The Miracles of Jesus
A six year old boy came home from church all excited and his father asks why. He replies that he learned the story of Passover. He relates: “Moses was about to take the Jews out of Egypt when suddenly the Israeli air-force appeared with their thundering jets, and bombed Egypt. The Egyptian forces sent out their helicopters and the Israeli air-force shot them down, whereupon Moses crossed the ocean.” The father, amazed at the story, incredulously asks his son: “Is this the story that they taught you in Bible class?” The boy replies, “Nope, but if I would tell you the real story, you wouldn’t believe me.”
To produce belief, the Bible often has used the unbelievable miracles by the power of God. In fact, faith in Christ Jesus is based on the miracles He and God the Father performed during His earthly ministry.
Definition of a Miracle
The naturalist and skeptics of the Word of God often redefine what the Bible really identifies as a miracle. Often every day use of the term is far different from the events portrayed in the Scriptures.
We speak of the latest computer triumph as a “technological miracle.” The latest advancement in medicine is referred to as a “miracle drug” or a “miraculous breakthrough.” A Wall Street stock may have a miraculous rate of growth overnight. However, these are really normal events in life that amaze. When passengers walk away from a terrible accident someone will say, “it was a miracle that he was not killed.” Incidents beyond the pale of everyday life are unusual but by no means supernatural.
When miracles are called a supernatural event, some think of them as being no more than primitive or unscientific. Roland H Worth, Jr., wrote: “Since our minds are finite and God’s infinite, there is no way that we will ever have the full mastery of the natural laws of this universe in the sense and to the degree that he does.” Therefore some conclude that the miracles of yesterday can be achieved with the science and technology of today. Yet science will never perform “miracles” in the sense that the Bible uses the term.
An exact definition of a miracle can be elusive. A true miracle is the result of an interjection of God’s power to produce a specific result. A supernatural event resulting from supernatural power. A miracle is “an event…that apparently contradicts known scientific laws and is hence thought to be due to supernatural causes, especially to an act of God” (Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary, Unabridged). It is “A wonderful happening that is above, against, or independent of the known laws of nature” (Thorndike Barnhart Junior Dictionary.) Herbert Lockyer wrote, “What is a miracle? A miracle has been defined as a work wrought by a divine power for a divine purpose by means beyond the read of man.” Perhaps the best definition is the one by Gene Taylor: “a miracle is an event in the external world wrought by the immediate power of God and intended as a sign or attestation.”
Descriptive Terms for Miracles
There are three words used in the New Testament to describe the miracles Jesus. All three are found in Acts 2:22: “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.” Also see 2 Cor. 12:12; 2 Th. 2:9.
- Miracles or Mighty Works
The term “miracles” could be translated “mighty works.” It comes from the Greek word dunamis. The English word dynamite is derived from it. It is indicating works of supernatural origin. Or, an event which requires the supernatural power of God. This word describes God’s role.
From the Greek term terata is translated “wonders” in English. It carries with it the idea of astonishment. Following His miracle of walking upon the water when Jesus “went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled” (Mark 6:51; 2:12; 4:41; 7:37). This term describes man’s reaction.
The term “signs” is translated from the Greek term semeion. Philip Yancey writes that a “sign is not the same thing as proof; a sign is merely a marker for someone who is looking in the right direction.” The miracles point us in the direction of Jesus as the Son of God. Are we paying attention to the signs? A sign describes the motive or objective of the supernatural event.
Other terms used to describe a miracle in the Bible are: “mighty works” (Matt. 11:20; Mark 6:14; Luke 10:13); “works” (John 5:36; 7:21; 10:25,32); “great things” (Luke 1:49); “glorious things” (Luke 13:17); “strange things” (Luke 5:26); “wonderful things” (Matt. 21:15); “marvelous things” (Ps. 78:12); and “marvelous works” (Ps. 1055; Is. 29:14). The healing of the paralytic (Mark 2:1-2) was a wonder, for they who behold it for they “were all amazed.” It was a power, for the man at Christ’s word “arose, took up his bed.” It was a sign, showing Jesus’ power on earth to forgive sin.
Variety of Jesus’ Miracles
The Gospels do not contain all the miracles of Jesus they only contain samples out of the mass of miracles Jesus performed. The Gospel of John concludes with, “and there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25; also see 20:30-31). There were several passages which claim that Jesus performed many miracles on people.
▸ Matthew 4:23 – And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
▸ Matt. 4:24 – Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.
▸ Matt. 8:16 – When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,
▸ Matt. 9:35 – Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
▸ Matt. 14:14 – And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
▸ Matt. 15:30 – Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.
▸ Matt. 19:2 – And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.
▸ Matt. 21:14 – Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.
Jesus performed various types of miracles. When He stilled a storm (Matthew 8:26-27), Jesus demonstrated His power over nature. His power over material things is seen when He fed 5,000 men with a few loaves and fishes (Luke 9:10-17). Jarius’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus were raised from the dead evidencing the Son of God’s power over death (John 11:14-44). He had power over all manner of diseases (Matthew 8:16). When He cast out demons Jesus provide his authority over the spirit world (Matthew 8:16). The Johannine Jesus displays supernatural knowledge of hidden realities (Jn. 1:47-49; 2:24-25; 4:16-19; 5:62; 6:64; 70-71; 13:1; 21:6).
Jesus’ miracles were performed on a wide variety of subjects, such as, women, lepers, Samaritans, gentiles, tax-collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, children, people with withered limbs, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame, and the dead.
Unlike the so-called modern miracles of “faith healers” Jesus performed his miracles in many different places and not the controlled environment of a stage. He did them near or from a great distance, on the water and on land; in the city or in the countryside; inside or outside; etc.
The Son of God could do miracles anytime and not at scheduled times during a healing service. During the middle of the night in a storm he walked on water. Sometimes it was done in the morning or afternoon. Time and situation did not determine or deter the miracle of Jesus.
Furthermore, Jesus used a wide variety of methods in the performance of His miracles. The miracle of Bethsaida precisely shows us a man who passes form blindness to sight in two stages: a first the blind man saw “people walking like trees” and next he could see plainly.
– Daniel R. Vess