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Don Stewart :: Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

Don Stewart

Jesus Himself appealed to miracles as a testimony to His Divine character. When John the Baptist sent messengers to Jesus to ask if He were the Christ, Jesus replied as follows:

Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Matthew 11:2-5).

This would remind them of various Old Testament passages including Isaiah 35:5,6:

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.

Jesus, therefore, appealed to His miracles to back up His claims. On another occasion He also told His disciples:

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake (John 14:11).

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

1. There Were Miracles Of Timing

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. There are examples of this type of miracle in the gospels.

The Miraculous Catch Of Fish

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

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at your bidding I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break; and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink (Luke 5:4-7).

After Jesus' resurrection, John reports an incident between Jesus and several of His disciples on the Sea of Galilee.

But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, 'Children, have you any food?' They answered him, 'No.' and he said to them, 'Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish (John 21:4-6).

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 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:

But, lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and me (Matthew 17:27).

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

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, "Begone!" And they came out, and went into the swine, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters (Matthew 8:32).

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

The Servant Healed By Jesus

John's gospel tells us of Jesus healing a man's son at a distance.

Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off. And 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. They said therefore 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).

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 an earthquake occurred at Jesus' death.

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

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.

2. Events That Went Beyond Natural Law

The Bible 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

Jesus walking on the water is an example of this type of totally supernatural miracle:

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea (Matthew 14:25).

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

The 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 miraculously turned it into enough food to feed the great crowd. The Bible says:

So when they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children (Matthew 14:20,21).

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

Summary

Miracles are either unusual events that occur at a precise time or they are things that happen in a strictly supernatural way. In the life of Jesus we see both of these types of miracles performed. 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 universe.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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