Chapter 7.

Parables and Miracles

Having gone over the Gospel narratives several times in various ways, we desire in this present chapter to gather together the different parables and miracles of our Lord, and say a few words upon the subject in general and upon the prominent place which they occupy in our Lord's ministry.

1. Parables

No one who reads the Gospel narrative with any degree of attention can fail to note that all four Evangelists, and particularly the first three, give great space to the parables of our Lord. His teaching was evidently characterized by this method. May we inquire why He should have adopted such a method rather than the more directly didactic manner probably practised by the scribes?

1st. In the first place we are struck by its simplicity. The natural things are thus made pictures of spiritual ones — as children's picture-books and illustrations, whether verbal or pictorial, often present a subject with far greater clearness than could be done by mere abstract statements. We probably little realize how much we are indebted to this use of parables by our Lord. Indeed, we unconsciously use them ourselves as though they were a statement of doctrine. We speak, for instance, of the "stony-ground hearers;" of "the gospel-feast;" of "the prodigal son," in terms which show that the parable and the truth it embodies have become blended into one clear, mental picture.

2nd. Its clearness. It is often thought that a parable is less accurate than an abstract statement. We sometimes hear it said of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in the 16th of Luke, that it was only a parable," as though this made it a less accurate description of the eternal and solemn realities which it discloses. We may be sure that when our Lord gave a picture it was a correct representation of the solemn truth. The seven parables of the Kingdom give us a complete view of it in its various parts which we could not get so vividly and clearly in mere abstract statements.

3rd. Its obscurity. It may seem a contradiction to what we have just said when we add that there was an evident purpose in the parables to conceal the truth presented, so that the ordinary or unexercised hearer would ignore its true character. This, our Lord Himself tells us. He declares that "to them that are without, all these things are done in parables, that seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing, they may hear and not understand" (Mark 4:11). The apparent contradiction vanishes when this distinction is noted. "Those that are without," who have blinded their own eyes so that they cannot see, look upon the parable simply as an interesting narrative, but have no exercise as to its application.

The parable, then, especially when given in a more formal way, was a statement of divine truth covered over by the illustration, so that only those who were really hungry for the truth would look within. To such, there would be no difficulty. Indeed, as we have already said, the very form in which the teaching is given stirs the interest and gives a clearer perception. But this speaking in parables suggests a moral distance, a separation between the Lord and the mass of the people. If they were to apprehend His teaching, they must desire to do so.

4th. The unity of truth. Another reason, we may well believe, why our Lord spoke in parables was to bear witness to the essential unity that underlies all truth. Nature is itself a parable. The lilies of the field and the birds of the air are parables setting forth the wisdom and care of God, and so with all else. Doubtless, if we have eyes to see, and are sufficiently exercised to pursue the subject with reverent, prayerful diligence, we will find that the world about us, as well as the written word of God, abounds in similes and parabolic teaching of every description. Indeed, this is the key to all typical interpretation in which the Old Testament abounds.

We find therefore that the parable suggests a key for the interpretation of the word of God throughout, and for that other word, the creation, which also is the product of His skill. The skeptical man of science reads this parable of nature, but, alas, he has deprived himself of the key of knowledge. He little realizes the wondrous nature of the parable whose details he may be examining.

These preliminary remarks must suffice us. We trust they will suggest many other thoughts, and that the reader will be stirred to take hold of this great truth of symbolism. We add a list of the parables with a brief word as to their significance:

The seven parables of the Kingdom, given in the 13th of Matthew, are united together, as has been pointed out in the analysis of the first Evangelist. We therefore will not here speak of them as thus grouped, nor of any other of the parables, but pursue a different method of arrangement, giving first those parables recorded in but one Gospel; then, in two; then in all three Synoptists. There is no parable recorded in all the four Gospels.

Recorded in One Gospel only

In Matthew
1. The Tares. Ch. 13:24: — The good seed — with which the Lord's people are identified; and the worthless tares — the children of the wicked one, the mixed condition of the Kingdom until the appearing of our Lord.
2. The Hid Treasure. Ch. 13 44: — The world purchased by the Lord for the sake of Israel.
3. The Pearl of Great Price. Ch. 13:45: The Church purchased by the sacrifice of Christ.
4. The Draw net. Ch. 13:47: — The gathering and separation of the Gentiles at the close of the present dispensation.
5. The Unmerciful Servant. Ch. 18:23: — The true character of forgiveness.
6. The Laborers in the Vineyard. Ch. 20:1: — The sovereignty of grace in rewards.
7. The two Sons. Ch. 21:28: — The Jew and the Gentile.
8. The Marriage of the King's Son. Ch. 22:2: — The call of the Gentiles and the detection of false profession.
9. The Ten Virgins. Ch. 25:1: — The true and the false profession, at our Lord's appearing.
10. The Talents. Ch. 25:14: — Responsibility during our Lord's absence.
11. The Sheep and the Goats. Ch. 25:31: — Judgment of the living nations.

In Mark
1. The Seed growing Secretly. Ch. 4:26: — The law of progress in both good and evil.
2. The Householder. Ch. 13:34: — The necessity for watching.

In Luke
1. The two Debtors. Ch. 7:41: — Grace the measure of gratitude.
2. The Good Samaritan. Ch. 10:30: — Christ the true Neighbor of man.
3. The Friend at Midnight. Ch. 11:5: — Importunity in prayer.
4. The Rich Fool. Ch. 12:16: — The folly of living for the present only.
5. The Watching Servants. Ch. 12:35: — Waiting for the Lord.
6. The Faithful Steward. Ch. 12:42 — Faithfulness.
7. The Barren Fig-tree. Ch. 13:6 — Patience toward Israel.
8. The Great Supper. Ch. 14. 16: — The gospel going out to the world.
9. Building a Tower. Ch. 14 28: — Counting the cost.
10. Going to War. Ch. 14:31: — Finding conditions of peace.
11. The lost Piece of Money. Ch. 15:8: — The Spirit's work in seeking out the sinner.
12. The Prodigal Son. Ch. 15:11: — The Father's grace in welcoming the wanderer.
13. The Unjust Steward. Ch. 16:1: — Preparation for the future.
14. The Rich Man and Lazarus. Ch. 16:19: — Contrasts in the world to come.
15. The Unjust Judge. Ch. 18:2: — Continuance in prayer.
16. The Pharisee and the Publican. Ch. 18:10: — Justification not for the self-righteous, but for the repenting sinner.
17. The Pounds. Ch. 19:12: — Various degrees of faithfulness in service.

In John
1. The Temple Destroyed and Raised up. Ch. 2:19: — Our Lord's death and resurrection.
2. The Blowing of the Wind. Ch. 3:8: — The sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in new birth.
3. The Living Water. Ch. 4:10: — Life and satisfaction in Christ.
4. Hidden Food. Ch. 4:32: — Sustenance in service.
5. Fields white to Harvest. Ch. 4:35: — The world ripe for the gospel.
6. Rivers of Water. Ch. 7:37: — The fulness of the Spirit.
7. The Light of the world. Ch. 8:12: Christ the illuminator of the soul.
8. Day and Night. Ch. 9:4: — The present, the only time for service.
9. The Door and the Porter. Ch. 10:1-6: — Christ recognized by the Holy Spirit as the true door.
10. The Door of the Sheep. Ch. 10:7: — Christ the way of entrance into salvation.
11. The Good Shepherd. Ch. 10:11: — Christ sacrificing Himself for His people.
12. The Sheep. Ch. 10:27: — The character and eternal security of the believer.
13. The True Vine. Ch. 15:1: — The only means of fruitfulness.

Recorded in Two Gospels
1. The House on the Rock and on the Sand. Matt. 7:24; Luke 6:47: — The true and false foundation.
2. The Leaven. Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20: — Error corrupting that which is good.
3. The Lost Sheep. Matt. 18:12; Luke 15:4: — Christ seeking the lost.

Recorded in Three Gospels
1. The Candle under a Bushel. Matt. 5:15; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; 11:33: — The truth to be confessed.
2. New Cloth on the Old Garment. Matt. 9:16; Mark 2:21; Luke 5:36: — The incompatibility of law and grace.
3. New Wine in new, not old, Bottles. Matt. 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37: — The energy of the
Spirit in regenerate man.
4. The Sower. Matt. 13:3; Mark 4:3; Luke 8:5: — Various kinds of reception of the word of God.
5. The Mustard Seed. Matt. 13:31; Mark 4:30; Luke 13:18: The outward growth of the Kingdom.
6. The Wicked Husbandmen. Matt. 21:33; Mark 12:1; Luke 20:9: — Christ rejected by the Jews.
7. The Budding of the Fig-tree. Matt. 24:32; Mark 13:28; Luke 21:29: — Signs of the nearness of our Lord's coming.

A large number of these parables are given quite elaborately and with much attention to detail. A number of them are briefer, and some are only a simile or comparison; but they are all parabolic in the sense that they are meant to teach some special truth by a physical simile. The parables in the Gospel of John are different from those in the Synoptists, as we might suppose. We might almost say the entire Gospel is a parable. Everything in it has an unmistakable spiritual significance. We have no doubt that this would apply to all the Gospels, as we shall note in a moment. Some of the parables were no doubt given more than once; indeed, the simile of the candlestick is twice recorded in Luke. It is probable that the parable of the lost sheep, in the same way, was given at different times. We may note in passing that this parable is the only one of which there is a semblance in John as well as in Matthew and Luke.

Ere leaving this part of our subject, we would call attention to the evident parabolic teaching in the substance and arrangement of the narratives. Thus, the descent of the Spirit in bodily shape as a dove is a parable enacted. So also the order of events, as the transfiguration and the healing of the demoniac, in which we have a parable of the present glory of our Lord and His return to heal Israel.

But we touch here the subject of miracles, which we will presently take up. Enough has been said, it is hoped, to draw our attention particularly to the subject of parabolic teaching. It was a favorite method with our Lord, evidently, and we may well crave to be in harmony with His thoughts.

A word in closing this subject must be said as to the explanation of the parables. It is sometimes contended that there is no certain standard of interpretation; but several considerations will show us that this is not the case. In the first place, our Lord Himself gives in great detail the explanation of the parable of the sower. Similarly, the parable of the tares is explained. In Mark, He distinctly says that these are samples of how all parables are to be interpreted. "Know ye not this parable? How then will ye know all parables?" He evidently intended that those parables which He explains should guide us in the interpretation of the others. A large number of the parables are unmistakably clear in their teaching. No one has any difficulty about the prodigal son, the lost sheep, the lost money, etc.

The parables in John are so closely connected with direct doctrinal statements that they blend into one. This leaves comparatively few parables difficult of explanation. A clear knowledge of dispensational truth will prove of great service here. The parable of the leaven is perhaps one of the most glaring instances of misinterpretation because the prophetic future is ignored, as well as the Scripture meaning of leaven. Who, with the knowledge of what is to take place in the future, would imagine that the introduction of the gospel into the world would gradually transform it until it was entirely converted and the Millennium was introduced? It is the misunderstanding of this Scripture-truth, that the world as such is never improved but that even profession will go on retrograding rather than advancing, that has resulted in the misinterpretation of the parable. Similarly the Old Testament doctrine of leaven should prove most clearly that it was never an influence for good. God strictly forbad it in the offerings made by fire to Him.

Remembering the significance of the parable of the leaven, we are not easily misled by the rapid and phenomenal growth of the mustard seed. The former gives the development of evil within the professing Church. The latter parable shows the external growth of the Kingdom as great world-power. As such, it bears not fruit for God, but affords a shelter for the birds of the air, which in the parable of the sower are likened to Satan.

The parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price have similarly been misinterpreted through failure in remembering the very first element of the gospel. Who that knows the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and what He has suffered for us that He might purchase us for Himself could think of the sinner being called upon to sell all that he has (he has nothing but his sins), and to buy that which is the gift of God? The anomaly is manifest at once. Seeing the character of each, and knowing the distinction between Israel and the Church, we easily get the true meaning — the purchase of the world (the field) by the sacrifice of Christ for the sake of Israel (the treasure) hidden in it; and the purchase of the Church, (the pearl) by the same sacrifice, by One who was seeking for it.

The parable of the draw-net is clear in its connection with these when we get the dispensational bearings.

The parable of the sheep and goats offers no difficulty when we realize that there is more than one judgment: the first referring to what takes place at the beginning of the Millennium; and the other occurring at the close of the 10th of Revelation; the latter also being a judgment of the dead, while the former is of living nations.

The parables in Luke deal largely with the gospel of God's grace and offer perhaps not so many difficulties as the more dispensational ones in Matthew.

A word may be needed as to the parable of the unjust steward. Many have found a difficulty in the Lord's commendation of an evidently unrighteous man. Let it be noted that it does not say our Lord, and the commendation may refer to his own master. Furthermore, the commendation is simply for his wisdom, not for his unrighteousness. The man thought enough about the future to provide for it. So let the children of God use the mammon of unrighteousness, the wealth of this world which may be entrusted to them, with reference not to present enjoyment but to responsibility as to the future. How blessed it is when a child of God spends his earthly possessions in such a way that he will not be ashamed to meet the record when he enters the everlasting habitations.

2. Miracles

A few remarks as to miracles in general may be useful at the beginning of our subject.

1. The possibility of miracles. We shall not spend much time in discussing the anterior possibility, and indeed probability of miracles. All depends upon what we mean by a miracle. In one sense, much of what takes place in nature is a miracle. The processes of seed germination, the growth of the plant, its fruit-bearing, the perennial enlargement of the tree,with its annual fruits; the endless diversities of animal life — these, to say nothing of the physical and chemical changes constantly going on, are miracles, if being beyond our comprehension and marvelous constitutes a miracle. They are miraculous also if the superintendence and intervention of God in the affairs of His universe is meant, for as we have been seeing all nature is a parable,so in another sense it is all a miracle.

But we do not understand by a miracle, those ordinary manifestations of divine superintendence which are constantly going on about us. What differentiates a miracle from these is its exceptional character. The floating of a piece of iron is contrary to all observed facts regarding the properties of iron and of water. So also with every miracle. There is something about it which attracts attention because of its exceptional character. The healing of sickness may take place gradually, and, as is too often the case, God may be utterly ignored, and men fail to acknowledge Him in the cure. It is the suddenness of the cure in the miracle which attracts the attention and demands an explanation.

This brings us to what seems to be the essential character of every miracle — an occurrence contrary to the ordinary course of events, which can only be explained by reference to God's direct intervention. The manner of this intervention may not always be seen. Sometimes it is an intervention of knowledge, as perhaps in the miraculous draft of fishes. We need not suppose that our Lord created the fishes for this draft, but rather that He knew where they were, or by some influence gathered them thus together.

We must, however, be on our guard against seeking for naturalistic explanations of miracles. Their very essence requires that God intervene, and where this is admitted, the measure or manner of His intervention is comparatively of small moment.

We recur therefore to the question as to the possibility of miracles, and reply: If God has created all things by His almighty power and upholds them by the same power, we cannot conceive the possibility of the limitation which men have sought to put upon that power. He has neither exhausted His resources nor abrogated His supremacy. In addition to this, when we remember the moral question at issue, that man is prone to forget God, to turn a deaf ear to His pleadings and the teachings of those whom He has sent, we need not be surprised if from time to time God should permit His servants to work a sign which gives unmistakable evidence of His presence. Therefore we find throughout the Old Testament miracles are given at critical stages. In the land of Judah, they were given to call attention to God's demands, and were largely of a judicial character. Later on, in the life of Elisha the healing of Naaman's leprosy, feeding the multitude and even raising the dead, were given with special reference to the need of the people at the time, to cause them to know that God was again turning their hearts back to Himself as declared by Elijah in his prayer upon Mt. Carmel.

2. The object of miracles. Perhaps most persons who accept the possibility of miracles need to be checked as to the number and occasions when God has intervened. Romanism has never had any difficulty about the possibility of God working miracles, but it has so clogged up the whole history of our Lord's life and that of the early Church with the multiplication of needless and often grotesque, not to say unrighteous, miraculous acts that we are constrained to protest against any such abuse of a solemn and precious truth.

That God can intervene in the affairs of this world and act in a manner independent of or contrary to His ordinary providential methods, is the truth; but there is a marked economy in miracles. We find the history of the people in the Old Testament going on in a quiet, natural way, we may say, uninfluenced by miraculous features, save as these were necessary for a specific purpose.

In this connection, the daily miracle of the manna stands out exceptional in its frequency; but when we remember the special object which God had in view, together with the necessity for what He did, there is no contradiction to what we have already seen. Israel as a nation was to have pressed upon its spirit the reality of God's sufficiency and His goodness in caring for them. Thus, not for a day or a year, but for the forty years of their journeying through the wilderness, He provides in a supernatural manner for them. When, however, they come into the land, this miraculous supply of food ceases, for the need is passed, both for their actual sustenance and for the constant witness to God's supreme power.

In passing, it may be well to mention that there have been well meant, but entirely needless explanations of a natural sort, of the miracle of the manna and some of the plagues. For instance, the water turned into blood has been thought to be the red color of the river at a certain period of its flood, caused by the coloring matter of the soil through which it has flowed. So, too, it has been suggested that the manna was the gum of some tree. As a matter of fact, there is a substance called manna, used now as a medicine which could not be conceived of as an article for food unless as great a miracle were wrought in altering its nature as in providing the true food.

We return therefore to the simple statement that a miracle is an intervention of God in the affairs of this world, in such a way that the intervention cannot be explained by the ordinary laws of nature. This intervention is for the express purpose of calling the attention to that which God is about to declare.

3. The manner of miracles. We have already spoken of this in general and add only a few thoughts. There is always a certain dignity about the true miracle that bears the stamp of reality upon it. No matter how simple the means used or the act performed, it is never inconsistent with the holiness, truthfulness and goodness of God. Even when there is a miracle of judgment, as in the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira, we, in common with those at the time, see the necessity for such a solemn act. As nothing contradicts the dignity of truth, so we need hardly say there is no denial or contradiction of the great laws of nature. For instance, for iron to swim is, as we have said, miraculous, and yet any one of us can make iron to swim. That is, we can support it upon the surface of the water, provided we put forth sufficient power to hold it there. The miracle consists in the putting forth of this power manifestly by God. Were we to attempt it, we should in some way support the iron from the outside. God does not turn the iron into wood and thus make it float; He simply upholds it upon the surface of the water by His own power; and yet in the miracle of changing the water into wine, there is something analogous to this change of substance. Without attempting to go too deeply into details, we might say that the water becomes wine by the intervention of God's power. As has been beautifully said by another, the miracle by which the rains are changed into the luscious grape and so into wine takes place before men's eyes each year; the only difference is the time required. We therefore conclude that the subject of the manner of miracles presents few or any difficulties. Granted that God chooses to act, there is a boundless field for the method of His action. We may be sure only of one thing, that He will never act in a manner unworthy of Himself.*

{*A helpful tract "Aleck's difficulty as to Miracles" may be read with profit in this connection.}

4. The miracles of our Lord. If at various stages in men's history of old God intervened in a miraculous way to attract their attention, we need not be surprised that the greatest of all His interventions, the Incarnation (pointed to as it was by every manifestation of God in the past), should be characterized and accompanied by displays of divine power calculated to arrest the attention of all classes of men.

The Incarnation itself is the greatest of all miracles — "God manifest in the flesh" is the wonder of the ages. It is, and continues to be, a witness of divine intervention without a parallel. He who knows Christ as the incarnate Son of God has no difficulty about belief in miracles. Indeed, we may go further and say that he who knows the great miracle of grace wrought in his own soul, whereby he has been born again, has no difficulty about other acts of power by the same God who has given him a new life.

The miracles of our Lord stand out from those of the Old Testament, or those in the Acts, just as His personality stands out distinct from that of the most faithful of the prophets or other servants of the Lord. They are unique in that they are not only the interventions of God through His servants, but because there is an inherent power in Christ Himself. Indeed, it is God in Him doing the works. Nor does this contradict in the least what our Lord declares, that He did these things by the finger of God. He was ever the dependent and subject One, the perfect Servant; but this, while veiling His own personal glory, did not deny it; so faith ever recognizes Him, not only as God's workman, but as having the power in Himself.

5. The connection between parables and miracles. Everything that our Lord said, had a definite, spiritual purpose. We may be sure that this was also true of everything He did. They were not desultory acts. Everything contributed to the one great testimony which He was giving, for He came down from heaven not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. This will was the salvation of sinful man, effected by His grace. This salvation consisted in bringing man into the true knowledge of God, a knowledge of such kind that it resulted in moral likeness to Him. The miracles which were wrought, therefore, were not merely supernatural acts to call attention, nor indeed mere acts of kindness. We may be sure our blessed Lord's tender heart of compassion went out toward all who were sick and oppressed by the devil. If our hearts are moved by pity for the suffering, we may be sure that His throbbed perfectly in divine compassion and yet we greatly miss the scope of the miracles if we think of them simply as therapeutic acts.

There are three words for miracles: "signs," "wonders" and "mighty deeds." The "wonder" suggests the effect of which we have been speaking. Man's attention is attracted by a supernatural act. The "mighty deed" suggests the power which has been put forth in arousing this attention, but the "sign" suggests that there is a correspondence between the miraculous act and the revelation to be given in connection with it. This opens up an exceedingly profitable line of study; a line, we may say, which goes far beyond treating miracles as the mere evidences of Christianity. Our faith is confirmed by seeing the evident wisdom and purpose in their performance. We find, thus, that blindness is a spiritual, as well as a physical malady; thus the man in the 9th of John not only has his bodily eyes opened, but the eyes of his heart; while the Pharisees, declaring that they saw, really remained blind.

The feeding of the five thousand is connected with the feeding of men with the bread of life. Cases of demon possession are connected with physical maladies in such a way as to suggest not merely that bodily affliction may in certain cases be connected with special Satanic activity, but that the disease typifies a certain form of sin.

The miracle, therefore, is simply an enacted parable. It is a parabolic pantomime in which spiritual truth, not merely as to the power of God, but as to the nature of sin and the character of divine grace is set forth. It is this which we desire especially to note as we examine the various miracles recorded in the four Gospels.

Pursuing methods similar to those followed in the examination of the parables, we now add a list of the miracles wrought.

Narrated in One Gospel only

In Matthew
1. Two Blind Men healed. Ch. 9:27: — Mercy for blinded Israel.
2. A Dumb Demoniac cured. Ch. 9:32: — The power of Satan closing the lips, overcome by the Lord.
3. The Coin in the Fish's Mouth. Ch. 17:24: — All resources of nature at the Lord's disposal.

In Mark
1. The Deaf and Dumb Man healed. Ch. 7:31: — The restoring of relationship to God, which produces a testimony to His praise.
2. The Blind Man healed. Ch. 8:22: — The gradual workings of grace.

In Luke
1. The Draft of Fishes. Ch. 5:1: — Divine omniscience and power manifested.
2. Raising the Widow's Son. Ch. 7:11: — Love stronger than death.
3. The Woman with the Spirit of Infirmity. Ch. 13:11: — A release from Satan's power.
4. The Dropsy healed. Ch. 14:1: — Deliverance from Pharisaism.
5. The Ten Lepers cured. Ch. 17:11: — One in ten a worshiper.
6. Malchus' Ear healed. Ch. 22:50: — Thoughtfulness of divine love.

In John
1. Turning the Water into Wine. Ch. 2:10: The Word received in penitence, producing joy.
2. The Nobleman's Son cured. Ch. 4:46: — Mercy to Israel at a distance.
3. The Impotent Man at Bethesda cured. Ch. 5:1: — Sovereign grace above law.
4. The Blind Man cured. Ch. 9:1: The opening of the eyes of the soul — new birth.
5. The raising of Lazarus. Ch. 11:43: — The power of resurrection.
6. The Draft of Fishes. Ch. 21:1: — The gathering in of the Gentiles.

Narrated in Two Gospels
1. The Demoniac in the Synagogue. Mark 1:23; Luke 4:33 Deliverance from Satan's power manifested in holy things.
2. The Centurion's Servant healed of Palsy. Matt. 8:5; Luke 7:1: — Grace in power going out to the Gentiles who trust in Christ.
3. The Blind and Dumb Demoniac. Matt. 12:22; Luke 11:14: — Satan's power, sealing the lips, overthrown.
4. The Syrophenician's Daughter. Matt. 15:21; Mark 7:24: — Mercy to the alien.
5. Four Thousand fed. Matt. 15:32; Mark 8:1: — The Bread of Life for hungry souls.
6. The Cursing of the Fig Tree. Matt. 21:18; Mark 11:12: — God's strange work.

Narrated in Three Gospels
1. Healing the Leper. Matt. 8:2; Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12: — The defilement and guilt of sin removed.
2. Peter's Mother-in-law cured of Fever. Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38: — The restless energy of the flesh stilled.
3. The Storm calmed. Matt. 8:26; Mark 4:37; Luke 8:22: — Christ's power over circumstances.
4. The Demoniac of Gadara. Matt. 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:27: — Multiplied Satanic power overcome.
5. Cured of the Palsy. Matt. 9:2; Mark 2:3; Luke 5:18: The helplessness of sin removed by its forgiveness.
6. The Issue of Blood. Matt. 9:20; Mark 5:25; Luke 8:43: — The weakness and defilement of sin removed.
7. Raising of Jairus' Daughter. Matt. 9:23; Mark 5:38; Luke 8:49: — Life out of death.
8. The Withered Hand healed. Matt. 12:10; Mark 3:1; Luke 6:6: — The weakness of the law displaced by the power of grace.
9. Walking on the Sea. Matt. 14:25; Mark 6:48; John 6:19: — "Thy way is in the sea."
10. The Demoniac Child cured after the Transfiguration. Matt. 17:14; Mark 9:17; Luke 9:38: — Israel delivered from the power of Satan.
11. Blind Bartimaeus. Matt. 20:30 (two blind men); Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35: — The beginning of restoring mercy for Israel in the latter days.

Narrated in Four Gospels

Feeding the Five Thousand. Matt. 14:19; Mark 6:35; Luke 9:12; John 6:5: — Christ the Bread of Life, the true Manna provided for all His people who believe in Him.

We add a word as to our Lord's avoiding the crowd at Nazareth, Luke 4:30. This is sometimes given as a miraculous act, but the words do not necessarily suggest this. Indeed, when we remember that our Lord never seems to have wrought a miracle in His own behalf, we are slow to think that He did it here. He simply passed through their midst, while in their noise and confusion they were as yet perhaps not sufficiently united to attempt to carry out their purpose. We rather incline to refer such acts as this, and those in John, to the providential care of God over Him, and what are called natural causes.

We have thus before us a most inviting field for study and research. We have endeavored to give to each miracle, in a few words, the special spiritual lesson connected with it. It is difficult to do this within the brief space of a few lines, and we cannot here enter upon anything like a full enlargement and justification of the spiritual application of the miracles. We believe, that what has already been said is sufficient justification for this, especially when taken with our Lord's application of the miracle of the blind man. We may reverently paraphrase His own question: Know ye not this miracle? How then will ye know all miracles?

Another scripture links closely the spiritual truths with the signs wrought. In His message to John the Baptist, our Lord says: "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matt. 11:5). Here, the preaching of the gospel to the poor is so closely connected with the miracles performed that we are constrained to think of these as the gospel enacted, even as the preaching was the gospel proclaimed. We believe, therefore, that each miracle sets before us some such outline of truth as the following.

(1) The malady speaks of some form of sin: —
Leprosy, of its guilt and defilement.
Blindness, of God shut out.
Deafness — His voice not heard.
Palsy — insensibility and helplessness.
Dropsy — feeble heart action, conscience asleep (inert kidneys) pride of self-righteousness.
Fever — the restless, false stimulation of nature's energy.
Issue — chronic defilement.
Withered hand — a form of paralysis, nature's strength withered.
Demoniac possession — the power of Satan, connected. also with dumbness, deafness, and being bowed down.

(2) The method of cure shows how divine grace acted through our Lord.

Touching the leper suggests the grace which brought Him down to our very need. Fully traced out, this would mean the Cross.

Various acts are connected with healing the blind. His simple word was spoken, showing the power in that word. The laying His hands on the sightless eyes recalls again the Cross where He came down to our darkness. The clay and spittle put upon the eyes speaks of the sentence of death, the penalty due to sin.

Deafness is interesting because dumbness is connected with it. Indeed, the same word in Greek is translated both "deaf" and "dumb." It means literally dull. When the avenue between the soul and God is closed, there can be no speaking out His praise. The Lord's putting His fingers into the ears and touching the tongue with spittle suggests His abhorrence of this condition, but His grace in delivering the poor soul from it. How precious is the thought that even His abhorrence of sin, as expressed by the spittle, is for salvation in those who yield themselves to His mercy!

Taking by the hand is similar to a touch, only a stronger thought. It is not merely the imparting of power, but showing its link with Himself. And so we might dwell further upon every detail and find the fullest confirmation of what we have said. Each miracle becomes indeed a miracle of grace where we wonderingly gaze upon every detail as exhibiting our helplessness and His grace, with His ways of love.

One case of surgery remains to be spoken of. Significantly, it is the undoing of Peter's rash act in cutting off a servant's ear. The act speaks of undue severity — cutting off people's ears, instead of opening them. How often has our Lord to undo our poor, blundering use of the sword! A touch is here sufficient.

We have said little about death and the resurrection power of our Lord, exemplified in the three (the number of resurrection) cases of raising recorded. When sin is seen in some of its effects, it is characterized in different ways. Thus, as we have leprosy, palsy, blindness, etc., so we speak of drunkenness, profanity, skepticism, and the like. But when death intervened, we hear nothing of its cause. The simple fact has taken place and there is no need for going into further detail. There is instruction in this. The outward form in which sin manifests itself suggests that the sinner is still alive, although sorely in need. There is, of course, a sense in which this is true, but when we come to see man's real condition, we find it not merely one of sickness or of exhibition of certain forms of evil; he is dead — "dead in trespasses and sins." Here it is not a question of what the form of sin is. He may be a drunkard or a self-righteous moralist, but there is no life to God.

In the three miracles of raising the dead we have death seen, first: in the case of Jairus' daughter, as having just taken place, in a child. Next, in the widow's son at Nain, death has gone on toward burial, and our Lord arrests the bier on its way to the tomb. It is now a young man. Next, we have death at the end of a course of sickness which our Lord had purposely declined to arrest. The subject is one whom He loves. Here, his death has taken place so long previously that corruption has set in. This is the most hopeless to human appearance, though indeed the power required to call into life is just the same. In each case, Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.

We notice also the difference in the sequel. In the case of Jairus' daughter, our Lord commanded something to be given her to eat. When there is life, there can be nutrition. The young man begins to speak and our Lord relieves his mother's sorrow by putting her son in her arms again. Lazarus is bound with grave-clothes, and the word for him is, "Loose him and let him go." Carnal ordinances have no claim upon the soul set free. We next see Lazarus at the feast with our Lord.

This brief and imperfect glance at this most delightful subject of miracles must suffice. We can only commend it to the prayerful and constant study of the Lord's people. They will be abundantly rewarded with fresh and unsuspected glimpses of the grace of our Lord and His methods of showing that grace.