The Miracles of Jesus—What Can You Learn?
YOU may be surprised to learn that the Bible accounts of Jesus’ life on earth never use the original-language word for “miracle.” The Greek word (dyʹna·mis) sometimes translated “miracle” literally means “power.” (Luke 8:46) It may also be rendered “ability” or “powerful works.” (Matthew 11:20; 25:15) According to one scholar, this Greek term “emphasizes the mighty work that has been done, and, in particular, the power by which it was accomplished. The event is described in terms of the power of God in action.”
Another Greek term (teʹras) is usually rendered “portent” or “wonder.” (John 4:48; Acts 2:19) This expression highlights the effect on observers. Quite often, the crowd and the disciples were amazed and astounded at Jesus’ powerful works.—Mark 2:12; 4:41; 6:51; Luke 9:43.
A third Greek term (se·meiʹon) referring to Jesus’ miracles denotes a “sign.” It “focuses upon the deeper meaning of the miracle,” says scholar Robert Deffinbaugh. He adds: “A sign is a miracle which conveys a truth about our Lord Jesus.”
Illusion or God-Given Power?
The Bible does not describe Jesus’ miracles as tricks or illusions designed to entertain people. They were manifestations of “the majestic power of God,” as in the case of a boy from whom Jesus expelled a demon. (Luke 9:37-43) Would such powerful works be impossible for Almighty God—the One who is described as having an “abundance of dynamic energy”? (Isaiah 40:26) Of course not!
The Gospel accounts refer to some 35 miracles of Jesus. But the total number of his miracles is not revealed. For instance, Matthew 14:14 states: “He [Jesus] saw a great crowd; and he felt pity for them, and he cured their sick ones.” We are not told how many sick people he cured on that occasion.
Such powerful works were central to Jesus’ claim that he was the Son of God, the promised Messiah. The Scriptures did indeed show that God-given power enabled Jesus to perform miracles. The apostle Peter referred to Jesus as “a man publicly shown by God to you through powerful works and portents and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22) On another occasion, Peter pointed out that “God anointed him [Jesus] with holy spirit and power, and he went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil; because God was with him.”—Acts 10:37, 38.
The miracles of Jesus were intertwined with his message. Mark 1:21-27 reveals the reaction of the crowd to Jesus’ teaching and to one of his miracles. Mark 1:22 says that the crowds “became astounded at his way of teaching,” and Mr 1 verse 27 points out that the people were “astonished” when he expelled a demon. Both Jesus’ powerful works and his message provided proof that he was the promised Messiah.
Jesus did not merely claim that he was the Messiah; along with his words and other deeds, the God-given power displayed in his miracles furnished evidence of his Messiahship. When questions about his role and commission arose, Jesus boldly replied: “I have the witness greater than that of John [the Baptizer], for the very works that my Father assigned me to accomplish, the works themselves that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father dispatched me.”—John 5:36.
Marks of Authenticity
Why can we be certain that Jesus’ miracles were real, authentic? Consider some of the marks of authenticity.
In performing his powerful works, Jesus never drew attention to himself. He made sure that the result of any miracle was that God received the credit and the glory. Before curing a blind man, for instance, Jesus stressed that the healing would take place “in order that the works of God might be made manifest in his case.”—John 9:1-3; 11:1-4.
Unlike illusionists, magicians, and faith healers, Jesus never used hypnotism, trickery, spectacular displays, magic spells, or emotional rituals. He did not resort to superstition or the use of relics. Note the unassuming way in which Jesus healed two blind men. “Moved with pity,” says the account, “Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately they received sight, and they followed him.” (Matthew 20:29-34) No ritual, ceremony, or showy display was involved. Jesus performed his miraculous works in the open, often before numerous eyewitnesses. He did not use special lighting, staging, or props. In contrast, alleged modern-day miracles often defy documentation.—Mark 5:24-29; Luke 7:11-15.
Jesus sometimes acknowledged the faith of those who benefited from his miracles. But a person’s lack of faith did not prevent Jesus from performing a miracle. While he was in Capernaum in Galilee, “people brought him many demon-possessed persons; and he expelled the spirits with a word, and he cured all who were faring badly.”—Matthew 8:16.
The miracles of Jesus were performed to meet actual physical needs of people, not to satisfy someone’s curiosity. (Mark 10:46-52; Luke 23:8) And Jesus never performed miracles in order to profit personally in any way.—Matthew 4:2-4; 10:8.
What About the Gospel Accounts?
The facts about Jesus’ miracles have been transmitted to us through the pages of the four Gospels. Are there reasons to rely on these accounts as we examine the authenticity of the miracles attributed to Jesus? Yes, there are.
As already noted, Jesus’ miracles were performed in public, before many eyewitnesses. The earliest Gospels were penned at a time when most of those eyewitnesses were still alive. Regarding the honesty of the Gospel writers, the book The Miracles and the Resurrection notes: “To accuse the gospel evangelists of indiscriminately submerging historical fact in a flood of miracle-mongering to serve the interests of theological propaganda would be outright injustice. . . . They meant to be honest recorders.”
Jewish opponents of Christianity never challenged the powerful works described in the Gospels. They questioned only the power by which these were performed. (Mark 3:22-26) Neither could later detractors successfully deny Jesus’ miracles. On the contrary, during the first and second centuries C.E., there were references to miraculous works performed by Jesus. Clearly, we have every reason to view the Gospel accounts of his miracles as authentic.
The Man Behind the Miracles
An examination of Jesus’ miracles would be incomplete were it to be limited to logical arguments about their authenticity. In describing Jesus’ powerful works, the Gospels reveal a man of deep feelings and unrivaled compassion, with a keen interest in the welfare of fellow humans.
Consider the case of a leper who approached Jesus with the desperate plea: “If you just want to, you can make me clean.” “Moved with pity,” Jesus reached out and touched the leper, saying: “I want to. Be made clean.” The man was instantly healed. (Mark 1:40-42) Jesus thus demonstrated the empathy that moved him to use his God-given power to perform miracles.
What happened when Jesus met up with a funeral procession coming out of the city of Nain? The deceased young man was the only son of a widow. “Moved with pity” for the woman, Jesus approached her and said: “Stop weeping.” Then he raised her son back to life.—Luke 7:11-15.
A comforting lesson that can be drawn from Jesus’ miracles is that he was “moved with pity” and did things to help people. But such miracles are not mere history. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever,” says Hebrews 13:8. He now rules as heavenly King, ready and able to use his God-given miraculous powers in a far grander way than he did when on earth as a human. Soon, Jesus will use them to heal obedient mankind. Jehovah’s Witnesses will gladly help you to learn more about this bright prospect for the future.
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Jesus’ miracles were a manifestation of “the majestic power of God”
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Jesus was a man of deep feelings