In a culture and time period that were so male-centric, the attention that Jesus paid to women was noteworthy. All four of the gospels, and especially Luke, contain stories of Jesus healing women, teaching them, including them in his parables, and even allowing them to become part of his ministry. In addition to three individual stories about Jesus healing women, Luke also includes a summary that notes how Jesus was accompanied in his Galilean ministry by a group of women “which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities,” including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, “and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance” (Luke 8:2–3). All this is particularly striking in the cultural context of the gospels, in which Jewish men would be wary of interaction and especially any kind of physical contact with women to whom they were not related. The fact that none of these women are directly named allows them to serve as types of all women whom Jesus invites to come to him and be healed. Continue reading →
The divinity of Jesus that the miracle at Cana symbolized was even more clearly demonstrated in those nature miracles that are the clearest examples of epiphanies, or direct revelations of a divine identity. The twin examples of Jesus’ calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee and his later walking on that same body of water are striking illustrations of this because they employ common Near Eastern symbols of creation, which often involved a deity defeating the unruly powers of chaos, which were often represented with images of stormy seas. But more importantly, because the Hebrew Bible credited YHWH, or Jehovah, with the ability to subdue the sea and tread upon the face of the waters, these New Testament miracles directly connect Jesus with the Jehovah of the Old Testament.
Mark 4:35–41 gives the earliest account of Jesus stilling a storm and thereby saving his disciples. Continue reading →
One of the earliest miracles recorded in the Synoptics is the cleansing of a leper (Mark 1:40–45; Matthew 8:1–4; Luke 5:12–15). Leprosy in the biblical world was not necessarily the better known Hansen’s Disease. Instead, it was a catch-all condition for a spectrum of conditions that affected the skin or even clothing and dwellings (see Leviticus 13:1–59). While some cases may have indeed involved considerable deformity and sickness, every instance of biblical leprosy had significant ritual, and hence social, implications as the sufferer was excluded from religious life and often even the company of others. Hence, the leper who first approached Jesus needed help and attention beyond simply being healed of his disease. Continue reading →