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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: What Objections Have Been Made to Jesus' Miracles?

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What Objections Have Been Made to Jesus’ Miracles?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 13

Historically there have been many objections to Jesus’ miracles. For a number of reasons, people have denied the miracles the New Testament attributes to Him. They include the following objections.

Objection 1: Miracles, by Definition, Are Impossible

One of the popular ways to deny miracles is simply to define them out the realm of possibility. Many people state as a fact that the idea of a miracle is impossibility. End of discussion. Everyone knows that unchangeable laws of cause and effect govern the universe. These laws have always existed and they will always continue to exist. Therefore miracles, by definition, are impossible.

Response

Of course, the problem with that position is that only God could know whether miracles are possible or not. Therefore, the denial of the possibility of miracles is something that is beyond the ability of humans.

The Illustration of the Platypus

The fallacy of the outright rejection of the miraculous can be found in the illustration of the platypus. When explorers first came to eastern Australia they came across a creature that should not have existed.

It was a furry, semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal with a ducks bill and webbed feet. It was named the platypus. The characteristics of this little rabbit-sized creature were so strange that some people in England considered it a hoax when the skin of a dead platypus was first brought to London.

The Doubts Had Nothing to Do with the Evidence

The reason the existence of the platypus was doubted had nothing to do with the evidence. For the evidence as strange as it was, clearly pointed to the existence of this egg-laying mammal. The rejection came because it did not fit the scientist’s particular view of the world of nature. Since no mammal was known to have laid eggs, zoologists were certain this creature could not exist. Eventually, all scientists came around to believe the platypus did exist with all its bizarre characteristics.

The Same Misconception Is with Us Today

Since no one had ever seen a creature like this before, people assumed that it could not exist. This is the same misconception of many of those who reject miracles—because they have never seen a miracle they assume it cannot happen. No amount of evidence would convince them to change their mind.

Yet the platypus does exist and miracles did happen; this is what the evidence testifies to. Therefore, we cannot rule out the possibility of miracles ahead of time. Indeed, we must examine the evidence.

Objection 2: The Miracles Happened in a Pre-Scientific Age

It is alleged that since the miracles recorded in the four gospels occurred some two years ago. Hence they should not be believed. These events took place before the age of modern science when people were ignorant about the way the universe functioned. We now know better. Consequently the miracles attributed to Jesus should be rejected.

Response

Granted, the miracles of Christ were recorded before modern times, yet the testimony to their truthfulness remains. The eyewitnesses to the events in the life of Christ were just as skeptical as modern humanity. In addition, as we have mentioned, their reaction to the miraculous was the same as ours would have been if we had seen the same events which they observed. In other words, they were just as surprised as we would be.

Objection 3: The Miracles Were Self-Induced

There are those who argue that the healing miracles recorded in the New Testament could have been self-induced. In the first century, before the advent of modern medicine, there was much ignorance regarding disease. Could not one easily argue that the healings of Jesus were self-induced because the illnesses were psychological rather than physical?

Response

This argument does not make sense for a number of reasons. They are as follows.

They Are beyond Natural Explanation

To begin with, a study of the Gospel accounts will put that question to rest. The healing miracles of Jesus were of such a nature as to be beyond any natural explanation.

For example, Jesus healed a man who was paralyzed (Mark 2:3-12) and another who was blind from birth (John 9:1-7). Lazarus was dead four days when Jesus brought him back to life (John 11). A young girl who was dead was brought back to life by Jesus (Luke 8:51-56). He healed ten lepers at once (Luke 17:11-19) and healed a man who was a deaf mute (Mark 7:31-37). These miracles were observed and recorded by eyewitnesses.

They Could Not All Be Self-Induced

It stretches beyond the bounds of imagination to think all these people, including the ones who had been dead, could only be ill in their minds and not in their bodies. Furthermore, we are never told of Jesus ever refusing to heal a person because of lack of ability on His part. Unless one would want to argue that no legitimate disease was present in the first century, it seems clear that His healings were often and varied enough to prove valid.

Objection 4: Why Aren’t Miracles Happening Today?

Another objection, which is similar to an earlier one, is that if miracles occurred long ago, we should expect them to occur today; if indeed they really did occur. Jesus’ miracles should be duplicated by His followers today.

Response

This objection ignores the fact that miracles are found in clusters in Scripture, not on every page. Consequently, miracles were not the norm. Indeed, they only occurred at specific times.

But even if miracles were found on every page, we would say, “So what?” The issue is, “Did they happen in the life and ministry of Jesus as the eyewitnesses testify?” Indeed, it does not necessarily follow that if miracles occurred in biblical times that they must continue to happen today.

Objection 5: There Is the Possibility of Misinterpreting the Event

This objection deals with the frailty of us as humans. We all know that it is possible to watch an event and describe it in such a way as to misinterpret what actually happened. Since humans sometimes poorly report what they have seen, then why should we believe the biblical account of miracles?

Response

If we took this objection to its logical fulfillment, then there could be no accurate reporting of any event. All reports would be suspect and nothing could be believed. Yet experience tells us that humans can accurately report on events they witness. The evidence has to be weighed and evaluated for each incident.

Even the Unbelievers Recognized the Miracles

Furthermore, there were skeptics present at most of Jesus’ miracles. They would have been looking for alternative explanations. Yet, they too acknowledged Jesus’ miraculous power. This gives further evidence that His miracles actually took place.

Objection 6: There Are Contradictions between the Accounts

Often it is alleged that the gospel accounts of the miraculous deeds of Jesus are so hopelessly contradictory that they should not be believed. Thus, the miracles of Christ should be rejected.

Response

Yet this is not the case. The fact that there are minor differences in details only shows that the accounts are independent of one another. Indeed, there is agreement between them on the major points. Consequently this provides another reason as to why Jesus’ miraculous deeds should be accepted as actually occurring.

Objection 7: We Find Miracle Reports in Other Religions

What about the miracles in other religions? Since there are other religions who also report miraculous deeds occurring among them, why should they be rejected and the miracles of Jesus Christ believed?

Response

Three things should be considered when answering this question.

A. There Were Not That Many Miracles

First, there are not as many miracles in the world religions as some people assume. Indeed, miracles are very rare in the accounts of the major religions of the world. The exception, of course, is the gospel accounts, where miracles are a central part of the message of Jesus Christ.

B. The So-Called Miracles Were Not Done Publicly

The public demonstration of Jesus with respect to His miracles is in contrast to other so-called miracle workers who did their work in private. There is no evidence that any religious leader has done public miracles that were attested to by unbelievers. Jesus, on the other hand, performed His miraculous deeds for all to see. This includes those who did not believe in Him. As we have stressed, even these unbelievers did not deny Jesus’ miracles.

There Is No Real Purpose for Them

The miracles attributed to those in other religions are not backed up by eyewitness testimony. Furthermore, they are all too often performed as a sideshow with no direct purpose in mind. Indeed, the so-called miracles of other religions do not touch humanity at its basic needs as do the miracles recorded in the life and ministry of Jesus. This, and the lack of corroborative testimony to their actually occurring in these other religions, causes them to be rejected.

Objection 8: They Were Recorded Long after the Fact

Often it is objected that the miracles of the New Testament were written long after the events transpired. This gave time for legends to grow about Jesus. Supposedly this makes the miracle accounts untrue.

Response

This objection is what is untrue. Those who recorded the events were there! They were eyewitnesses to the miracles in the life of Christ. For example, the Apostle John testified that he wrote about what he personally knew about Jesus’ life and ministry:

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. (1 John 1:1 NRSV)

These writers saw the miracles of Jesus with their own eyes.

In addition, they were written and circulated while other people who were familiar with Jesus’ life and ministry were still alive. If the New Testament writers exaggerated what had taken place these people would have corrected the record.

Furthermore, their accounts of what Jesus said and did are consistent with each other. Consequently there is no reason to believe that their stories grew larger and larger with time.

Conclusion: Jesus Worked Miracles

All the evidence we have points to the fact that Jesus Christ did indeed work miracles. Both believers and unbelievers testified to this fact. No one doubted His ability to perform supernatural deeds. The question asked Jesus was not if He performed miracles but rather how did He do these supernatural works. The truth of His miracle working ability was beyond all doubt.

Summary – Question 13
What Objections Have Been Made to Jesus Miracles?

Whenever the miracles of Jesus Christ are mentioned there are a number of objections that are usually brought up. The main objections can be summed up as follows.

To many, the idea of miracles is simply impossible. Consequently there is no reason to refute something that everyone knows does not occur. However this assumes knowledge that none of us have. Nobody is in a position to say whether miracles can or never have happened.

Another objection concerns the miracle of Jesus being done in a pre-scientific age. This supposedly makes them untrue. However when they occurred has nothing to do with whether or not they occurred. To determine this we must look at the evidence and the evidence says that they did indeed take place. Jesus was a miracle-worker.

Some attempt to argue that the miracles were merely self-induced experiences—not real miracles. The problem with this view is that many of the biblical miracles, such as raising people from the dead, cannot be attributed to some mere psychological cause.

The fact they are not happening today has also been raised. Again, this has nothing to do as to whether or not they happened in the past. The evidence must be what determines this.

There is also the objection that the event was not really a miracle but only interpreted as such. Yet this does not take into account the nature of the events or the eyewitness testimony. Indeed, there can be no purely natural explanation for the miracles of Jesus.

The gospel accounts of the miraculous deed of Jesus supposedly have contradictions between them. Yet these can be harmonized if one will carefully examine all that is said. Furthermore, a closer examination will show that the sources are independent of one another. This gives us an additional reason to believe their testimony.

The miracles in other religions do not contradict the idea of Jesus’ miracles. Indeed, they do not have the same type of attesting evidence as the signs and wonders attributed to Jesus.

Finally it is objected that they were recorded long after the fact. However this is untrue. Eyewitnesses testified to the gospel miracles. They wrote and circulated their accounts while other witnesses, both friendly and unfriendly, were still alive.

Consequently the evidence points to the fact that the Bible is accurate in attributing miracles to Jesus Christ. None of the objections against Jesus’ miracles has any merit.

Why Should Anyone Believe in the Miracles of Jesus? ← Prior Section
Could the Teachings of Jesus Have Come from a Different Source than God? Next Section →
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