In this short piece, I will highlight four books that have been helpful in sermon preparation on the miracles of Jesus, a subject which occupies about twenty percent of the contents of the Gospels. All four books presuppose that the preacher believes that miracles are supernatural events which actually happened, and variously that they are indicators of the new Messianic realities that Jesus ushered in, that they look back to OT miracles, and that they look forward to the consummated kingdom, as well as providing valuable lessons for the life of discipleship. Overall, they illustrate that Jesus is fully divine. The books will be highlighted chronologically.
(1854) John Cumming. Lectures on Our Lord’s Miracles. Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston. Available online. Cumming covers 20 miracles from all four Gospels and his turns of phrase are memorable. For example, he comments on the healing of the leper (Matthew 8) as such:
The fact that Christ touched the leper is a gleam of an inner and hidden truth, that he was more than man. If Jesus had been a mere man, to have touched the leper would have been to defile himself; but he was more than man, and did not, therefore, defile himself, but cured the leper of his leprosy. The sun that shines in the firmament casts his beams upon all that is polluted on the earth below, but retains unscathed his own purity and splendour. Infinite health could come into contact with disease, and not be diseased ; infinite and eternal life could come into contact with death, and neither be tainted nor die. The fact therefore that Jesus touched the leper, and when he did so, cured him, is the evidence that he was more than man, the mighty God, the Prince of Peace. (pp. 136-137)
(2015) Gerald M. Bilkes. Mercy Revealed: A Cross-Centered Look at Christ’s Miracles. Grand Rapids, MI.: Reformation Heritage Books. Bilkes covers 22 miracles from the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. As the title suggests they are pointers to the mercy of God and also to the cross. Bilkes makes ample use of hymns to augment his description of miracles.
(2016) Vern S. Poythress. The Miracles of Jesus: How the Savior’s Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption. Wheaton, IL, Crossway Books. Available online for free download: Poythress covers 25 miracles, exclusively from the Gospel of Matthew. He helpfully looks at the miracles of Jesus retrospectively, for example, the multiplication of the loaves by the miracle of the multiplication of manna and in a similar story with Elisha (2 Kings 4:42-44). He also looks at the miracles of Jesus as foretastes of the consummated kingdom where the wedding feast of the Lamb has an abundance of food. Poythress uses Edmund Clowney’s triangle of symbolic references, history of revelation and typological references for each of the miracles. As much as the schematic is helpful to situate each miracle in the larger scheme of biblical revelation, at times it seems a bit forced.
(2016) Keith Warrington. The Miracles in the Gospels: What Do They Teach Us About Jesus? Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. Warrington’s text is the most comprehensive of the lot, as he covers every miracle in the 4 Gospels and he engages with other scholars and also the intricacies of the Greek text without being overly academic. His text also feature a large bibliography with many journal articles and suggested further readings. Of his reason for writing the text, he states that, “to miss this portrait of God as he is radiated in Jesus through the writings of the Gospels is to rob oneself of extraordinary opportunities to discover significant truth” (p. 1).
Product Description from the flyleaf:
Keith Warrington’s book paints a compelling picture of Jesus as miracle worker. It shows how miracles functioned as a strategy in his ministry, and explains why some miracles are recorded differently in different Gospels. In this magisterial study, Keith Warrington paints a rounded picture of Jesus as a miracle worker by exploring each of the miracles in the Gospels in their literary and historical setting. He demonstrates that, while the miracles are historically authentic, there are several reasons for their presence in the Gospels other than simply to identify Jesus as a miracle worker. They are also intended to function as vehicles of teaching: expressing aspects of the mission and person of Jesus, providing lessons for his would-be disciples and adding theological value for each Gospel’s original audience.