David Spriggs: The Miracles of Jesus - Everybody's Talking About Them!

‘Everybody’s talking about them!’ Well, if they’re not they certainly should be. They certainly were when Jesus carried out his miracles. Even when he asked people to keep quiet, as for instance, the healed leper, whom Jesus instructed to go and show himself to the priest to verify his healing and certify his cleansing so he could be received back into the community (Mark 1. 40 – 45). Understandably he was soon telling people the amazing healing he had experienced. |PIC1| Equally, there was no way that the crowd who had gathered to hear Jesus teach in a house in Capernaum would or could keep quiet. Not only had they experienced the roof being ripped off over their heads, not only had they seen a man who had been paralysed for years get up and walk away carrying his bed, they had also seen the scribes and Pharisees routed by the sharp edged words and the amazing deeds of Jesus (Mark 2. 1-12). And so it went on, throughout much of his ministry according to the Gospels. Even his opponents had to admit he performed miracles. Their PR machine came up with the spin that he was accomplishing such staggering things by being in league with Satan (Mark 3. 22 –27), but Jesus was easily able to challenge that perspective as nonsense. All of this, and much more, adds up to the unmistakable point that the miracles of Jesus were a major talking point for his contemporaries and this is the starting point for the BBC, three hour-long programmes looking at Jesus through his miracles.

These three programmes contain some fascinating material. To start with there is the quality of the TV programmes themselves. There are three kinds of visuals. First are stunning views of Israel today from the Dead Sea where the famous ‘scrolls’ were found to the Lake of Galilee and cosmopolitan Jerusalem, to archaeological sites. Then there are reconstructions of biblical scenes, often portrayed very convincingly, not least the brutality of scourging and crucifixion. Sometimes, however done with powerful computer support – as the storm on the Lake, or with poetic sensitivity when Jesus intervenes to bring back to life the son of the widow who lived in Nain. Finally there is the entrancing commentary of Rageh Omaar. Some Christians have complained that it was wrong to have a Muslim presenter, but I see this as a huge advantage, from an apologetic and evangelism perspective. Rageh has a great persona, a clear and engaging voice and above all a reputation for integrity. His reports during the invasion of Baghdad have gained him the reputation for calmness and fairness. These are great assets if we want people to explore again the significance of the fact that the heart of Christianity is a strong and compassionate Jesus who did amazing things.

|TOP|In the first programme we are allured into discovering what some key miracles would have meant to his contemporaries. Through the miracles they would see him as another Elijah, Moses or Messiah. In the second programme the stakes are, if anything, even higher for we are encouraged to see that for Jesus they, together with his baptism and temptation experiences, probably ensured that he saw himself as the Son of God. Furthermore we are shown how it was that he could possibly have understood that crucifixion fitted into all of this through the lens of the ‘suffering servant’ in Isaiah. The final programme brings us to the greatest miracle - not only of the resurrection of Jesus but the birth of the church through the miracle of Pentecost and the staggering penetration of the Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire.

So, I certainly hope that many people are talking about the BBC programmes and through them the Miracles of Jesus. There is much here to freshen up Christian appreciation of Jesus through his miracles. But there is also a huge opportunity for evangelism trough these programmes. We have been gifted with a great opportunity to talk about them with our family, workmates, friends and neighbours. Of course, there are several comments we might want to question. Of course, there is a great deal else to be said about Jesus in the light of the Gospels, let alone Acts and the Epistles. But why not make sure that you’ve watched the programmes and then ask your contacts what they made of them? Or, and maybe this is even better, if you missed them ask around until you find someone who did see them and ask them to tell you about them!|AD|

When Peter addressed the crowds on the Day of Pentecost, he began by saying,
Jesus of Nazareth was a man whose divine authority was clearly proven to you by all the miracles and wonders which God performed through him. (Acts 2. 22 – Good News Bible).

The BBC presentation of Jesus’ miracles can help us engage people through the same basic realities.

But these programmes bring other opportunities. In November Bible Society will be issuing the DVD set. This will include the DVDs with all three, 60-minute, programmes (these will be ‘chapterised’) plus a resource for RE teachers (approximately 32 page, A4 booklet –written for 14-18 year olds) as one pack.

This DVD and the written resource will be really valuable as background for sermons, or house groups (the school ‘bits’ such as exam questions and syllabus matrix can be ignored!)

We are also working on more materials just for church contexts which may be available on the web site even earlier.

But we would really value Christian teachers or Heads or parents, or pupils alerting RE teaching staff about the DVD set (including the teacher’s book). And, of course, it would be great if churches ordered packs to present to their local schools.

Although the DVD sets will not be available until November, there is no need to wait! Pre-orders can be placed now at www.miraclesofjesus.org.uk (the number of copies is limited).

So let’s make sure that everybody is talking not only about the Miracles of
Jesus but also about Jesus.

David Spriggs

|PIC2|David Spriggs is a Local Baptist Minister for 20 years; Previously headed up the Evangelism Department of the Evangelical Alliance; Now working for Bible Society in various roles relating to the place of the Bible in the mission of the church in England and Wales, currently Bible and Church Consultant; Author of several books, and many articles mainly on church leadership and growth, prayer and spirituality, the Bible; Writes regularly for a number of daily Bible reading notes publishers, including, BRF, CWR, IBRA, SU and Living Light. For more information about the Bible Society please click www.biblesociety.org.uk