  • Notes: The family’s flight to Egypt; the children of Bethlehem slaughtered; the family returns to settle in Nazareth

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that the trip to Bethlehem was necessary because of a taxation decree; Joseph probably had discovered that life was intolerable in Nazareth (by reason of Mary’s “scandalous” pregnancy). Because he had to travel to Bethlehem anyway (by reason of the decree), he decided to relocate to Bethlehem. But in all of this, the prophecy of Micah 5:2 came to pass precisely.
  2. In Jewish culture, the means by which a man legally adopted as his son one who was not physically his son was that the man assigned the child his name. Thus, the significance of the naming of Jesus by Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25).

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

4. The Birth of John the Baptist

Dr. Doug Bookman

Scripture: Luke 1:57-80

Questions/Observations: Notice that there is much excitement throughout the region at the remarkable birth of this one who was announced by an angel to be the forerunner of the Messiah.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

3. The Angelic Announcement of Jesus Christ

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. The Announcement to Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-56

Notes: It is hard to imagine how shocking must have been the angelic visit and the message concerning the child to be born to her. But consider the cost to be borne by Mary. It was an awful disgrace in that culture to conceive a child before the wedding day. All of the joy and delights of the wedding day,anticipated by every young woman, would be forfeited by Mary. Much was being offered her, but much was being asked of her as well.

Questions/Observations:

  1. About how old was Mary when the angel appeared to her?
  2. Notice that Mary was betrothed to Joseph. In that culture, they were legally and permanently man and wife, but for the period of the betrothal they did not come together physically. During that period the groom’s job was to prepare a home where they would live; the bride’s job was to make herself beautiful for her wedding day. On the wedding day the groom would simply fetch his bride and take her to the home he had prepared (amidst much rejoicing and merry-making).
  3. The song sung by Mary is one of the most remarkable expressions of theologically informed praise and delight in all of literature. Notice the degree to which she deliberately patterns her response after that of Hannah (1 Samuel 1).

B. The Announcement to Joseph

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

Notes: This appearance to Joseph is timely. Mary has been “found to be with child.” She would have been hard pressed to convince her betrothed husband of what had, in fact, happened; thus, the angelic intervention.

Questions/Observations

  1. Joseph’s family home was Bethlehem (south of Jerusalem); his family of artisans had probably re-settled in Nazareth (in Galilee, to the north) because work was readily found nearby (probably in the burgeoning town of Sepphoris just down the hill).
  2. Notice the significance of the name to be given to the child to be born to Mary – and the significance of that name as defined by the angel.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of NewTestament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission)