“I was especially fond of the sons of men.”
1, 2. What is one proof of Jesus’ deep love for mankind?
GOD’S firstborn Son was the earliest and most complete expression of Jehovah’s unfathomable wisdom. He was wisdom personified, “a master worker” alongside his Father. We can only imagine the joy and satisfaction that he experienced as his Father “prepared the heavens” and “established the foundations of the earth.” However, though appreciating these inanimate things, God’s firstborn Son “was especially fond of the sons of men.” (Prov. 8:22-31) Yes, Jesus has a fondness, or tender affection, for mankind that stretches back to his prehuman existence.
2 Later, as proof of his loyalty and love for his Father, as well as of his deep love for “the sons of men,” God’s Firstborn willingly “emptied himself” and came to be in the likeness of men. He did so in order to provide “a ransom in exchange for many.” (Phil. 2:5-8; Matt. 20:28) What love he has for the human family! While Jesus was on earth, God empowered him to perform miracles that revealed how much he loved people. Jesus thus demonstrated the kind of marvelous things that will soon take place earth wide.
3. On what will we now focus?
3 Jesus’ coming to earth also enabled him to “declare the good news of the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 4:43) Jesus knew that this Kingdom would serve to sanctify his Father’s name and would be the permanent solution to all human ills. Not surprisingly, woven throughout the fabric of Jesus’ preaching tours were evidences of his genuine concern for the human family. Why should this matter to us? Because the lessons we learn will inspire confidence and hope for the future. Let us examine four of Jesus’ miracles.
“POWER WAS WITH HIM TO DO HEALING”
4. Describe Jesus’ encounter with a leper.
4 Jesus was well into his public ministry, and his most recent area of activity was Galilee. In one of the cities there, Jesus encountered a pitiful sight. (Mark 1:39, 40) Right in front of him was a man with a frightful disease, leprosy. Testifying to the advanced stage of the man’s illness, physician Luke describes him as being “full of leprosy.” (Luke 5:12) “When he caught sight of Jesus, [the leper] fell facedown and begged him: ‘Lord, if you just want to, you can make me clean.’” The man had no doubt that Jesus possessed the power to heal him, but what he needed to know was, did Jesus have the desire to do so? How would Jesus respond to this heartfelt request? What was Jesus thinking as he beheld this man who was probably disfigured? Would Jesus be like the Pharisees, who had developed a heartless view of people suffering from this disease? What would you have done?
5. What moved Jesus to say “I want to!” when healing the leper?
5 Apparently, this leprous man had neglected to call out “Unclean, unclean!” as the Mosaic Law stipulated. Jesus did not bring that up. Rather, he concentrated on the man himself and his needs. (Lev. 13:43-46) We do not know exactly what thoughts were going through Jesus’ mind, but we do know what was in his heart. Moved with compassion, Jesus did the incredible. He stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and with a voice reflecting both strength and tenderness, Jesus said: “I want to! Be made clean.” Then “the leprosy vanished from him.” (Luke 5:13) Indeed, Jehovah’s power was there
6. What is noteworthy about the miracles Jesus performed, and what do they show?
6 God’s power enabled Jesus Christ to perform a wide variety of astounding miracles. He cured not only leprosy but also every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people. The inspired record tells us: “The crowd felt amazement as they saw the speechless speaking and the maimed being made sound and the lame walking and the blind seeing.” (Matt. 15:31) To perform such acts of compassion, Jesus needed no organ donors for transplants. He healed the very organs or body parts that were afflicted! And he healed people instantly, sometimes even from a distance. (John 4:46-54) What do these amazing examples show? That Jesus, now enthroned as heavenly King, has not only the power but also the desire to bring about permanent healing. Learning about the way Jesus treated people gives us confidence that in the new world, the Bible prophecy will be fulfilled: “He will have pity on the lowly and the poor.” (Ps. 72:13) Yes, Jesus will then act on his heart’s desire to help all afflicted ones.
“GET UP! PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK”
7, 8. Describe the events that led Jesus to a paralyzed man at the pool of Bethzatha.
7 A few months passed after Jesus’ encounter with the leprous man in Galilee. His travels took him from Galilee into Judea to preach and declare the good news of God’s Kingdom. The lives Jesus touched with his message and his manner must have numbered into the thousands. He clearly desired to declare good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to bind up the brokenhearted.
8 Then the month of Nisan arrived. In obedience to his Father’s command, Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem for the Passover. The city was alive with activity as the people arrived for this sacred festival. Just north of the temple was a pool known as Bethzatha, and there Jesus encountered a sick man.
9, 10. (a) What drew people to the pool of Bethzatha? (b) What did Jesus do at the pool, and what does this teach us? (See opening image.)
9 Large crowds of sick and infirm people would gather at Bethzatha. What drew them to this location? For some unexplained reason, they believed that if a sick person entered the pool when the waters were agitated, he would be miraculously cured. Imagine the feelings that must have prevailed! Desperation, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness no doubt hung heavily in the air. But what is it that drew Jesus there, a perfect man without physical defect? Well, moved with pity, Jesus approached a man who had been sick longer than Jesus had been alive on earth.
10 Can you picture the despair in the sick man’s eyes when Jesus inquired if he wanted to get well? The response was immediate. The man wanted to be healed but he could not see how, for he had no one to help him into the pool. Jesus then commanded the man to do the impossible
“WHO TOUCHED MY OUTER GARMENTS?”
11. How does Mark 5:25-34 highlight Jesus’ compassion for those who suffer from sickness?
11 Read Mark 5:25-34. For 12 years, the woman lived with shame. Her sickness had an impact on every aspect of her life, including her worship. Although “she had suffered much at the hands of many physicians and had spent all her resources,” she had become worse. But one day, the woman had a different plan to get well. She put herself in a position to be near the man named Jesus. She entered a crowd and touched Jesus’ outer garment. (Lev. 15:19, 25) Jesus realized that power had gone out of him, so he asked who had touched him. “Frightened and trembling,” the woman “fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” Realizing that it was his Father, Jehovah, who had healed the woman, Jesus treated her kindly, saying: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed from your grievous sickness.”
12. (a) From what we have considered thus far, how would you describe Jesus? (b) What example did Jesus set for us?
12 How kind Jesus is! We see that he has a warm place in his heart for those who suffer from illnesses. Satan wants to convince us that we are unloved and worthless. By his miracles, Jesus clearly proved that he truly cares about us and our problems. What a sympathetic King and High Priest! (Heb. 4:15) It may not be easy for us to understand the feelings of those who suffer from a chronic illness, especially if we have never experienced such. We can bear in mind that Jesus empathized with the sick even though he himself was never sick. May Jesus’ example move us to do the same, to the best of our ability.
“JESUS GAVE WAY TO TEARS”
13. What does the resurrection of Lazarus reveal about Jesus’ personality?
13 Jesus’ heart was touched by the pain of others. Deeply moved by others’ reaction to the death of his friend Lazarus, Jesus “groaned” and “became troubled.” He felt that way even though he knew that he would shortly bring Lazarus back to life. (Read John 11:33-36.) Jesus was not ashamed to manifest strong emotions. Onlookers could see the affection Jesus felt for Lazarus and his family. What compassion Jesus showed by using his God-given power to bring his friend back to life!
14, 15. (a) What indicates Jehovah’s strong desire to rid mankind of suffering? (b) Why is the expression “memorial tombs” of interest?
14 The Bible describes Jesus as “the exact representation of [the Creator’s] very being.” (Heb. 1:3) Thus, by his miracles, Jesus proved that he and his Father have the desire to undo the pain of sickness and death. This desire extends far beyond the few resurrections recorded in the Bible. Jesus stated: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will . . . come out.”
15 Jesus’ use of the expression “memorial tombs” is appropriate, for God’s memory is involved. Almighty God, the One responsible for creating the vast universe, can remember every detail of each of our dead loved ones, including natural and acquired traits. (Isa. 40:26) And it is not only that he can remember but that he and his Son want to do so. Lazarus’ resurrection and that of others recorded in the Bible portend what will take place on a global scale in the new world.
JESUS’ MIRACLES AND YOU
16. What will be the privilege of many modern-day Christian integrity-keepers?
16 If we maintain our Christian integrity, we may well witness one of the greatest miracles of all time
17, 18. (a) What was evidently a major purpose of Jesus’ miracles? (b) Why should you put forth effort to be in God’s new world?
17 Jesus’ healings in the past encourage the “great crowd” today, reinforcing their joyous prospect of being healed of all ills. (Rev. 7:9) Those healings reflected his deep feelings and showed just how much love God’s firstborn Son has for mankind. (John 10:11; 15:12, 13) Jesus’ compassion paints a touching portrait of Jehovah’s concern for each one of his servants.
18 Mankind is groaning, full of pain, and dying. (Rom. 8:22) We need God’s new world, where there will be the complete physical healing that he has promised. Malachi 4:2 gives us reason to trust that the healed ones will “skip about like fattened calves,” excited and delighted to be released from confinement to imperfection. May heartfelt gratitude to God coupled with deep faith in his promises move us to do now whatever is needed to qualify to be in that new world. How heartening it is to know that the miracles Jesus performed while on earth were foregleams of the lasting relief that mankind will soon enjoy under his Messianic rule!