Much of Jesus’ public ministry is spent with crowds of people flocking to Him. They do so because of the authority of His teaching and the compassion He extends to those around Him. They also do so because they are in awe of the miraculous things He is able to do. He controls nature, calming storms and walking on water. He heals diseases and lifelong disabilities such as leprosy or blindness. He multiplies meager amounts of food in order to feed large numbers of people. The prospect of being healed by Jesus or seeing Him do something miraculous was enough to draw large crowds of people into His presence.
Theologian Wayne Grudem defines a biblical miracle as “a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.” Jesus’ miracles do exactly this. In fact, in His first miracle -- changing water to wine at a wedding in Cana -- we are told that, “This, the first of His signs...manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him.” (John 2:11) Jesus’ life begins with a miracle (the incarnation and virgin birth) and ends with a miracle (the resurrection). All of them arouse people’s awe and wonder. They bear witness to His divinity. They draw people to belief.
This week’s reading recounts multiple miracles, including two of Jesus’ most famous miraculous acts: the feeding of the 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish, and His walking on water in the midst of a storm. Both bear witness to Jesus as the fully divine Son of God and should leave us in awe and wonder at His power. They also serve as faint shadows of the greatest miracle of all, Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb following His crucifixion.
"God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). In all of the miracles of this week’s reading, we see the Father’s anointing on Jesus’ life. Just like today, there were many, many people who were suffering from diseases. There were many who were sick and paralyzed and all were bound by sin. How did Jesus know who and what and where to go daily? Jesus gives the answer in this short but significant passage. “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise" (John 5:19). This illustrates the family ingredient of Modeling in the most perfect sense. Jesus, fully God and fully human, is able to perfectly discern the exact model that His Father wants Him to be. As we read the scriptures together, we teach our children and gain knowledge of the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit so we can model what the Father wants us to do. Faithfully copy the One who can give new life.
- What does it mean to model someone else’s behavior?
- If you are an older sibling, have you ever had your younger sibling do something good or bad that you did?
- How was Jesus able to hear what He should do daily? Read Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16 and Luke 6:12.
- Do you think it was hard for Jesus to keep praying for long periods of time like it is for us? How well did He know His Father? The more we know the Father, the easier it will become for us to come to Him in prayer.
Activity: The Beauty of Prayer
Jesus modeled the importance of praying in learning how to bring Him glory. Prayers are a way of joining with God and asking Him to have an effect on the world and situations around us. When we pray, we believe we’re talking to God. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, He can redeem people and situations. In this Skittles activity, color is released from the candy into the surrounding water, symbolizing how the prayers we raise to God are a way of joining with Him to release the kingdom here on earth.
Supplies: Skittles, paper plate, hot water (not hot enough to scald, but hot enough to make the color run!)
Put Skittles on a sturdy paper plate. Pour water onto the plate to cover surface. Pour carefully so that the Skittles stay in place. The Skittles will gradually release their color to make a rainbow effect. Now pick up a skittle and pray for a person or situation. Source: Flame Creative Children’s Ministry.
Source: Flame Creative Children’s Ministry.
Small Group Discussion
- What examples are there to follow? What principles are there to follow? As we read this week, which miracles stood out to you? Specifically, what was Jesus’ saying?
- The same power and authority Jesus has resides in each believer. Do you see ministry as something you are doing for God, or something God does through you as you yield yourselves to Him? Your miracles might look a little different than Jesus’, but the power and authority is the same.
- Do you know what it means to follow Him, to move in His power? The presence of the Holy Spirit was the key to the early Church’s explosive growth. The same is true today. Christ in us, Paul says, is our hope of glory.