A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
By Mark Baker
About the Author
Richard D. Phillips (M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary; D.D. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) served as minister of preaching at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1995–2002, and now currently serves as senior minister at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
It is easy to attract a crowd. Street performers in New York can demand the attention of many with a simple set of skills and a theatrical personality. Wonderworkers and magicians will always have a following. But when we look at Jesus’ miracles, we see a different purpose. He doesn’t want to just attract a crowd. As a matter of fact, he often will leave the multitudes in order to teach his disciples.
Jesus’ miracles are not simply random acts of kindness; rather, they provide physical illustrations of a spiritual reality. We all need healing, and Jesus’ miracles give us a glimpse of the “great reversal” that his salvation brings. The weak and broken receive eternal salvation when they respond to Jesus with faith. So often the rich and powerful pass Jesus by, unaware of their great spiritual need. This book looks at the miracles in Luke’s gospel in order to reveal God’s grandeur in the salvation that Jesus offers.
Table of Contents
- The Meaning of the Miracles, Luke 4:14–44
- “I Am Willing,” Luke 5:12–16
- Authority to Forgive, Luke 5:17–26
- “Just Say the Word,” Luke 7:1–10
- Weep No More, Luke 7:11–17
- Lord of the Storm, Luke 8:22–25
- Humanity Restored, Luke 8:26–39
- Tears and Laughter, Luke 8:40–56
- Feeding the Five Thousand, Luke 9:12–17
- Miracles and the Cross, Luke 9:37–45
- Opposition to the Miracles, Luke 11:14–26
- One Who Gave Thanks, Luke 17:11–19
- Sight to the Blind, Luke 18:35–43
Chapter 1: The Meaning of the Miracles: Luke 4:14–44
The popularity of miracles comes and goes. A century ago, the Western world was enthralled with modernistic thinking. The Enlightenment had won the day, and miracles were seen as myths of the past. It is different today—miracles are now a part of the spiritual pursuits of many people. Yet this newfound popularity for miracles does not really bring society’s definition of miracles any closer to the biblical concept of miracles. Biblical miracles are inherently purposeful because they provide instruction about the person and work of Jesus Christ. “Jesus’ miracles serve as a foretaste and advertisement of his whole saving work. Through them we grasp the vast scope of his redemptive program, and we ground ourselves upon the rock of our hope and salvation, Christ’s work for us as Savior” (4).
There are four key functions of Jesus’ miracles as recorded in the gospels. First, Jesus’ miracles highlight the primacy of the Word. Many people, ancient and modern, can build a ministry on miracles, or at least the promise of miracles. When miracles are the foundation of ministry, miracles are also the focus of ministry. Not so with Jesus. Jesus’ miracles were meant to be signs of the primacy of Jesus’ gospel message (Luke 4:43–44). Second, Jesus’ miracles are a divine validation of Jesus’ ministry. “Jesus is the Savior from God, and his saving works performed so publicly oblige us to make a decision about him” (16).
Third, Jesus’ miracles reveal victory and healing from Christ. Jesus has power over all other forces in the world, and he has compassion on those who need healing. Power without compassion can be dangerous; compassion without power is futile. But Jesus’ miracles boldly proclaim that he has both power and compassion—something that can strike awe and reverence in our hearts. How amazing that we can know this miracle working God!
Chapter 2: “I Am Willing”: Luke 5:12–16
Jesus’ miracles are more than just “random acts of kindness.” They are living sermons. So when we read the miracle accounts in the Bible, we can stand in awe at God’s power, but we also need to pay attention to what God is saying through each miracle.
Look at the story of Jesus healing the leper in Luke 5:12–16. The leper came without precedent. This is the first time in Luke’s gospel that a person with such a grotesque disease approaches Jesus. Second, the leper had no specific promise for healing; he simply says, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Finally, he came with no invitation. Yet even without precedent, promise, or invitation, the leper came to Jesus, and he was healed. How much more should we come to Jesus when we have such a great precedent, promise, and invitation to come to our great Savior![To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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MIGHTY TO SAVE: DISCOVERING GOD'S GRACE IN THE MIRACLES OF JESUS, by Richard D. Phillips