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02/23/2010

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Keith

Even Jesus' calming of the storm would seem to be more than just a dazzling demonstration of His power over nature -- in light of Matt 8:25 and what a raging sea represents in the Bible (2Sam 22:5; Ps 32:6; 42:7, with 1Thess 1:10 in view).

Gordon Cheng

Is this true of all the miracles? What of the feeding of the 5000; miraculous catches of fish, and cursings of figtrees, for example? Don't they signify something other than, or as well as, atonement?

Lee

The feeding of the 5000, yes. See John's interpretation of that miracle in John 6 -- he is the bread from heaven and gives us his flesh to eat. The miraculous catches of fish can be seen in a similar light. Our deepest needs are not physical but spiritual. The cursing of the fig tree is more specifically related to the judgement on Israel, but why is Israel being judged? Because they have rejected the Messiah. In each case, there is certainly a demonstration of Jesus' divine power over nature, and I don't want to minimize that, but I want to argue that his power is in the service of the work of salvation via the cross and resurrection.

Keith Balser

Several passages give strong testimony to the fact that "His power is in the service of the work of salvation via the cross and resurrection": Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees for demanding "power encounters" (Matt 12:38,39; 16:1-4)when they had no clue of their dire spiritual need and thus no capacity to perceive or profit from the spiritual significance of such miraculous signs; Jesus' firm declaration in Luke 16:30,31 that even a miraculous "raising from the dead" would be of no benefit to those blind to their own spiritual deadness; and Jesus' refusal in Matthew 27:53,54 to, in effect, defeat His redemptive mission by exercising His divine authority to overwhelm the 600-man cohort arresting Him with 72,000 instantly-deployed angelic troops.

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