Gospels Week 7: Miracles and Raising the Dead

Reading

see below

Questions

  • What is a miracle?
  • Why does Jesus perform miracles? Does he do it on purpose? Are they just for show?

Miracles are on the menu, folks. Also, dead bodies, lots of food (again!) and Pushing Daisies.

Having spent two weeks on Parables, this week we dove into Jesus’s teachings as expressed through the miracles he performs. There are lots (we used this list to keep track). Broadly speaking, they fall into four categories:

  • 🩺 healing – total of 28 miracles
    • 👹 of which 5 are the driving out or the casting of demons
    • ☠️ and 3 are the raising of the dead (famously, Lazarus)
  • 🍞 food and hospitality miracles – total of 5 miracles, including turning water into wine and feeding multiple thousands of people
  • 🌊 “elemental” miracles – total of 4 miracles, including walking on water, calming storms, and withering poor old figgy trees

We worked our way through these miracles, focussing on a couple that were particularly interesting to us. Here’s a bit of what we discussed:

  • Jesus has “authority” that is unlike that of the “scribes” or “teachers of the Law” (Pharisees). Where does this authority come from?
  • Are people into wine for sanitation reasons?
  • When it comes to the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1–45), it seems like Jesus does it simply to make people believe. Is it a form of showmanship, a big performance?
    • In fact, according to John, it’s the raising of Lazarus that makes the Sanhedrin decide to get Jesus killed. He’s threatening them — how? Michael points out that miracles have political ramifications, and in a way, John frames it as “a life for a life”. Lazarus is brought back, so Jesus must die. Also kind of like, Omelas vibes?
    • Why is Jesus crying? At people’s lack of faith? At his own confusion?
    • Sleep vs. death
    • Maybe Lazarus doesn’t want to come back. Maybe death is actually the natural way of things. (This is in some ways a very Jewish perspective, as opposed to the Christian idea of resurrection as the ultimate goal not only for Jesus but for everyone.)
    • How long is Mary’s hair? good question Michael.
    • Is Caiaphas a bad person, or just someone who forced God’s plan into motion?
  • The raising of Jairus’ daughter also brings up some interesting questions.
    • Gabriel points out that the meaning of death is related to the medical technology of a given time. What counts as “death”? Is it a lack of heartbeat, or cease of brain waves…?
  • Are we kind of suckling from Jesus? → More on this next week with the Last Supper! Exciting times!

Takeaways:

Bringing people back from the dead is complicated, but healing is kind of run-of-the-mill for Jesus.

Gems from the Chat

Jesus as mansplainer

Lucifer

Every time you say “god’s plan” I hear Drake

Michael

Image: “Lazarus” by Jacob Epstein, c. 1948. New College Chapel. Oxford.

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