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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Case for Christianity

Don Stewart :: The Miracles of Jesus Christ

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Chapter 8 – The Miracles of Jesus Christ

He Demonstrated Authority over Every Realm

Jesus’ claims were backed up by three lines of evidence; His miraculous deeds, prophecies made about Him which He fulfilled, and His resurrection from the dead. This chapter looks at His miracles.

The first section deals with the biblical definition of a miracle. We will discover that Scripture uses the term miracle in two distinct ways; a natural event where the miracle is in the timing, and a purely supernatural event which has no natural explanation.

Our next section gives twenty-two reasons as to why the miracles of Jesus should be believed. This gives extensive evidence as to why the accounts of Jesus’ miracles did indeed occur.

Our final section lists some common objections to Jesus’ miracles. We will discover that all the objections to miracles can easily be dealt with.

We will conclude that the miracles attributed to Jesus did indeed happen and they demonstrate that He had the right to make the claims which He made. No other explanation fits all the facts.

Part 1 – What Are Biblical Miracles?

The first line of evidence that we will examine, to determine if Jesus is the One whom He claimed to be, is His miraculous deeds. Jesus Himself appealed to miracles as a testimony to His Divine character. When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent messengers to Jesus to ask if He were the Christ. The Bible says,

John the Baptist, who was now in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you really the Messiah we’ve been waiting for, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him about what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11:2-5 NLT)

This would remind them of various Old Testament passages—including Isaiah 35:5, 6. This passage reads as follows:

Then blind eyes will open, deaf ears will hear. Then the lame will leap like a deer, the mute tongue will shout for joy; for water will flow in the desert, streams in the wilderness. (Isaiah 35:5, 6 NET)

Jesus, therefore, appealed to His miracles to back up His claims.

On another occasion, He said to His disciples:

“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.” (John 14:11 NRSV)

Therefore, miracles are an important part of the case for Christianity seeing that it is Jesus’ specific claim to substantiate His identity—it is not our claim.

The Word Miracle Is Used in Two Ways: Miracles of Timing and the Purely Supernatural

What is a miracle? The word miracle is used in two different ways in Scripture. In the first instance, it is used to describe an unusual or natural event that occurs at a precise time. This is usually in answer to prayer. The miracle is in the timing—not in the event itself.

The second way in which the word miracle is used in the Bible concerns events that are purely supernatural—there is no natural explanation for them.

Examples of Miracles of Timing

There are examples of this type of miracle in the gospels. They include the following.

The Miraculous Catch of Fish Is a Miracle of Timing

On two separate occasions, the gospels record Jesus being involved in a miraculous catch of fish. Luke records one of these incidents:

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we were hard at work all night and caught nothing; but if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ They did so and made such a huge catch of fish that their nets began to split. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and loaded both boats to the point of sinking. (Luke 5:4-7 REB)

There is nothing remarkable about fishermen putting out their nets and bringing in a huge catch of fish. However, the miracle here is in the timing of the event.

After Jesus’ resurrection, John reports an incident between Jesus and several of His disciples on the Sea of Galilee. The Bible says,

When it was already very early morning, Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you don’t have any fish, do you?” They replied, “No.” He told them, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they threw the net, and were not able to pull it in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:4-6 NET)

Again, there is nothing miraculous about throwing a net into the water and having it filled with fish. This event, however, was a miracle because they had been fishing all night and had not caught a thing. But when Jesus told where to put their net, it immediately became full.

The Miracle of the Coin in the Mouth of the Fish

Another natural event, that is a miracle of timing, is the episode of the coin found in the mouth of the fish to pay the temple tax. Jesus told Peter to do the following:

“However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” (Matthew 17:27 NRSV)

Again, the miracle is not in the event itself, but rather in the timing of the event.

The Miracle of the Pigs Running into the Sea

The account of the pigs running into the sea could also be considered a natural event. Matthew records it this way:

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. (Matthew 8:32 NKJV)

It is possible for a herd of pigs to rush into the sea and drown because of some natural cause, or causes. However, this herd did so immediately after the command of Jesus.

The Servant Healed at a Distance by Jesus

John’s gospel tells us of Jesus healing a man’s son at a distance. The account reads as follows:

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. (John 4:50-53 NASB)

We have another example of a miracle of timing. The fact that the fever broke was not miraculous in-and-of itself. The miracle is that it broke at the exact time Jesus told the man that his son was healed.

The Earthquake At Jesus’ Death

The Bible says that an earthquake occurred at Jesus’ death. Matthew writes,

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split... (Matthew 27:50-51 NKJV)

The miracle is that the timing of the earthquake coincided with Jesus’ death.

Events like these are not contrary to the laws of science; nonetheless, they are miracles of timing and place. Other New Testament events that could fall into this category include the cessation of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and the withering of the fig tree. They are natural events that were supernaturally timed to show Jesus’ authority.

The Old Testament Contains These Types of Miracles

These types of miraculous events occurred in the Old Testament as well. Some of them include: Elijah being fed by the ravens, the storm stopping the moment Jonah hit the water, and the rivers of the Jordan rolling back when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land. Again, we have natural events that are miracles due to their timing.

There Are Events That Are beyond Natural Law: The Purely Supernatural

The Bible also speaks of a second type of miracle performed by God. This kind of miracle cannot be explained in terms of normal cause and effect.

Jesus Walking on Water – There Is No Natural Explanation Possible

Jesus walking on the water is an example of this type of totally supernatural miracle. Matthew writes,

About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water. (Matthew 14:25 NLT)

The normal laws of science cannot explain this miracle because it is physically impossible for people to walk on water.

The Miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand

Another example of this kind of miracle is Jesus feeding the five thousand. When a multitude of people who had followed Jesus became hungry, Jesus took the food that was available—five loaves and two fish—and He miraculously turned it into enough food to feed the great crowd. The Bible says,

They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, twelve baskets full. Not counting women and children, there were about five thousand men who ate. (Matthew 14:20, 21 NET)

Not only did everyone eat, they all were satisfied. The disciples then gathered twelve baskets full of leftovers from the miracle. The normal laws of cause and effect cannot explain this event.

The Raising of Lazarus Who Was Dead for Four Days

Another example of a miracle that is purely supernatural is the raising of Lazarus. Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus brought him back to life. Scripture says,

“Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, said, “Lord, by now the smell will be terrible because he has been dead for four days.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you will see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus came out, bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (John 11:39-44 NLT)

In the life of Jesus we see both of these types of miracles performed. The miracles were either unusual events that occurred at God’s precise timing, or events beyond the normal laws of nature and science. In either case, the miracles are convincing evidence of God’s great power and His control over the laws He established when He created the entire universe.

The Purpose of Jesus’ Miracles

What was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles? The word, translated miracle, can also mean, “sign.” The Apostle John testified why he recorded Jesus’ miracles:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30, 31 NRSV)

The miracles were done as a testimony to the identity of Jesus—that He was the promised Messiah. They were meant to create belief in Him. These signs that Jesus performed convinced many that He was the Messiah. John wrote,

When he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. (John 2:23 NRSV)

The signs Jesus performed convinced many people that He was the Christ.

Some Doubted Jesus’ Miracles

Yet even with all these miraculous signs, there were some who doubted. When Jesus was speaking to the multitude, He said,

“Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” (John 12:28, 29 NRSV)

Though it was the voice of the Father who spoke, many believed they only heard thunder:

After Jesus’ resurrection there were still some who did not believe. Matthew writes,

When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them still doubted! (Matthew 28:17 NLT)

Therefore, the miracles of the New Testament were performed as signs to testify to Jesus’ identity. And although the signs convinced many, there were still some who doubted.

Part 2 – The Evidence for Jesus’ Miracles

Since the time of Christ, there have been many people who have denied His miracles. For whatever reason, they have not believed the New Testament’s account of His supernatural works. The people in Jesus’ day, however, had a chance to witness firsthand whether or not Jesus performed miraculous deeds. They had a lot to say on the matter.

Jesus Did a Sufficient Number of Miracles

First, the number of miracles Jesus performed was sufficient for honest inquirers to believe in them. The four gospels record Jesus performing about thirty-five separate miracles. Most of the miracles that Jesus performed are recorded in more than one gospel. Two of His miracles, the feeding of the five thousand and the resurrection, are found in all four gospels.

Jesus Did Many More Miracles than Are Recorded in the Gospels

In addition, each gospel writer says that Jesus performed many more miracles than they recorded. Matthew wrote,

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 NRSV)

Mark wrote,

Wherever He entered into villages, cities, or in the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well. (Mark 6:56 NKJV)

Luke stated it this way:

The whole crowd was trying to touch Him, because power was coming out from Him and healing them all. (Luke 6:19 HCSB)

John declared the following:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. (John 20:30 KJV)

The vast number of miracles in which Jesus performed demonstrates that they were a regular part of His ministry.

There Was a Sufficient Variety of Jesus’ Miracles

The miracles of Jesus were also of a sufficient variety to show that He had supernatural power. Of the specific miracles recorded in the four gospels, we find: seventeen were bodily cures, six were healing of demonic possession, nine were miracles of nature, and there were three occasions where He raised someone from the dead.

Of the seventeen specific healing miracles that are recorded, there is a variety of different illnesses that Jesus healed. These include: leprosy, paralysis, fever, shriveled limbs, an amputated ear, blindness, deafness, muteness, and blood hemorrhaging.

He Has Ultimate Authority

Jesus also had the authority over life and death. The Bible records three specific cases of Jesus resurrecting someone from the dead: Jairus’ daughter who had just died (Matthew 9:18-26); the widow of Nain’s son who was in the coffin (Luke 7:11-15); and Lazarus who had been in the tomb for four days (John 11). Thus Jesus showed His control over the three stages of death—those who had just died, those who were going to be buried, and those who were already in the tomb.

His Miracles Covered All Areas of Authority

As the Son of God, Jesus exercised authority over all realms. The Gospel of Matthew, in the eighth and ninth chapter, relates many different areas over which Jesus demonstrated His authority. The point of recording these various miracles is to show that Jesus is Lord of every realm imaginable—He is Lord of all!

Jesus Healed Incurable Disease

After delivering the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus came down from the mountain and reached out to the most repulsive of people—a man with leprosy. At that time there was no known cure for the disease. Therefore, a leper was considered one of the living dead. Jesus had compassion on this particular man and healed him instantaneously. Matthew says,

And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2, 3 NKJV)

Here Jesus demonstrated authority over the realm of incurable disease.

Jesus Healed from a Distance

Jesus also had the ability to heal someone without being physically present. A centurion approached Jesus on behalf of his paralyzed servant. The centurion’s faith was such that he believed the servant would be healed if Jesus just gave the word—there was no need for His actual presence. Jesus marveled at the man’s faith. Matthew writes,

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”...Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.” (Matthew 8:10, 13 NKJV)

Jesus exhibited power to heal when He was not present; He was not even near the afflicted person. This demonstrates that He is Lord of space and time.

Jesus Is the Lord over Nature

Jesus is not only the Lord over disease; He is also the Lord over nature. A great storm arose on the Sea of Galilee covering their boat with waves:

And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:25-27 NASB)

When He calmed the storm, Jesus displayed authority over nature—the realm of the visible world.

Jesus Is the Lord over the Supernatural Realm

Jesus also had authority over the supernatural realm. Jesus met two demon-possessed men who were terrorizing the countryside. When Jesus approached they cried out. Matthew writes,

And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29 NKJV)

Jesus cast out demons into a herd of swine and the two men returned to normal. By doing this Jesus showed His authority in the area of the supernatural—the invisible realm. Therefore, in one short boat trip on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus showed His authority over both the visible and invisible realm.

Jesus Has Authority to Forgive Sins

This account is found in Matthew 9:1-8. In the episode of healing a paralyzed man at Capernaum, Jesus showed that His authority extended to the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus Has Authority over Life and Death

Furthermore, Jesus demonstrated His authority was over life and death. We read the following account:

As He was telling them these things, suddenly one of the leaders came and knelt down before Him, saying, “My daughter is near death, but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live...” When Jesus came to the leader’s house, He saw the flute players and a crowd lamenting loudly. “Leave,” He said, “because the girl isn’t dead, but sleeping.” And they started laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. (Matthew 9:18, 23-25 HCSB)

Even death was subject to His authority.

He Is Lord over the Natural and the Supernatural at the Same Time

The last miracle consists of a man who had problems in both the natural and supernatural realm. Matthew records the following event:

After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.” (Matthew 9:32-34 NRSV)

This man was demon-possessed and mute at the same time. Jesus had no problem dealing with both realms simultaneously.

Therefore, Jesus’ miracles consisted of the following:

  1. Authority over incurable disease.
  2. Being able to heal without being physically present.
  3. Authority over nature.
  4. Authority over the supernatural realm.
  5. Authority over sins.
  6. Authority over life and death.
  7. Authority over the natural and supernatural realm at the same time.

These various types of miracles prove that Jesus is Lord of all!

The Miracles Were Done Publicly

Another important fact concerning the miracles of Jesus is that they were done publicly. The Apostle Paul said,

“I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth. Indeed the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am certain that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner.” (Acts 26:25, 26 NRSV)

The facts concerning the miracles of Christ were obviously well-known. If not, Paul could not make such a statement.

Everyone Knew Jesus Worked Miracles

When Jesus rose on Easter Sunday He walked, unrecognized, with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. When Jesus asked them what they were talking about, He received the following response:

Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” (Luke 24:18 NKJV)

Cleopas could not believe that this stranger would even ask the question. There is only one subject that everyone was talking about—Jesus. This clearly demonstrates that the ministry of Jesus was known to everyone.

The Miracles Were Done in a Strategic Location

Furthermore, the land of Israel was a strategic place in the Roman Empire; it was in the middle of great crossroads. A large amount of travel occurred through the Holy Land. This is the spot where Jesus performed His miraculous deeds, not on some barren fringe of the empire where no one could observe them. He performed His miracles where the maximum number of people could see for themselves if they were genuine supernatural events.

The Miracles Were Performed before Large Crowds

When Jesus performed His miracles, it was often done in the presence of the crowds. Some passages emphasize that multitudes and even entire cities saw the miracles of Jesus (Matthew 15:30, 31; 19:1, 2; Mark 1:32-34; 6:53-56; Luke 6:17-19).

There Was No Special Place Where Jesus Did His Miracles

The ability of Jesus to perform miracles went with Him wherever He went. Whether it be on the Sea of Galilee, in the city of Jerusalem, or in the town of Jericho, the miracle power went with Him. There was no staging area where Jesus brought those who needed healing. Consequently, there was no way in which His followers could control the event or the outcome.

There Was No Special Time When Jesus Performed Miracles

His miraculous deeds were performed at all times of the day—morning, noon, and night and all seasons of the year—fall, winter, spring, and summer There was nothing hindering the miracle power of Jesus. We find Jesus walking on the water in the early morning, healing the servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane at night, and healing the infirmed in the temple during the day.

Jesus Performed Miracles in front of Gentiles as Well as Jews

The miracles of Jesus were not limited to His countrymen the Jews, we also find Jesus doing miracles for Gentiles as well (Mark 7:24-30; John 4:46-53).

Jesus Worked Miracles without Props

Jesus’ miracles were performed without any props. There were no devices that helped Him when He performed His miraculous deeds. He spoke and then the miracle occurred.

His Miracles Were Done with Restraint

Whenever Jesus performed a miracle, it was always done for a specific purpose. The miracles were performed for two basic reasons—as signs to testify to God’s existence and power, or to meet a specific need. They were never performed as a sideshow or to merely attract attention.

For example, when Jesus was being tempted by the devil, He refused to use His miraculous powers to show off. The devil wanted Jesus to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple and let the angels miraculously save Him, but Jesus would not stoop to this type of supernatural sideshow.

Jesus Did Only Beneficial Miracles toward Humans

With only two exceptions, the cursing of the fig tree and the demons sent into swine, the miracles of Jesus were curative in nature. Every miracle that involved humans was beneficial—never destructive. They were done to help people, not to curse His enemies. When two of Jesus’ disciples wanted Him to destroy a Samaritan village by fire, they were rebuked. The Bible says,

When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. (Luke 9:54, 55 NRSV)

The miraculous power of Jesus was never done vindictively or in reaction to what someone said or did.

The Miracles Were Not for His Own Advantage

In addition, Jesus’ miracles were not done in His own interest but in the interest of others. For example, He would not turn stones into bread for Himself to eat, but He multiplied the fish and bread for the five thousand when they were hungry.

When Peter tried to stop Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane, Jesus corrected His well-intentioned sword play. He also told Peter that it was well within His capability to perform a miracle if necessary:

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52, 53 NRSV)

Jesus certainly had the ability to stop His arrest if He so desired.

Jesus’ Miracles Met Real Human Needs

Jesus performed miracles to meet real human needs, not to draw a crowd. For example, when people were in a desert place and needed food, Jesus miraculously provided the food. The miracle met the particular need of the people at that time.

His Miracles Were in Contrast to the Miracles in the Apocryphal Gospels

After the New Testament was completed, a number of accounts about the life of Jesus were composed. Some of these filled in the gaps of Jesus’ missing years. When they are read in comparison to the four gospels, the differences become immediately obvious. One of these stories has Jesus making birds out of clay and then making them fly. Another account of the boyhood of Jesus has Him turning the shell of a snail on the Sea of Galilee into the size of Mt. Tabor! Then suddenly the snail went back to its original form. Some of these later stories paint Jesus as vindictive—one who uses His miraculous power to turn His friends into stones or animals.

In contrast, the four gospels never contain any of this type of nonsensical material. Thus we never find the type of miracles that are grotesque or childish. Nothing in the miracles of Jesus leads us to think of the absurd or the bizarre.

His Miracles Were Done with Great Ease
The miracles of Jesus were performed without ceremony or ostentatious behavior—they were done with great ease. There was no strain on Jesus’ behalf to bring forth the miracle. He simply spoke and it was done. In almost all of the cases, the miracles occurred immediately after His simple word or gesture. They were so much a part of His ministry that He could easily move into the area of the miraculous without going through any outward display.

The Miracles of Jesus Were Recorded by Eyewitnesses

We will emphasize again that the accounts given to us in the four Gospels are from eyewitnesses. The writers Matthew and John were observers of the miracles and reported what they saw occur. Mark and Luke recorded the eyewitness testimony that was reported to them. Therefore, the miracles of Jesus are well substantiated by people who were there. John the evangelist wrote,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life... (1 John 1:1 NKJV)

The miracles were well-attested.

The Reaction to Jesus’ Miracles Is What We Would Expect

Our next point is extremely important! If the miracles occurred as reported, the reaction to Jesus’ miracles from those who observed them is exactly what we would expect. Those who witnessed the miracles of Jesus were not gullible people expecting miraculous deeds. It must be recognized that the people living at the time of Jesus were as skeptical of the miraculous as modern humanity. One need only look at the responses by the people to the miracles of Jesus to see that this is the case.

His Disciples Were the First Unbelievers of His Resurrection

For example, the disciples were the first unbelievers of Jesus’ resurrection. When certain women returned from the tomb and told them Jesus had risen. His disciples responded as follows:

...but the story sounded like nonsense, so they didn’t believe it. (Luke 24:11 NLT)

When Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth, the response was amazement. The crowd said,

Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. (John 9:32 NRSV)

They were not used to seeing something like this. The deed was something extraordinary to them.

No One Had Ever Had Seen Anything Similar

On another occasion, Jesus healed a man who had been lame. When He performed this miracle the people reacted as we would expect anyone to act who witnessed a similar thing. Mark records the following:

Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12 NKJV)

On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus performed another miracle like no one had ever seen. Luke records the event:

On the way across, Jesus lay down for a nap, and while he was sleeping the wind began to rise. A fierce storm developed that threatened to swamp them, and they were in real danger. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” So Jesus rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” And they were filled with awe and amazement. They said to one another, “Who is this man, that even the winds and waves obey him?” (Luke 8:23-25 NLT)

These accounts illustrate that first-century humanity was just as amazed and puzzled as modern human beings would be when it comes to viewing the miraculous first hand.

His Miracles Were Never Denied

But we see that these same people, even though they were not used to seeing miracles, could not deny these deeds. The religious rulers, who were enemies of Jesus, sought to discredit Him. Instead of denying His miracles, they attributed them to the power of the devil. Matthew writes,

Then some people brought Jesus a man possessed by a demon. The demon made the man blind and unable to talk. Jesus cured him so that he could talk and see. The crowds were all amazed and said, “Can this man be the Son of David?” When the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man can force demons out of people only with the help of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.” (Matthew 12:22-24 God’s Word)

The religious leaders, by arguing that Christ’s miracles were a work of Satan, were acknowledging the fact that Jesus was a miracle worker. If they could have denied them, they would have.

However, the lack of denial on their part, from an unfriendly source, shows that the miracles attributed to Jesus did indeed occur.

Everyone Knew That Jesus Performed Miracles

On the Day of Pentecost, after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Simon Peter, in testifying to Christ’s resurrection, appealed to the knowledge of his hearers. He said the following to the crowd that had gathered:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know...” (Acts 2:22 NKJV)

He stated to that large audience that the miracles of Jesus were something that they themselves knew about. The fact that Peter was not immediately shouted down by the crowd demonstrates that the people knew he was telling the truth.

Multitudes had seen Jesus perform many miracles. The certainty that Jesus performed miracles was never in question. The question was, “How did He do it?”

All Reports Agree That Jesus Did Miracles

Another important point is this: for the first five centuries of the Christian era, every account of Jesus, whether coming from a believer or a non-believer, has Jesus performing miracles. No friend or foe, in the early centuries, ever denied His miraculous power.

The Testimony about Jesus Miracles Is from a Number of Different Groups

The testimony of Christ’s miracles comes from several different groups of witnesses. They include the following.

Those Who Benefited from the Miracles Gave Testimony

The first group that gives testimony are those who directly benefited from Jesus’ deeds. They give first-hand testimony with respect to what Jesus did for them.

Those Who Observed the Miracles Gave Their Testimony

Next, we have those who were not direct beneficiaries of the miracles but who saw them occur. This would include Jesus’ disciples.

Those Who Were Unbelievers and Skeptics Testified to Jesus’ Miracles

Not only were the miracles of Jesus done publicly with the multitudes present, they were also performed in front of unbelievers. Among those who watched Jesus perform healings were the unbelieving religious leaders (Matthew 12). They were there to find fault, not to believe. Jesus, therefore, was not just preaching to the converted.

Miracles Were an Essential Part of His Ministry

Miracles were not something that was an afterthought in the ministry of Jesus. They are interlocked with everything that He said or did. Certain teachings of Jesus would be meaningless without the miracle connected to it. For example, the discourse in John’s gospel about Jesus being the bread of life makes no sense whatsoever without the miracle that explains it. Apart from the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, this discourse is unexplainable (John 5, 6).

There Is Circumstantial Evidence for Jesus’ Miracles

Apart from the four gospels, we also have circumstantial evidence for the miracles of Jesus that is found elsewhere in the New Testament.

The Book of Acts Gives Testimony to Jesus’ Miracles

We find that the Book of Acts testifies to His miraculous deeds. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter said,

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know...” (Acts 2:22 NKJV)

Peter said that the crowd themselves were aware that Jesus had performed miracles.

Paul Emphasized Jesus’ Resurrection

The Apostle Paul emphasized that the miracle of the resurrection proved Jesus was whom He claimed to be. He wrote to the Romans,

This letter is from Paul, Jesus Christ’s slave, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. This Good News was promised long ago by God through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. It is the Good News about his Son, Jesus, who came as a man, born into King David’s royal family line. And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 1:1-4 NLT)

The resurrection shows Jesus to be the One whom He claimed to be.

The Apostles Had the Power to Work Miracles

In addition, His miracle power was also given to His apostles. The Book of Acts records some of their miracles done through the authority of Jesus. When Peter saw a lame man at the temple he said,

“I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, stand up and walk!” Then Peter took hold of him by the right hand and raised him up, and at once the man’s feet and ankles were made strong. He jumped up, stood and began walking around, and he entered the temple courts with them, walking and leaping and praising God. (Acts 3:6-8 NET)

After Peter healed this man, the religious leaders made the following admission:

“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny they have done a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it.” (Acts 4:16 NLT)

Even the miracles of the apostles were undeniable.

Summary

To sum up we can say the following about Jesus miracles:

  1. There were a sufficient number of them.
  2. They were of a sufficient variety.
  3. They covered all possible areas of authority.
  4. They were done publicly.
  5. They were done in a strategic location.
  6. They were performed before large crowds.
  7. There was no special place in which the miracles occurred.
  8. There was no special time when they were performed.
  9. They were performed in front of Gentiles as well as Jews.
  10. They were done without props.
  11. They were done with restraint.
  12. The miracles were beneficial to humanity.
  13. They were not done for Jesus’ own advantage.
  14. They met real needs.
  15. They are in contrast to the miracles in the apocryphal gospels.
  16. They were done with great ease.
  17. They were recorded by eyewitnesses.
  18. Those who observed them had same reaction as we would have.
  19. The miracles of Jesus were never denied by His contemporaries.
  20. There was sufficient testimony to them by believers and unbelievers alike.
  21. His miracles were an essential part of His ministry.
  22. There is also circumstantial evidence that Jesus performed miracles.

We conclude that the reports of Jesus’ miracles, as contained in the New Testament, are accurate; Jesus was indeed a miracle worker!

Part 3 – Objections to the Miracles of Jesus

Historically, there have been many objections to Jesus’ miracles. They include the following.

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 something which is impossible. End of discussion.

Of course, the problem with that position is that only God could know whether miracles are possible or not. Only someone with all knowledge of every event that has ever taken place would be able to deny miracles had ever occurred. Therefore, the denial of the possibility of miracles is something beyond the ability of humans.

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 reason the existence of the platypus was doubted had nothing to do with the evidence—for the evidence, strange as it was, 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 scientists came around to believe the platypus did exist with all its bizarre characteristics.

It Is the Same Misconception with Respect to Miracles

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.

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

It is alleged that since the miracles recorded in Scripture occurred from two thousand to four thousand years ago they should not be believed. Supposedly they took place before the age of modern science when people were ignorant about the way the universe functioned.

Granted, the miracles were recorded before modern times, yet the testimony to their truthfulness remains. The eyewitnesses were just as skeptical as modern humankind and their reaction to the miraculous was the same as ours would have been if we had seen the same events.

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?

Many Miracles Are Beyond Natural Explanation

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 Jesus healed a man who was a deaf mute (Mark 7:31-37).

It stretches beyond the bounds of imagination to think that 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. 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 They 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. In answering this objection, we first note that it ignores the fact that miracles are found in clusters in Scripture, not on every page. But even if they were found everywhere in Scripture the answer is, “So what?” The issue is, “Did they happen as the eyewitnesses testify?” This is the real issue.

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, why should we believe the biblical account of miracles?

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.

Objection 6: There Are Contradictions between the Accounts

Often it is alleged that the biblical accounts of the miraculous are so hopelessly contradictory that they should not be believed. Yet this is not the case. The fact that there are minor differences in detail between the accounts only shows that they are independent of one another. There is agreement between them on the major points.

Objection 7: There Are 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 biblical miracles believed? Three things should be considered when answering this question.

There Are Not That Many Miracle Reports in Other Religions

First, there are not as many miracles in the world religions as some people assume. Miracles are very rare in the accounts of the major religions of the world. The exception, of course, is the biblical account, where miracles are an important part of the message.

The Miracles in Other Religions 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. For example, almost all the miracles that are attributed to Muhammad in the Koran occurred in private where there was no way either to prove or disprove the testimony.

There Is No Real Purpose for the Miracles in Non-Christian Religions

The miracles attributed to 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. The so-called miracles of other religions do not touch humanity at its basic needs as do the miracles recorded in the Bible. This, and the lack of corroborative testimony to their actually occurring, causes them to be rejected.

Objection 8: The Miracles Were Recorded Long after the Fact

Often it is objected that the miracles of the New Testament were written long after the events transpired. Supposedly this makes them untrue. Again, as we have seen, those who were actually there recorded the miracles in Scripture—they were eyewitnesses to the events. Their accounts did not grow larger and larger with time.

If God Exists, Then Miracles Are Possible

Our last point about miracles is an obvious one. If an all-powerful God truly exists, then miracles are possible. He would have the ability to perform miraculous deeds if He so chooses. Therefore, the idea that the God of Scripture, who claims to be the only God who exists, would perform miracles to testify to His existence and power, is certainly something that is reasonable.

Summary to the Miracles of Jesus Christ

All of the evidence points to the fact that Jesus Christ did indeed work miracles. Both believers and unbelievers testified this to. No one doubted His ability to perform supernatural deeds. The question asked of 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.

Therefore, miracles are a strong line of evidence to support Jesus’ claims but they are not the only line of evidence. Next we will move on to an even stronger line of evidence—fulfilled prophecy.

The Claims of Jesus Christ Considered ← Prior Section
Predictive Prophecy Next Section →
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