A Look at Some Miracles of Jesus
WHEN you hear the term “miracle,” how do you react? Do you feel that miracles are something that persons living today cannot accept? This is a popular view.
However, the Holy Bible, accepted by hundreds of millions of persons as the inspired Word of God, relates numerous miracles effected by divine power. Outstanding among these were the miracles performed by Jesus Christ.
Can these Bible accounts of miracles that took place thousands of years ago benefit people today? A look at some of Jesus’ miracles can help us to answer this question.
MIRACLES OF HEALING
Jesus performed feats of healing unparalleled in all human history. Were these acts attended by superstitious ceremony, fiery speeches, or the taking up of money collections, as is the case with modern-day “faith healers”? Let us consider what took place during the year 33 C.E., at the time of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem:
“While he was going to Jerusalem he was passing through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he was entering into a certain village ten leprous men met him, but they stood up afar off. And they raised their voices and said: ‘Jesus, Instructor, have mercy on us!’ And when he got sight of them he said to them: ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Then as they were going off their cleansing occurred.”—Luke 17:11-14.
There is nothing fantastic in the record of this miracle. Just the simple command that the men afflicted with leprosy show themselves to the priests. Their healing took place en route, without Jesus being present. On other occasions the Son of God performed similar miracles of healing from a distance.—Matt. 8:5-13; John 4:46-54.
An unprecedented example of miraculous healing is found at John 9:1-7:
“Now as he was passing along he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him: ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, so that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered: ‘Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be made manifest in his case. . . .’ After he said these things, he 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.”
Did Jesus really heal congenital blindness? If not, this would be a perfect opportunity for the Pharisees, who were religious opposers of Jesus, to deny the whole episode and to expose him as a fraud. But did they?
The Gospel account continues: “However, the Jews did not believe concerning him that he had been blind and had gained sight, until they called the parents of the man that gained sight. And they asked them: ‘Is this your son who you say was born blind? How, then, is it he sees at present?’ Then in answer his parents said: ‘We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how it is he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know.’”—John 9:18-21.
When questioned by the Pharisees, the man who received sight replied: “This certainly is a marvel, that you do not know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes. . . . From of old it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of one born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing at all.”—John 9:30-33.
Nothing in that account bears the marks of fiction. There are no mythical details. Instead, we have mention of persons, places and conversation characteristic of Palestine during the first century C.E.
THE DEAD RETURN TO LIFE
Among all Jesus’ miracles, the most outstanding were the cases of his raising the dead. The Bible relates three resurrections that Jesus performed. The first took place at Nain in Galilee and concerned the only son of a widowed woman. We read:
“As he got near the gate of the city [of Nain], why, look! there was a dead man being carried out, the only-begotten son of his mother. Besides, she was a widow. A considerable crowd from the city was also with her. And when the Lord caught sight of her, he was moved with pity for her, and he said to her: ‘Stop weeping.’ With that he approached and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still, and he said: ‘Young man, I say to you, Get up!’ And the dead man sat up and started to speak, and he gave him to his mother.”—Luke 7:11-15.
Similarly, Jesus resurrected the daughter of Jairus, one of the presiding officers of the synagogue at Capernaum. (Matt. 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56) The most impressive resurrection that Jesus performed was that of his close friend Lazarus. The Gospel according to John describes it this way:
“When Jesus arrived, he found [Lazarus] had already been four days in the memorial tomb. . . . It was, in fact, a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said: ‘Take the stone away.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to him: ‘Lord, by now he must smell, for it is four days.’ Jesus said to her: ‘Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ Therefore they took the stone away. Now Jesus raised his eyes heavenward and said: ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me; but on account of the crowd standing around I spoke, in order that they might believe that you sent me forth.’ And when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice: ‘Lazarus, come on out!’ The man that had been dead came out with his feet and hands bound with wrappings, and his countenance was bound about with a cloth. Jesus said to them: ‘Loose him and let him go.’”—John 11:17, 38-44.
Once again the Bible account presents no magic incantations. Just the simple command: “Lazarus, come on out!” The miracles of Jesus are an integral part of the often-praised “accurate history” of the Gospel records. Still, some individuals consider it unreasonable to believe in miracles. Why do they hold that viewpoint?
MIRACLES AND YOUR EXPERIENCE
“Seeing is believing,” goes a popular saying. Some push that attitude to extremes. In certain cases they refuse to believe in what they have not personally experienced. Is it wise to reason that way?
It is important to bear in mind that our orderly, harmonious universe demands a Creator with incalculable intelligence and power. (Rom. 1:20) Would it prove too difficult for the Creator to maneuver the course of natural laws for a special purpose? Anyone who would deny this is going beyond his realm of knowledge into the area of blind speculation.
As for your experience, how far does it actually reach? During their limited lifespan, few persons have had opportunity to learn much by direct personal experience. For example, has your personal experience included direct observation of the approximately 800,000 varieties of insects that scientists have discovered? If you live in a Western land, have you visited the Orient, isles of the sea or other faraway places to observe firsthand their interesting people, peculiar customs and breathtaking scenery? Likely you have not; yet you have no difficulty believing that the insects, peoples and places exist. Why? Because in everyday matters you accept the testimony of others. Most of your knowledge has been obtained in this indirect way. Is it reasonable to reject the same type of testimony simply because it deals with miracles?
We have noted that the Bible presents the miracles of Jesus in a simple, straightforward way. Did you know that similar testimony exists in non-Biblical writings, even in some by opposers of Christianity? Consider:
Eusebius of Caesarea, in The Ecclesiastical history, provides an interesting statement by a certain Quadratus, who wrote an “apology” in behalf of Christianity to Hadrian, emperor of Rome from 117 to 138 C.E. Quadratus declares: “The works of our Saviour were always conspicuous, for they were real. Both they that were healed, and they that were raised from the dead, were seen, not only when they were healed or raised, but for a long time afterwards; not only whilst he dwelt on this earth, but also after his departure and for a good while subsequent to it: insomuch that some of them have reached to our times.”
As to the reaction of people to the miracles performed by Jesus, his twelve apostles and other Christians of the first century C.E., the publication Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity states:
“Seventy years elapsed between the commencement of the ministry of Christ and the death of the last of the apostles. During all this interval, the miraculous gifts in question were exercised. Now, as every repetition in case of imposture multiplies the dangers of detection, and every extension of time makes it the more difficult to keep up the confederated plan, it is no inconsiderable evidence of the genuineness of the miracles of the Gospel, that they continued to be wrought and inspected during a period of so many years, and yet no instance of a failure or of deception was ever discovered by those fierce and untiring enemies with whom Christianity was always surrounded.”
Regarding enemies of Christianity, T. H. Horne remarks in An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures: “In fact, both Jews and heathens were constrained to admit them [the miracles]; though they ascribed them to various causes . . . While the facts were too recent to be disputed, Celsus, Porphyry, Hierocles, Julian, and other adversaries, admitted their reality, but ascribed them to magic, and denied the divine commission of him who performed them. But to whatever cause they ascribed them, their admission of the reality of these miracles is an involuntary confession that there was something [supernatural] in them.”
Miracles served a special purpose in connection with Jesus and his disciples. God foretold that the promised Messiah would be ‘a prophet like Moses.’ (Deut. 18:15-19) Since Moses performed miracles to prove that God was backing him up, the Jews expected that the Messiah would do likewise. (Ex. 4:1-9) As a result, when persons “saw the signs [Jesus] performed, they began to say: ‘This is for a certainty the prophet that was to come into the world.’” (John 6:14) Too, the miraculous powers that the disciples of Jesus displayed made it evident that God had shifted his favor from the nation of natural Israel to the Christian congregation. (Matt. 21:43) Once this fact was well established, there was no longer a need for Christians to display miraculous powers, and such powers ceased according to divine purpose.—1 Cor. 13:8-10.
LEARNING FROM JESUS’ MIRACLES
Can persons today benefit from the accounts of Jesus’ miracles? Consider the occasion when he resurrected the son of the widow of Nain. What motivated Jesus to do this? The Gospel account states: “When the Lord caught sight of her, he was moved with pity for her.” (Luke 7:13) Jesus expressed similar compassion when he resurrected Lazarus. (John 11:33, 35, 36) What a fine quality for all to imitate in their attitude toward others.—John 13:15.
The accounts of the healing of the ten lepers and the curing of congenital blindness contain another important lesson for persons who wish to please God. The men with leprosy first had to obey Jesus’ instructions to show themselves to the priests. (Luke 17:14) And the blind man had to get on his way to wash in the pool of Siloam. (John 9:7, 11) Since neither cure took place before the fulfilling of these requirements, there was a need on the part of the sufferers to trust confidently in Jesus’ willingness and ability to heal them.
How does this affect us today? According to the Bible, Jesus’ miracles were a token in advance of benefits that he would shower upon all mankind during his earthwide reign of a thousand years. The Scriptures predict the healing of all diseases that afflict mankind during that millennial rule. (Rev. 21:4; Isa. 33:24) Too, at that time not just a few individuals, but “all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) Are you confident that those promises will come true? Will you prove your faith by studying the Scriptures and obeying God’s requirements for the present day?
Jesus’ miracles are full of meaning for people today. They reveal his compassionate interest in human welfare and ability to rectify all physical woes that afflict mankind, including death. The Gospel records of Jesus’ miracles also demonstrate the need to place full confidence in Jesus Christ as God’s representative and “Chief Agent of life.” (Acts 3:15) Since the miracles of Jesus are among the solidly attested events of human history, there is sound basis for such faith.