DID JESUS REALLY PERFORM MIRACLES?
The Old Testament contains many miracles. People often deny them, looking for other explanations for how the events took place. If the miracles weren’t true, then the Bible is full of lies and errors and can’t be believed for other miracles, especially Jesus’s miracles and resurrection.
Miracles were an important part of Jesus’s ministry on earth as well. Those in Jesus’s day could watch the miracle take place, but how can we today know Jesus really performed miracles?
PROOF FROM THE BIBLE The Old Testament records 55 miracles, the Gospels describe during the life of Jesus 37 miracles and the rest of the New Testament tells of 20. That is a total of 112 separate miracles.
A miracle is not a coincidence of natural happenings. It’s not magic. It is overriding natural laws by a higher law. Jesus called them “signs” (John 20:31-32). We realize they were done for a purpose – to prove that Jesus was God (Matthew 11:4-6; Luke 7:22-23; John 10:25, 38; 14:11; 15:24).
The focus was not the miracle itself but what it taught about Jesus. If He had power over physical ills, He can also heal spiritual ills. If He could deliver from demons, He can deliver from sin. If He could give physical sight, He can give spiritual sight. If He could feed with physical bread, He can feed with spiritual bread. If He could bring the physically dead back to life, He can do the same with the spiritually dead. If He could stop a storm on an ocean, He can stop Satan’s attacks against us. When we are helpless, He can deliver us.
There are four major times of miracles in history. The first was during the time of Moses and Joshua, the second during Elijah and Elisha’s time, the third during the time of Jesus and the disciples, and the fourth will be during the coming Tribulation time. In each case, God is authenticating His chosen messengers and showing everyone that His messenger has His power and authority.
The Bible records many times that Jesus did miracles (Matthew 4:24; 21:14; 12:15; 15:30; John 10:24-25, 30-31; 3:2). Of course, the resurrection is the most outstanding miracle ever. John 11 talks about the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Many details are given, and the clear identity of the person and location are stated. Many were there and saw it happen. Afterwards, anyone who wanted to check the truthfulness of the account could easily find the place and eyewitnesses to talk to, as well as Lazarus himself!
Bible writers considered miracles as authentic occurrences and evidence of Christ’s divinity. They considered Him to be from God (John 3:2; 20:30-31; Acts 2:22) and said they were convincing proofs of Jesus’s deity (Acts 1:3; Hebrews 2:3-4) and not made-up myths (1 Peter 1:16).
There was no single pattern to Jesus’s healing miracles: some asked to be healed, others didn’t; some had faith, others didn’t even know who Jesus was. Whatever the illness, whatever the need – Jesus met it. He had total control over nature: calming the sea, cursing a fig tree, turning water to wine, catching many fish when there weren’t any there a moment before – all these were done by Jesus with just a word. Miracles were a means to an end, not an end in themselves. That’s why not every sick person in Palestine was healed. Healing everyone wasn’t Jesus’s purpose.
Satan can do miracles, too. He can counterfeit God’s power with shows of his own (Matthew 7:22-23). His power is limited by God, however. He can’t stop Jesus’s power. Jannes and Jambres counterfeited and challenged Moses, but lost to God’s power (Exodus 7:10-12).
PROOF FROM REASON Some say those Jesus healed only had psychosomatic illness. But thousands and thousands came and were healed – and stayed healed. Those who knew them knew the illnesses were real, for they were amazed at the change. Plus, He healed every single one He said He would heal; there were none where He failed.
Doing miracles wasn’t something people expected the coming Messiah to do, so the gospel writers wouldn’t have felt the need to invent miracles to convince their readers that Jesus was the Messiah. If they had, it is doubtful they would have been willing to give up everything, even their own lives, to follow Him.
Miracles are God’s intervention in nature. If God exists, miracles are possible, even probable. To say they can’t exist is to deny the existence of God. If God could create the universe out of nothing, His other miracles would be easy for Him.
PROOF FROM OTHER WRITERS We have seen what ancient writers have recorded about Jesus . They give more support for His miracles:
THALLUS, an ancient writer and historian, recorded the darkness over the whole earth at the time of Jesus’s crucifixion. The only way he could explain it was to say it was an eclipse, but modern science can determine when they have occurred in the past, and there were none during that time in history.
THE TALMUD tells the story of a rabbi (Rabbi Eleazar ben Dama) who was bitten by a venomous snake and called on a Christian named Jacob of Kephar Sama to heal him. He arrived, but Rabbi Ishmael would not permit it. Rabbi Ben Dama replied, “I will bring you proof (from the scriptures) that he may heal me!” but then died before he could produce the proof. He believed a Christian could heal him by Jesus’s power. (Tosefta, Hullin 2:22-23).
ANCIENT PAGAN SPELLS often contain the name of Jesus because clearly, the pagans thought there was power in that name to heal.
JULIAN THE APOSTATE was the Roman Emperor from AD 361-363. He was a strong enemy of Christianity. He wrote: “Jesus . . . has now been honored for about three hundred years; having done nothing throughout his lifetime that was worthy of fame, unless anyone thinks it a very great work to heal the lame and the blind and to cast out demons in the towns of Bethsaida and Bethany.” This shows how common the knowledge was that Jesus performed miracles in those areas, as recorded in the Bible (Mark 8:22; John 12:1).
Yet, despite this great amount of proof that Jesus performed miracles, many people deny it. How can they do so? Those who don’t believe in Jesus have preconceived prejudices against anything supernatural. If they believe anything supernatural exists, then that opens the door to God existing, and with that belief comes accountability to Him. Holding to their belief there is no God, they reject any form of supernatural. Yet we have provided much evidence that God exists, as do miracles.
Acts 2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. … Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.”
What proof would you give someone who asked if Jesus really did miracles?
What difference would it make if they were fakes or just made up by the gospel writers?
What miracles have you experienced in your life?
Pray and thank God for them, and thank Him for being a miracle-making God!
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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