The Purpose of Jesus’ Miracles in John’s Gospel
Understanding the Purpose Behind Jesus’ Miracles
What’s the purpose of Jesus’ miracles? Have you ever wondered why Jesus performed those awe-inspiring signs? You know, those mind-bending miracles like walking on water, resurrecting the dead, and multiplying loaves of bread to feed thousands? It’s easy to assume, “Well, that’s what God does, right? I mean if I could walk on water and fill my refrigerator without taking a trip to the grocery store, I’d do it too.” But wait a second. Because there’s more to these signs than meets the eye.
Beyond Spectacle: Jesus’ Miracles as Messages
Consider this: Jesus didn’t do anything on a whim. In fact, God doesn’t do anything for no reason. Everything Jesus does he does on purpose. That means every miracle Jesus performed had a purpose—it wasn’t merely to dazzle the crowds.
The Gospel of John proves this. It’s organized around seven distinct signs. More than that, John himself gets straight to the point at the end of his Gospel. He writes, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).
In other words, these signs aren’t merely meant to inspire awe. Rather, they’re meant to help us recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Why? Because recognizing Jesus for who he truly is allows us to truly believe in him. And that’s the only way to receive eternal life.
Jesus Miraculously Feed the 5,000: More Than a Picnic
Let’s unpack one of these extraordinary signs—feeding the 5,000. It’s about more than an awesome, spontaneous picnic. And it’s not about Jesus showing off His power to the crowds. Rather, it’s about Jesus revealing his true identity. Jesus’ miracle is meant to tell us something about who he is and what he’s doing.
That’s something we must understand. A true sign is more than a spectacle. Instead, it links directly to God’s promise in the Old Testament and indicates its fulfillment in the present.
Jesus’ Miracles and the Old Testament
Let me explain. Consider the Exodus and Israel’s time spent wandering in the wilderness. One of their biggest concerns was how they would manage to procure enough food to survive. So, God intervened. He miraculously provided bread from heaven to sustain them. It was called “manna.” Now, fast forward to Jesus’ time. Here he is miraculously feeding the masses in the wilderness outside of Bethsaida with a couple loaves of bread and a few fish.
What does the sign tell us about who Jesus is and what Jesus is doing?
First, it tells us that Jesus is greater than Moses.
Like Moses, Jesus is leading God’s people in a new Exodus. Yet, rather than delivering them from slavery in Egypt, Jesus delivers us from our slavery to sin and death.
Second, it tells us that Jesus is God’s provision for our sin.
Jesus wasn’t in the restaurant business. And he wasn’t simply solving a problem to keep people from getting hangry during his teaching. This miracle was about revealing himself as the one God has provided to sustain us both in life and death. In a word, it was meant to reveal Jesus as the one who will bring us safely into God’s eternal kingdom.
But wait, there’s more.
Understanding Jesus’ Miracles in John’s Gospel
After Jesus feeds the 5,000, the crowds start following him around. Unfortunately, they aren’t following him because they believe he is the Messiah. Instead, they’re looking for another free lunch. As a result, Jesus confronts the crowds, and he boldly declares himself to be the “True Bread of Life.”
What does this mean?
We’re meant to recall the very first Passover. Centuries before this, God was acting to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt. He used Moses and Aaron to perform signs and wonders in an attempt to convince Pharaoh to let Israel go. The last plague was the most devastating of all: death to the firstborn in all of Egypt. Before God brought about this plague of death, he gave Israel instructions through Moses. These instructions were meant to spare Israel from this awful judgment. Accordingly, they were instructed to butcher a lamb, spread its blood on the doorpost of their homes, cook the meat in a particular manner, and eat it with their entire household. By believing God’s word and acting accordingly, the angel of death “passed over” Israel. In other words, they were spared from death and saved to live.
Jesus’ Miracles Reveal He is The True Passover Lamb
What we learn about Jesus from the sign is simple: Jesus is the “True Passover Lamb.” In other words, he is God’s provision for our sin. Jesus is the one who saves us from death. This isn’t just rhetoric. In fact, Jesus lays it out plainly. In John 5:24, He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (italics mine).
Jesus performs the sign and feeds the 5,000 in the wilderness to show us who he is and what he’s doing. If we believe he is God’s provision for our sin, then we receive eternal life. That means we are spared from judgment. Instead, we are saved to live forever in God’s perfect kingdom.
What to Takeaway from Jesus’ Miracles in the Gospel of John
Jesus’ signs aren’t random displays of power. Instead, they’re profound messages about his identity and mission. Moreover, they’re invitations for us to recognize who he is, believe in him, and receive the incredible blessing of eternal life.
So, the next time you encounter a miracle in the Gospels, take a moment to ponder—not just the spectacle but the deeper significance behind it. It’s meant to inspire more than wonder in our hearts. It’s meant to show us who Jesus is so that we can believe in him. And when we believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, we have life in his name.