The Miracles of Jesus
Introduction: Jesus said, " for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (Jn. 8: 24). How do we know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God? (Matt. 16: 13, 14-17.) One way to establish Jesus' Sonship (his deity) is by the miracles Jesus performed. One common word translated miracle (dunamis) is the source for our English word dynamite. Hence, a miracle is dynamic, we would say in English. New Testament miracles were call "signs" (semeion) because they verified and confirmed (Acts 2: 43, Heb. 2: 4) and "wonders" (teras) because they made the observers marvel (Acts 2: 43, 7, 8). To avoid a lengthy dissertation regarding the nature and essential components of what constitutes a biblical miracle, allow me to simply suggest the following: A miracle is, first of all, a happening which involved the suspension or relaxing of the applicable physical and/or natural laws and the enacting of supernatural forces. Bible miracles sometimes involved the supernatural acceleration of natural laws (e.g. water to wine, Jn. 2). Tomas Aquinas is attributed with having introduced the view that miracles are simply "outside of nature by producing the effects of secondary causes without them." Some miracles not only involved being outside or above nature, but were actually contrary to nature. Hence, Augustine's teaching, as I understand it, that biblical miracles did not conflict with nature appears faulty. Jesus' walking on water was certainly above the relevant natural laws (Matt. 14: 22-33). It also entailed the suspension of the law of gravity. However, in addition to these basic elements, this miracle was against nature in that some rudimental laws of physics were violated. Some believe the greatest miracle Jesus performed was in feeding the five thousand. This miracle obviously involved Jesus' creative abilities (Mk. 6: 37-44, cf. Col. 1: 16).
Some of Jesus' miracles incorporated the natural. Jesus' birth was miraculous in that he was born of a virgin. However, the development and birth by his mother Mary was natural (Matt. 1: 20, 23). In this study, though, we shall basically be using the term miracle in its simple usage of " works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means" (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
I. Jesus' life was characterized by undeniable miracles
A. He was born of a virgin, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven (Matt. 1: 23, Matt. 28: 6, Acts 1: 9, 10).
B. We must realize, though, the Bible recognizes the existence of false miracles. These are called "lying wonders" (2 Thes. 2: 9, 10). False religion does not possess the truth (God's word), therefore, they often attempt to convince people through deception, calling it a miracle (Rev. 13: 14, cp. Acts 17: 2, 3).
II. The nature of Jesus' miracles
A. Not only does an understanding of Jesus' miracles produce the belief that Jesus is the Son of God but such understanding also helps us detect and avoid pseudo miracles.
A. Jesus had power over nature. Jesus exhibited power over nature when he turned water into wine, calmed the tempest, and walked on the sea (Jn. 2: 1-11; Mk. 4: 35-41; 6: 47-50).
B. Demonstrations of his power over the demon world. Jesus cured a demoniac (demon possessed person, Mk. 1: 23-27). He challenged and cured a violent demoniac and a demon possessed person who was both blind and dumb (Mk. 5: 1-13, Matt. 12: 22, 23).
C. Jesus displayed miraculous power over the material realm. Jesus manifestly displayed miraculous ability over the material in the feeding of the five thousand (Mk. 6: 37-44).
D. Jesus was triumphant over physical diseases and infirmities. Jesus healed the mother of Peter's wife of a physical abnormality (Mk. 1: 30, 31). Jesus healed "every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matt. 9: 35). He even restored sight to the blind (Matt. 9: 27-31).
E. Jesus demonstrated his power over death. Jesus raised Jairus' daughter, the widow's son, and Lazarus from the dead (Mk. 5: 22-24; 35-43; Lk. 7: 11-17; Jn. 11: 34-46).
III. Jesus promised his apostles that they would be able to perform miracles
A. "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils ," Jesus said (Matt. 10: 8). Compared to Jesus' miraculous ability, however, their powers were limited (Jesus had unlimited ability, the apostles had the baptismal measure, Jn. 3: 34, Acts 1: 5-8, ch. 2). I might also inject, that the miracle working ability characteristic of many in the First Century was of limited purpose and duration (Heb. 2: 4, I Cor. 13: 8-10).
IV. The purpose of Jesus' miracles
A. Jesus' miracles were not performed in a failed attempt to remove all sickness from the world, as some believe.
a. The miracles of Jesus established his authority to forgive sin (Matt. 9: 6). His miracles proved Jesus was sent of God (Jn. 5: 36). "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doeth, except God be with him," Nicodemus declared (Jn. 3: 1, 2).
b. In healing the sick, Jesus also fulfilled prophecy (Matt. 8: 16, 17, cp. Isa. 53: 4).
V. Some characteristics, positive and negative, of Jesus' miracles
A. There are certain characteristics of Jesus' miracle that are obvious.
a. There were no failures with Jesus (Matt. 8: 16).
b. Jesus' miracles were not necessarily conditioned on man's faith (Mk. 9: 14-29, Lk. 22: 50, 51, Jn. 11: 34-46).
c. Jesus did not take up contributions. His miracles, the reality and fact of them, were never questioned, not even by his enemies (Jn. 11: 47, Matt. 12: 23, 24). The reason they were never questioned is because they could not be challenged; they were so evidently genuine (Jn. 11: 47, 9: 16).
d. There is not one recorded instance of a relapse.
e. Another obvious fact, compared to the pseudo miracle climate of today, is Jesus did not evoke a propaganda campaign or send runners ahead to create the necessary emotional environment. Jesus healed completely and instantaneously (the only "exception" is found in Mark 8: 22-26).
f. Moreover, Jesus healed all manner of diseases (Matt. 9: 35).
Conclusion: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (Jn. 20: 30, 31).