The Miracles of Jesus
A MIRACLE, according to Augustine, is an event that happens in a way contrary to the “known”! processes of nature. The Encyclopædia Britannica says a miracle can be defined as “the supremacy of the spiritual forces of the world to an extraordinary degree over the mere material.” Jesus Christ, who performed marvelous miracles among men, simply called them the “powerful works” of God.—Matt. 11:21.
Jesus indeed worked miracles. He turned water into wine, cured a nobleman’s son, healed an impotent man at Beth.zátha, walked on water, made the eyes of the blind see, the dumb speak and the deaf hear. He fed multitudes with a few loaves of bread, cast out demons and raised the dead to life. But at no time did he resort to vapors, veils or mysteries of any sort to perform his powerful deeds. Sometimes he used a soft gentle voice, at other times he cried out with a loud voice, as he did when he raised Lazarus from the dead. There were occasions when he touched the sick and prayed. Often Jesus would ask: “What do you want me to do for you?” Or, “Do you have faith that I can do this?” After the healing took place, he would say: “Your faith has made you well,” or, “Your faith has saved you.”—Luke 18:41; Matt. 9:28; Luke 8:48; footnote, 1950 edition.
In the instance of a man deaf and with a speech impediment Jesus took him “away from the crowd privately and put his fingers into the man’s ears and, after spitting, he touched his tongue. And with a look up into heaven he sighed deeply and said to him: ‘Ephʹpha·tha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ Well, his hearing powers were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he began speaking normally.”—Mark 7:33-35.
On another occasion Jesus “spit on the ground and made a clay with the saliva, and put his clay upon the man’s eyes and said to him: ‘Go wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated ‘Sent forth’). And so he went off and washed, and came back seeing.”—John 9:6, 7.
The Bible says Jesus cured “every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity,” that “he expelled the spirits with a word, and he cured all who were faring badly; that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He himself took our sicknesses and carried our diseases.’”—Matt. 9:35; 8:16, 17.
Jesus did not work miracles merely to impress men with his great power. He clearly rejected the idea of becoming simply a wonder-worker. Satan the Devil tempted him to attract attention to himself in this way, but Jesus flatly refused to do so. King Herod had hoped to witness some display of Jesus’ miraculous powers, but Jesus also refused to please him. Jesus was not out to impress the credulous people who were seeking a thrill. In fact, he strongly suggested that it is reprehensible for men to seek after such signs. He said: “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign.”—Matt. 12:39; 4:3-7; Luke 23:8.
The miracles of Jesus provoked much thought throughout Israel. Many said: “When the Christ arrives, he will not perform more signs than this man has performed, will he?” “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” (John 7:31; Matt. 9:33) But those of malicious and prejudiced hearts were affected in a contrary way by his miracles. Some of the Pharisees complained: “This is not a man from God, because he does not observe the Sabbath.” “It is by the ruler of the demons that he expels the demons,” they said. (John 9:16; Matt. 9:34) But not all the people were that gullible. When Jesus healed a man who was born blind, the people remarked: “How can a man that is a sinner perform signs of that sort?” When the blind man was asked: “What do you say about him, seeing that he opened your eyes?” The man replied: “He is a prophet.” (John 9:16, 17) In Jesus’ hometown territory people asked: “Where did this man get these things? And why should this wisdom have been given this man, and such powerful works be performed through his hands? This is the carpenter the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon, is it not? And his sisters are here with us, are they not?” “So they began to stumble at him.” There was great division. In fact, after Jesus restored a man’s withered hand so that it was sound like the other hand, “the Pharisees went out and immediately began holding council with the party followers of Herod against him, in order to destroy him.”—Mark 6:2, 3; 3:6; Matt. 12:13, 14.
A SIGN FOR WHOM?
The miracles of Jesus Christ were evidence of the fact that the Messiah was in the midst of men. Jesus himself regarded them as fulfillments of the Hebrew Scripture prophecies concerning the Messiah, but, mind you, they were evidences to only those who had faith to see that the kingdom of God had indeed drawn near in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus urged the crowds to exercise faith in him as the One whom Jehovah sent forth, but many of the people refused to believe. Despite the miracles he performed, they kept on asking him: “What, then, are you performing as a sign, in order for us to see it and believe you?” They were calling for some additional supernatural performance on his part, such as leaping off the battlement of the temple, some act that would force their unbelieving, hardened hearts to believe. Jesus, however, refused to accommodate them. Miracles, therefore, became signs only to those who had the insight of faith, and to them they were only additional proof of what they already knew by faith, that is, that Jesus is the Christ.—John 6:30; Matt. 12:38.
The apostle John says: “Although [Jesus] had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled which he said: ‘Jehovah, who has put faith in the thing heard by us? And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?’ The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: ‘He has blinded their eyes and he has made their hearts hard, that they should not see with their eyes and get the thought with their hearts and turn around and I should heal them.’”—John 12:37-40.
LESSONS BEHIND THE MIRACLES
Miracles, properly regarded, assisted faith; they were added evidence that Jesus was the Christ, because God was performing powerful works through him. But miracles are also deeds of divine mercy and compassion, and their merciful and compassionate quality is an important factor. They were not meant to force belief in Jesus as the Messiah, but to quicken understanding of him as the Christ. His miracles were instruments of kindness, unsealing fountains of joy long closed. They gave emphasis to Jesus’ instruction.
In Cana of Galilee Jesus performed his first miracle. He turned one hundred to one hundred and fifty gallons of water into the best of wine. Here Jesus taught men a lesson in hospitality and demonstrated the generosity of God. Good wine grows better with age. So if the quantity was far greater than the need, it would not be wasted. This miracle also tells us that Jesus approved of fermented drinks, or else he would not have made the wine.—John 2:1-11.
It was also in Cana that a certain attendant of the king called on Jesus to heal his son who was at the point of dying in Capernaum. Jesus not only restored the child to his parent, but he sent back a more excellent father to the child. Instead of going to Capernaum with the man, Jesus said to him: “‘Go your way; your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.” The father learned later that his son was made well the instant Jesus pronounced his words, even though Jesus was some twenty-five miles away from Capernaum. Thus Jesus demonstrated that the power of God to heal through him is not bound by distance. As a result the man and “his whole household believed.”—John 4:46-53.
In Jerusalem at a pool called Beth·zátha Jesus healed a certain man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. The Jews complained that Jesus was doing these things during Sabbath. Jesus answered their charges by alluding to God’s ceaseless activity on all days alike. “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working,” he said. (John 5:17) Why should not good be done on the sabbath? Does the sun cease to shine? Do rivers stand still? Does the grass stop growing? Do not fruits ripen and birds sing? Is not God busy? Through all God’s realm the sabbath is a day of active mercy. Why, then, should not the Lord of the sabbath do works of mercy on the sabbath?
Jesus commands the fishes of the sea and they come. He walks on water and stills violent storms. He proves that he has authority, that he has “in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” He is in truth the Son of man.—Gen. 1:28; Luke 5:4-7; Mark 6:48; Matt. 8:23-27; 28:18; 8:20.
The miracles of Jesus are glowing expressions of a tender sympathy with human suffering, the flashes of light of love and compassion. They are a part of his teaching, his pledges of blessings to come in the new world in which there will be no more sorrow or death. They are ways of impressing men with the truth that Jesus is the Christ.—Rev. 21:4.
The apostle Paul writes: “Seeing, therefore, that we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold onto our confessing of him. For we have as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin. Let us, therefore, approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness, that we may obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”—Heb. 4:14-16.