(1) THE STORY OF JESUS
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John rearranged by Subject & in Date order
Part 13 - HIS MIRACLES OF NATURE
Sections 1-9 of Part 13 bring together all the relevant verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - in that order.
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Key: 1 - The believed order of Jesus' recorded
miracles of nature.
Also the numbers in the Contents List above
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Year One - c AD27-28
13.1 WATER INTO WINE
John 2:1-11 - Two days later (after Nathanael, or Bartholomew, had been called by Jesus to be one of his disciples) there was a wedding in the Galilean village of Cana.
Jesus' mother was there and he and his disciples were invited to the festivities. Then it happened that the supply of wine gave out, and Jesus' mother told him, "They have no more wine."
"Is that your concern, or mine?" replied Jesus. "My time has not come yet."
So his mother said to the servants, "Mind you do whatever he tells you."
In the room six very large stone water-jars stood on the floor (actually for the Jewish ceremonial cleansing), each holding about twenty gallons. Jesus gave instructions for these jars to be filled with water, and the servants filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, "Now draw some water out and take it to the master of ceremonies", which they did. When this man tasted the water, which had now become wine, without knowing where it came from (though naturally the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called out to the bridegroom and said to him, "Everybody I know puts his good wine on first and then when men have had plenty to drink, he brings out the poor stuff. But you have kept back your good wine till now!" Jesus gave this, the first of his signs, at Cana in Galilee (the second is healing the official's dying son later in John 4:43). He demonstrated his power and his disciples believed in him.
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Year Two - c AD28-29
13.2 THE FIRST MIRACULOUS CATCH OF FISH
Luke 5:4-10 - When he had finished speaking (from Simon Peter's boat to the crowds on the shore of the Sea of Galilee), he said to Simon, "Push out now into deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
Simon replied, "Master! We've worked all night, and never caught a thing, but if you say so, I'll let the nets down."
And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish - so big that the nets began to tear. So they signalled to their friends in the other boat to come and help them. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, "Keep away from me, Lord, for I'm only a sinful man!"
For he and his companions (including Zebedee's sons, James and John, Simon's partners) were staggered at the haul of fish that they had made.
Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid, Simon. From now on your catch will be men."
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13.3 CALMING THE STORM
(Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)
Matthew 8:23-27 - Then he went aboard the boat (to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee after healing many people, including the centurion's servant), and his disciples followed him. Before long a terrific storm sprang up and the boat was awash with the waves. Jesus was sleeping soundly and the disciples went forward and woke him up.
"Lord, save us!" they cried. "We are drowning!"
"What are you so frightened about, you little-faiths?" he replied.
Then he got to his feet and rebuked the wind and the waters and there was a great calm. The men were filled with astonishment and kept saying, "Whatever sort of man is this - why, even the wind and the waves do what he tells them!"
Mark 4:35-41 - On the evening of that day (after teaching in parables), he said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake."
So they sent the crowd home and took him with them in the little boat in which he had been sitting, accompanied by other small craft. Then came a violent squall of wind which drove the waves aboard the boat until it was almost swamped. Jesus was in the stern asleep on the cushion. They awoke him with the words, "Master, don't you care that we're drowning?"
And he woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, "Hush now! Be still!"
The wind dropped and everything was very still.
"Why are you so frightened? What has happened to your faith?! he asked them.
But sheer awe swept over them and they kept saying to each other, "Who ever can he be? - even the wind and the waves do what he tells them!"
Luke 8:22-25 - It happened on one of these days (again after teaching in parables) that he embarked on a boat with his disciples and said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake."
So they set sail, and when they were under way he dropped off to sleep. Then a squall of wind swept down upon the lake and they were in grave danger of being swamped. Coming forward, they woke him up, saying. "Master, master, we're drowning!"
Then he got up and reprimanded the wind and the stormy waters, and they died down, and everything was still. Then he said to them, "What has happened to your faith?"
But they were frightened and bewildered and kept saying to each other, "Who ever can this be? He gives orders even to the winds and waters and they obey him."
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Year Three - c AD29-30
13.4 FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND
(Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
- Feeding the 5,000 is the only miracle of nature or healing recorded in all four Gospels:
Matthew 14:13-21 - When he heard it (... news of the death of John the Baptist) he went away by boat (on the Sea of Galilee) to a deserted place, quite alone.
Jesus feeds a tired and hungry crowd
Then the crowds heard of his departure and followed him out of the towns on foot. When Jesus emerged from his retreat he saw a vast crowd and was very deeply moved and cured the sick among them. As evening fell his disciples came to him and said, "We are right in the wilds here and it is very late. Send away these crowds now, so that they can go into the villages and buy themselves food."
"There's no need for them to go away," returned Jesus. "You give them something to eat!"
"But we haven't anything here," they told him, "except five loaves and two fish." To which Jesus replied, "Bring them here to me."
He told the crowd to sit down on the grass. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish in his hands, and, looking up to Heaven, he thanked God, broke the loaves and passed them to his disciples who handed them to the crowd. Everybody ate and was satisfied. Afterwards they collected twelve baskets full of the pieces which were left over. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, apart from the women and children.
Mark 6:30-44 - The apostles returned to Jesus (after preaching and healing, and following the report of John the Baptist's execution) and reported to him every detail of what they had done and taught. "Now come along to some quiet place by yourselves, and rest for a little while," said Jesus, for there were people coming and going incessantly so that they had not even time for meals. They went off in the boat to a quiet place by themselves, but a great many saw them go and recognised them, and people from all the towns hurried around the shore on foot to forestall them. When Jesus disembarked he saw the large crowd and his heart was touched with pity for them because they seemed to him like sheep without a shepherd. And he settled down to teach them about many things. As the day wore on, his disciples came to him and said, "We are right in the wilds here and it is getting late. Let them go now, so that they can buy themselves something to eat from the farms and villages around here"
But Jesus replied, "You give them something to eat!"
"You mean we're to go and spend ten pounds on bread (equivalent to six month's wages)? Is that how you want us to feed them?"
"What bread have you got?" asked Jesus. "Go and have a look."
And when they found out, they told him, "We have five loaves and two fish."
Jesus miraculously feeds five thousand people
Then Jesus directed the people to sit down in parties on the fresh grass. And they threw themselves down in groups of fifty and a hundred. Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to Heaven. thanked God, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. Everybody ate and was satisfied. Afterwards they collected twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish that were left over. There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.
Luke 9:10-17 - Then the apostles returned (as in Mark's account), and when they had made their report to Jesus of what they had done, he took them with him privately and retired into a town called Bethsaida.
Jesus welcomes the crowds, teaches, heals and feeds them
But the crowds observed this and followed him. And he welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who were in need of healing. As the day drew to its close the twelve came to him and said, "Please dismiss the crowd now so that they can go to the villages and country round about and find some food and shelter, for we're quite in the wilds here."
"You give them something to eat!" returned Jesus.
"But we've nothing here," they replied, "except five loaves and two fish, unless you want us to go and buy food for all this crowd?" (There were approximately five thousand men there).
Then Jesus said to the disciples, "Get them to sit down in groups of about fifty."
This they did, making them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish and looked up to Heaven, blessed them, broke them into pieces and passed them to his disciples to serve to the crowds. Everybody ate and was satisfied. Afterwards they collected twelve baskets full of broken pieces which were left over.
John 6:1-15 - After this ...
- According to John's account, when Jesus was back in Galilee month's after Jesus had visited Jerusalem, healed the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda - not Bethsaida near the Sea of Galilee - and clashed with the authorities over his claim to be the Son of God:
... Jesus crossed the Lake of Galilee (or Tiberias), and a great crowd followed him because they had seen signs which he gave in his dealings with the sick. But Jesus went up the hillside and sat down there with his disciples. The Passover, the Jewish festival, was near. ....
- The Passover referred to here in verse 6:4 may be the Festival reported earlier in John's Gospel in verse 5: There is some evidence the original order of John was chapters 4, 6, 5, 7, which would account for this inconsistency -
.... So Jesus, raising his eyes and seeing a great crowd on the way towards him, said to Philip, "Where can we buy food for these people to eat?" (He said this to test Philip, for he himself knew what he was going to do.)
"Ten pounds' worth of bread would not be enough for them," Philip replied, "even if they had only a little each."
Then Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, another disciple, put in, "There is a boy here who has five small barley loaves and a couple of fish, but what's the good of that for such a crowd?"
Then Jesus said, "Get the people to sit down."
There was plenty of grass there, and the men, some five thousand of them, sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks for them and distributed them to the people sitting on the grass, and he distributed the fish in the same way, giving them as much as they wanted. When they had eaten enough, Jesus said to his disciples, "Collect the pieces that are left over so that nothing is wasted."
So they did as he suggested and filled twelve baskets with the broken pieces of the five barley loaves, which were left over after the people had eaten! When the men saw this sign of Jesus' power, they kept saying, "This certainly is the Prophet who was to come into the world!"
Then Jesus, realising that they were going to carry him off and make him their king, retired once more to the hill-side quite alone.
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13.5 WALKING ON WATER
(Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-24)
Matthew 14:22-33 - Directly after this (feeding the five thousand) Jesus insisted on his disciples' getting aboard their boat and going on ahead to the other side (of the Sea of Galilee), while he himself sent the crowds home. And when he had sent them away he went up the hill-side quite alone, to pray. When it grew late he was there by himself while the boat was by now a long way from the shore at the mercy of the waves, for the wind was dead against them. In the small hours Jesus went out to them, walking on the water of the lake. When the disciples caught sight of him walking on the water they were terrified. "It's a ghost!" they said, and screamed with fear. But at once Jesus spoke to them. "It's all right! It's I myself, don't be afraid!"
"Lord, if it's really you," said Peter, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come on, then," replied Jesus.
Peter stepped down from the boat and did walk on the water, making for Jesus. But when he saw the fury of the wind he panicked and began to sink, calling out, "Lord save me!" At once Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying, "You little-faith! What made you lose your nerve like that?" Then, when they were both aboard the boat, the wind dropped. The whole crew came and knelt down before Jesus, crying, "You are indeed the Son of God!"
Mark 6:45-52 - Directly after this (the feeding of the five thousand), Jesus made his disciples get aboard the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida on the other side of the lake, while he himself sent the crowds home. And when he had sent them all on their way, he went off to the hill-side to pray. When it grew late, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was by himself on land. He saw them straining at the oars, for the wind was dead against them. And in the small hours he went towards them, walking on the waters of the lake, intending to come alongside them. But when they saw him walking on the water, they thought he was a ghost, and screamed out. For they all saw him and they were absolutely terrified. But Jesus at once spoke quietly to them, "It's all right, it is I myself; don't be afraid!"
And he climbed aboard the boat with them, and the wind dropped. But they were scared out of their wits. They had not had the sense to learn the lesson of the loaves. Even that miracle had not opened their eyes to see who he was.
John 6:16-24 - In the evening (after feeding the five thousand), his disciples went down to the lake, embarked on the boat and made their way across the lake to Capernaum (just around the coast from Bethsaida). Darkness had already fallen and Jesus had not returned to them. A strong wind sprang up and the water grew very rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water, and coming towards the boat, and they were terrified. But he spoke to them, "Don't be afraid: it is I myself."
So they gladly took him aboard, and at once the boat reached the shore they were making for.
Jesus teaches about the true bread
The following day, the crowd, who had remained on the other side of the lake, noticed that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not embarked on it with his disciples, but that they had in fact gone off by themselves. Some other small boats from Tiberias had landed quite near the place where they had eaten the food and the Lord had given thanks. When the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor the disciples were there any longer, they themselves got into the boats and went off to Capernaum to look for Jesus.
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13.6 FEEDING THE FOUR THOUSAND
(Matthew 15:29-39; Mark 8:1-10)
Matthew 15:29-39 - Jesus left there (the Tyre and Sidon region where he had healed the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman), walked along the shore of the lake of Galilee, then climbed the hill and sat down. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them people who were lame, crippled, blind, dumb and many others. They simply put them down at his feet and he healed them. The result was that the people were astonished at seeing dumb men speak, crippled men healed, lame men walking about and blind men having recovered their sight. And they praised the God of Israel.
But Jesus quietly called his disciples to him. "My heart goes out to this crowd," he said. "They've stayed with me three days now and have no more food. I don't want to send them home without anything or they will collapse on the way."
"Where could we find enough food to feed such a crowd in this deserted spot?" said the disciples.
"How many loaves have you?" asked Jesus.
"Seven, and a few small fish," they replied.
Then Jesus told the crowd to sit down comfortably on the ground. And when he had taken the seven loaves and the fish into his hands, he broke them with a prayer of thanksgiving and gave them to the disciples to pass on to the people. Everybody ate and was satisfied, and they picked up seven baskets full of the pieces left over. Those who ate numbered four thousand men apart from women and children. Then Jesus sent the crowds home, boarded the boat and arrived at the district of Magadan (or Dalmanutha, in Mark's Gospel following. Neither location is known, but both probably represent Magdala).
Mark 8:1-10 - About this time (after Jesus had returned from the Tyre and Sidon area, and healed the deaf and dumb man in the Decapolis) it happened again that a large crowd collected and had nothing to eat. Jesus called the disciples over to him and said, "My heart goes out to this crowd; they have been with me three days now and they have no food left. If I send them off home without anything, they will collapse on the way - and some of them have come from a distance."
His disciples replied, "Where could anyone find the food to feed them here in this deserted spot?"
"How many loaves have you got?" Jesus asked them.
"Seven," they replied.
So Jesus told the crowd to settle themselves on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves into his hands, and with a prayer of thanksgiving broke them, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people; and this they did. They had a few small fish as well, and after blessing them, Jesus told the disciples to give these also to the people. They ate and they were satisfied. Moreover, they picked up seven baskets full of pieces left over. The people numbered about four thousand. Jesus sent them home, and then he boarded the boat at once with his disciples and went on to the district of Dalmanutha.
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13.7 A FISH PAYS THE TEMPLE TAX!
- A strange story as Jesus does not use "magic tricks". Yet it shows that although as the Son of God he did not have to pay the Temple Tax, he did so to avoid giving unnecessary offence. Matthew does not report if Peter's fishing was successful!
Matthew 17:24-27 - Then when they (Jesus and his disciples, after his Transfiguration and the healing of the epileptic boy) arrived at Capernaum the Temple tax-collectors came up and said to Peter, "Your master doesn't pay Temple-tax, we presume?"
"Oh, yes, he does!" replied Peter. Later when he went into the house Jesus anticipated what he was going to say. "What do you think, Simon?" he said. "Whom do the kings of this world get their rates and taxes from - their own people or from others?"
"From others," replied Peter.
"Then the family is exempt," Jesus told him. "Yet we don't want to give offence to these people, so go down to the lake and throw in your hook. Take the first fish that bites, open his mouth and you'll find a coin. Take that and give it to them, for both of us."
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The Last Week in Jerusalem - Spring c AD30
13.8 THE CURSED FIG-TREE THAT WITHERS AWAY
(Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14,20-26)
- Another strange story at odds with Jesus' usual character, especially as he knew it was not the season for figs. It is partly parable on the power of faith and prayer, but also a prophecy appropriate to the time and situation. If the fig-tree represents the Jewish nation, then in rejecting Jesus as the Christ, it will be barren of fruit. And in its withering away, Jesus was prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem three or four decades hence:
Matthew 21:18-22 - In the morning (after throwing over the money-changers' tables in the Temple, and staying overnight in nearby Bethany) he came back early to the city and felt hungry. He saw a fig-tree growing by the side of the road, but when he got to it he discovered there was nothing on it but leaves.
"No more fruit shall ever grow on you!" he said to it, and all at once the fig-tree withered away. When the disciples saw this happen they were simply amazed. "How on earth did the fig-tree wither away quite suddenly like that?" they asked.
"Believe me," replied Jesus, "if you have faith and have no doubts in you heart, you will not only do this to a fig-tree but even if you should say to this hill, 'Get up and throw yourself into the sea', it will happen! Everything you ask for in prayer, if you have faith, you will receive."
Mark 11:12-14,20-26 - On the following day (after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem), when they had left Bethany, Jesus felt hungry. He noticed a fig-tree in the distance covered with leaves, and he walked up to it to see if he could find any fruit on it. But when he got to it, he could find nothing but leaves, for it was not yet time for the figs. Then Jesus spoke to the tree, "May nobody ever eat fruit from you!"
And the disciples heard him say it. .......
Jesus talks of faith, prayer and forgiveness
(Verse 20 ....) One morning (after Jesus had overturned the money-changer's tables, and returned to Jerusalem as he did every day .....) as they were walking along, they noticed that the fig-tree had withered away to the roots. Peter remembered it, and said, "Master, look, the fig-tree that you cursed is all shrivelled up!"
"Have faith in God," replied Jesus to them. "I tell you that if anyone should say to this hill, 'Get up and throw yourself into the sea', and without any doubt in his heart believe that what he says will happen, then it will happen! That is why I tell you, whatever you pray about and ask for, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, you must forgive anything that you are holding against anyone else, and your Heavenly Father will forgive you your sins."
- Some manuscripts add a verse 26 to Mark's account - "But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your sins."
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After the Resurrection
13.9 THE SECOND MIRACULOUS CATCH OF FISH
John 21:1-11 - Later on (after Jesus had appeared to "doubting" Thomas), Jesus showed himself again to his disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee), and he did it in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together, when Simon Peter said, "I'm going fishing."
"All right," they replied, "we'll go with you."
So they went out and got into the boat and during the night caught nothing at all. But just as dawn began to break, Jesus stood there on the beach, although the disciples had no idea that it was Jesus.
"Have you caught anything, lads?" Jesus called out to them.
"No," they replied.
"Throw the net on the right side of the boat," said Jesus, "and you'll have a catch."
So they threw out the net and found that they were now not strong enough to pull it in because it was so full of fish! At this, the disciple that Jesus loved (traditionally the apostle John) said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"
Hearing this, Peter slipped on his clothes, for he had been naked, and plunged into the sea. The other disciples followed in the boat, for they were only about a hundred yards from the shore, dragging in the net full of fish. When they had landed, they saw that a charcoal fire was burning, with a fish placed on it. and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring me some of the fish you've just caught."
So Simon Peter got into the boat and hauled the net ashore full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three altogether. But in spite of the large number the net was not torn.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate