The Miraculous Insight of Jesus Christ
The miracles of Christ are proof that he is the Son of God (John 20:31). The Gospel writers record many of the miracles of Jesus, but certainly not all of them (John 20:30; 21:25).
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, collectively relate to us seventeen bodily cures, nine miracles over the laws of nature, six demonic cures, and three resurrections. Additionally, statements are made concerning miracles that Jesus performed that are without any specific details.
But there is another category of miracles, sometimes overlooked because of its subtle nature; this group is miraculous nonetheless. It provides, therefore, additional proof of the deity of Christ.
This category could be designated as miracles of knowledge or insight. In other words, Jesus demonstrated his ability to know things which could not have been known by an ordinary man. We recognize these incidents when we encounter them in the Gospels, but let us consider a number of them together, as a study in itself.
When the Lord was in Jerusalem, at the first Passover recorded during his earthly ministry, the apostle John wrote that many people believed on him, beholding the signs he did.
“But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men, and because he needed not that any one should bear witness concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25).
The Lord had a unique insight into human beings. He knew superficial faith for what it was. At the very least, we see that the ability of Jesus to perceive things concerning men was extraordinary.
Merrill C. Tenney illustrated the point by saying:
“He [Christ] could teach people more accurately than a doctor can read physical symptoms in diagnosing an illness” (46).
The miraculous knowledge of Christ is keenly observed on several occasions. In John chapter one, we find that Philip brought Nathaniel to Christ, saying, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).
Nathaniel was somewhat skeptical, expressing the view, “Can any good thing come of Nazareth?” (v. 46).
Philip simply responded, “Come and see.” When Jesus met him, he commended him: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (v. 47).
Nathaniel was perplexed, and he asked Jesus how it was that he knew him.
The Lord then remarked, “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (v. 48).
Nathaniel immediately recognized the miraculous insight of Christ, and he agreed with Philip’s conclusion: Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (v. 49).
Another conversation of Christ leads us to consider his miraculous ability to know facts unattainable on a strictly human level. When traveling through Samaria, the Lord and his disciples stopped to rest at Jacob’s well. The disciples went into the city to buy food. A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water, and Jesus initiated a conversation with her.
He asked her for a drink of water. She was amazed that he would speak to her, a Samaritan woman. The Lord informed her that he had a “living water” that could quench one’s thirst forever.
She was intrigued by the thought of this “living water,” although she did not understand the deep spiritual truths expressed by the Lord in the symbolism.
Christ told her to go get her husband. She replied, “I have no husband” (John 4:17). Jesus, knowing the most intimate details of her life, acknowledged that she had spoken correctly. For, he said to the woman, “You have had five husbands, and the man you are now with is not your husband” (vv. 17-18).
The woman recognized that the Lord was no ordinary man; she confessed that he must be a prophet (v. 19).
Near the end of the conversation, the Samaritan woman introduced the subject of the Messiah. Jesus said, “I that speak unto thee am he” (v. 26).
The woman, having been amazed at Jesus’ miraculous insight, went into the city, saying to the people, “Come, and see a man, who told me all things that ever I did: can this be the Christ?” (v. 29).
The final week of the Lord’s earthly ministry involved a number of instances when his use of miraculous insight was displayed. When he prepared to enter into Jerusalem, five days before the Passover, he told two of his disciples to go into the village.
“You will find a donkey and her colt. Untie them, and bring them. When you are asked, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of them.’”
He noted also that the colt would be one on which no man had ever ridden.
Jesus miraculously knew exactly what would be found, where the animals would be, how they would be confined, that the disciples would be questioned, the animals would be relinquished, and that the colt never had been ridden.
After Jesus was glorified, the disciples looked back on the events of this day with amazement and wonder (John 12:16).
Later in the week, Christ made preparations for the Passover meal. He instructed Peter and John to secure a place where they could eat the Passover. They asked where they might do this. The Lord revealed that when the two disciples entered the city, they would find a man carrying a pitcher of water. They were to follow that man. Interestingly, they would enter the house of the man they followed. Then, they were to ask the owner of the house, “Where is your guest room?”
“Just by chance” the man had a large upper room, suitable for their needs, and gave permission for the Lord and his disciples to use the house.
Again, Jesus demonstrated his ability to know the most minute details of events, even before they happened.
Consider this as well. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him. He revealed that Peter would deny him. He also indicated to Peter the number of times he would deny him (three), and when he would deny him (before the rooster crows twice). Christ also told the disciples that all of them would be scattered that night.
These incidents of miraculous insight may be compared with another form of knowledge that is generally referred to as foreknowledge, or predictive prophecy.
The Lord not only knew the most intimate details of events currently unfolding, he could also look into the distant future and “call the things that are not, as though they were” (Romans 4:17; e.g., the destruction of Jerusalem — Luke 19:43-44; Matthew 22:7). These events were a different kind of “sign” than the healing Jesus performed. Yet,they clearly were supernatural.
The Lord did not always avail himself of miraculous knowledge during his ministry (cf. Matthew 24:36), but when he did, he gave yet another proof that he is the Christ, the Son of God.
- Tenney, Merrill C. 1961. “John,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 9. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.