The Miracles of the Master

And for my next trick! Yeshua was not a magician nor a performer, but he turned water into wine. So what’s up with the magic tricks?

Artwork from the Torah Club Jesus, My Rabbi study, lesson "The First Sign". (Image and art © First Fruits of Zion)

When Yeshua turned the water to wine at the wedding in Cana, His disciples took it as a sign. John refers to it as “the first of his signs” (John 2:11). But Yeshua did not intend it as a sign. Only the servants at the wedding (and his disciples) knew where the wine had come from.

Yeshua didn’t do the miracles to prove that He was the Messiah or show off His divine powers. When people asked Him to perform signs, He refused. When King Herod asked Him to do a wonder, He declined. He did not conduct Himself as a magician showing off his magic tricks, nor was He employing His miraculous powers to persuade people to believe in Him. On the contrary, when He healed people, He assured them that their faith had made them well, and He instructed them to keep the matter quiet. That’s not a good way to build a reputation as a miracle worker.

If Yeshua was not doing miracles to prove His divine or messianic identity, what was the point of the miracles? Notice that the miracles occur when Yeshua encounters some genuine need. People come to Him seeking help. The Gospels often say that He is moved by compassion for them. It’s not as if He went out looking for people to impress with His powers. Instead, it seems that, as the representative of the kingdom, He just couldn’t help Himself from helping others by bringing the power of the future kingdom into their present lives. The miracles manifested the good news message, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They indicated just how close at hand the Messianic Era had drawn. The kingdom was so close that it was breaking through into the present.

According to the prophets, wine will flow in abundance in the Messianic Era. Yeshua borrowed from the abundance of the kingdom to supply the wedding at Cana. All the miracles of the Messiah relate to Jewish expectations of the kingdom era in some fashion or another. In the Messianic Era, sickness will be removed, the dead will be raised, and Satan will be chained. Therefore, when He sent out His disciples, Yeshua instructed them to preach the good news, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons” (Matthew 10:7-8). He cited the prophecies of Isaiah, “He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor … release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18), then He healed the blind and freed those oppressed by evil spirits. In the kingdom, the earth will yield such abundance that starvation will be eliminated. Bread will be abundant, as the provision of manna in the wilderness.

When Yeshua saw a need in the form of several thousand hungry people, He divided a few loaves and fed multitudes. The miracles occurred when Yeshua encountered a genuine need that will be satisfied in the kingdom. He brought the presence of the kingdom with Him and, therefore, the power of the kingdom. When Yeshua is present, it is as if the boundary that separates this current age from the kingdom has become permeable, and the kingdom is leaking through it.

The miracle at Cana follows the same pattern. Yeshua encounters a genuine and legitimate need that will be satisfied in the kingdom—the need for wine. He reaches into the future, so to speak, and draws from its bounty. He brings the vintage of the Messianic Era into the present.

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