December 25, 2020

The First Miracle

Interesting to consider how the gospel writers treat the first miracle of Jesus’s public ministry and what it might say about the miraculous in general (perhaps to focus more on the words than on the miraculous). 

Matthew: very cursory couple of verses in chapter 4 saying that Jesus performed a lot of miracles before getting to the Sermon on the Mount which consumes chapters 5, 6, and 7.  “Word” before “deed”. Then chapter 8 leads with the first specific miracle: a leper asked for healing after which Jesus says, “tell no one”. 

Mark: the first miracle recounted seems inadvertent and unplanned; Jesus was teaching and suddenly a man with an unclean spirit puts him on the spot by saying, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? I know who you are - the Holy One of God.” And Jesus heals the man seemingly almost of necessity. 


Luke: like the other gospels Jesus begins with preaching and then finds himself in what looks like quite a pickle: the people in the synagogue were roused to fury by his words and intended to kill him, having cornered him on a high cliff edge, but he passed through the crowd unharmed in what would seem to be his first miracle. (The next one is the same as recounted in Mark.)


John: Again a reluctance to start with miracles although Nathaniel believed he saw one in a private revelation of sorts that led him to follow Jesus after first discounting “what good can come of Nazareth?” The more famous miracle that comes next is that at Cana after he remarked to Mary “what does this have to do with you and me?”


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