many people have given messages. They were trying to make people consider the
messages. They would say that they would do something with out actually backing
it up, or they would say they are someone with out proof. Jesus had made many
messages that said that he was “the messiah”, the son of god. The performance
of miracles had strengthened Jesus’ message. Because Jesus had done miracles to
back up his message, people actually believed he was the messiah, Son of God.
Many people believe Jesus actually performed miracles but some people believe
he did not.
In the Bible, the four Gospels record miracles that Jesus worked when he
was on the earth. Many modern people have questions is whether the miracles
really took place. And then, if they did take place, what is their meaning? How
did they happen? Why did they happen? People
have debated the
reality of miracles for
centuries. The Gospels do not treat the miracles of Jesus as if they
were weird or irrational events. They are certainly extraordinary, but they
make good sense as indicators of the character of Jesus’s ministry as a whole.
The miracles showed the power of God at work, and they attested to the
authenticity of the prophet. So the people saw Jesus’s miracle as a work of God
and they saw Jesus as a prophet of God.
recorded in the Bible are some of the most wonderful things, and often some of
the first things people read about when one begins to read the Bible. As
children we begin to read of Jesus turning water into wine, walking on water,
Calming the storm, and more! As a matter of fact, in modern days, the miracles
of Christ and the first century Christians have impacted us in such an extreme
manner that entire religious organizations, denominations, and doctrines have
been developed based solely, or in part, on the Miracles of Christ. Some would
say that some focus more so on the miracles of Christ than any other subject of
Christ, only second to his death, burial, and resurrection
The Gospels record the miracles in order to indicate what
happened, but they also have a religious purpose. Through understanding who
Jesus is and what he did, we are invited to place our faith in him. The Gospels
indicate that Jesus lived on earth long ago, but now continues to live in
heaven, having ascended to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). The same Jesus
who acted with power and compassion on earth still acts with power and
Now, after having read
almost half of Walter Kaspers ‘Gesu il Cristo’, it would be appropriate
to discuss miracles on several levels. First, we shall define a Miracle,
looking at what a miracle is, what constitutes a “Biblical” miracle, and more.
It will also be necessary to take a look at some specific miracles of Christ.
It will be important to dissect the miracle itself and examine the uniqueness
of the Biblical miracles versus the miracles that we see in modern times.
DEFINITION OF A
Before one begins a
certain work, it is appropriate to define the work in the beginning. Similarly
when we approach certain terms such as the Miracles of Christ, we have to begin
by looking at the various interpretations and meanings which are already
available and then we can focus on one or two and then build up on them.
One can say that most
scholars define miracles, as events or things that defied the laws of nature.
Herbert Lockyer wrote an excellent book, properly titled “All the Miracles of
the Bible.” In the book he simply defines
miracles as “a work wrought by a divine power for a divine purpose by means
beyond the reach of man.”1
A lot of people attribute miracles to births, luck, and other things. The
reason for this is that one of the problems with society as a whole is they do
not truly understand what a miracle truly is.
The usual theistic vision of the
world is that which presumes the existence of an omnipotent God who, while
transcending nature, is nevertheless able to act, or to express his will,
within the natural world. There have been many controversies about the concept
of miracle. From its stem, the term “miracle” comes from the Latin
miracle, which derives from mirari, which means to be amazed. So the more
general characterization of a miracle is like an event that provokes wonder. As
such, it must be in some way extraordinary, unusual or contrary to our human
A true Biblical miracle
would be a miracle that defies the laws of Nature. For example, When Jesus
caused a blind man to be healed. Everyone who knew the blind man knew he was
truly blind. There was no denying it. Jesus, without the help of medicine, the
natural healing agencies of the body, or anything else was able to spit and
make a mud concoction, rub it on the man’s eyes. The end result is that Jesus
tells the man to go and wash his face and the man immediately was able to see
again. The miracles that Jesus performed without a shadow of a doubt defied the
Laws of nature, the Laws of gravity even! Think about it! Jesus walks on water,
many have attempted to bust the myth of Jesus being able to walk on water, or
try and figure out a plausible way he was able to walk on water, or appear that
One important thing one
will note as they read the bible is that when Jesus, or his Apostles were
performing miracles, there was always a message that either came before or
afterwards. Lockyer says this, “The term “Miracle” then, from the Biblical
standpoint, is used to describe the wonderful phenomena accompanying the Jewish
and Christian revelations, especially at critical moments.”2 He
goes on to say in another section that “an important aspect of Biblical
miracles is the fact that they are proper proofs of a divine revelation.
It is questionable
whether there can be an authentic revelation without miracles. They are not
only proofs of a revelation but form a revelation in themselves. Of course,
miracles guarantee the authenticity of a revelation.”3 At
this juncture it would be appropriate to take a look at a few passages of
Scripture that support the idea that Miracles were, as the Bible puts it,
“confirm” the Word. If one reads Mark 16:20 says the following; “And they went
forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the
word with signs following. Amen.” In order to understand this text an
appropriate analogy would be like this. For several hundred years the Jewish
nation was waiting on a Messiah. They were hoping this Messiah was going to
come in great power and set up a physical kingdom. Here comes a 30-year-old, hippy
looking carpenter who says that he is the Messiah that they were looking for.
In such a situation, it is clear that it would take a little more than just
words to convince the people of this.
The same could be true
with the events that unfolded during the infant stages of the church. When 12
men said that Christ has risen and they are following him. They had to be able
to prove that they were who they say they were. A final word on what miracles
are comes from W. Gaddys Roy. He says
the following, “A miracle is an act in which God works aside from his natural
One thing that Roy does make mention in his book is the fact that the miracles
themselves do not take any extra or greater power than the power in the first
place. As Roy puts it “Raising the dead requires no greater power than the
power to give life in the first place.”5
Overall the definition of a miracles as we can see is simply an event or action
that defies the laws of nature that comes from God. These miracles however,
require no greater power from God.
TERMS USED FOR MIRACLES
In the bible there are many terms that are used for
miracles. Some of these terms are Wonders, Signs, Powers and mighty works, or
Mighty deeds, and great terrors.
To analyse the word
wonders, we need to read carefully passages like Mark 2:12, Acts 2:43, and Acts
2:22. A wonder is a miracle, in fact, it is such a wonderful act, that the term
wonder is used. Roy noted in his book “A wonder is that which astonishes the
beholder. A miracle is an astonishing event which the beholder cannot trace to
any known law.”6
Here Roy not only gives a great definition of wonders, but he also again shows
how it goes against the Laws of Nature.
The term “signs” is
also used to describe miracles. One can find this word used often in such
passages like Mark 16:20 and John 2:18. Often when we see the word sign, we see
it represent the near working or near presence of God in a situation. This is
why many people often asked for signs (Matthew 12:38). Roy has this to say
about the word signs; “As a sign miracles are valuable, not as much for what
they are as for what they indicate of the grace and power of the doer, or of
the connections in which he stands with a higher power or higher world.”7
The next two words or
phrases can be analysed together. The phrases “powers and mighty works, and
mighty deeds” are such that many a times they could be interchangeably used.
These words or phrases can be found in such passages as Acts 6:8, Acts 10:38,
Rom 15:19. These expressions or words shows power and draws our focus and
attention on the actual cause of that which produces the miracle. In Matthew
7:22 the word is translated as “wonderful works,” and in Mark 6:14 it is
translated as “mighty works.” In other
passages such as Acts 2:22, Acts 19:11, Gal 3:5, and others, the word is simply
translated as miracle.
Lastly, we take a quick
look at a word that many wouldn’t really notice or take a great note of as
being a connection with miracles. However, in Deut. 4:34 in the list there the
word “great terrors” is seen. We only see this in connection with miracles in
the old testament and we never see miracles in the New Testament described as
“terrors.” The Miracles of the New Testament are miracles of God’s grace and
mercy. It is also suggested that they aid in showing the differences in the
dispensations. However, in the Old Testament we do see things that were
unexplained, or things that went against nature, called “great terrors.” Roy
says; “Terrors, temptations or trials suggest two reasons why God showed these
evidences of his power to Israel.”8
While studying through Roy’s book he points out that the healing of the
Paralytic man in Mark 2:1-12 actually shows us a combination. This miracle was
a wonder because those who witnessed it were amazed and in wonder at what had
taken place. This was also a sign because it showed that Jesus by speaking over
the man was greater than the other men that were present.
THE PROBLEM WITH
we have already seen miracles are part of the proclamation of the kingdom of
God. The kingdom of God is brought not only through preaching, but also through
acts of healing, exorcising and resurrecting the dead. But given the
situation we are in, one may often ask what is the understanding of
miracles? What does a miracle mean for a common man in the postmodern
world? Many may say that miracles are not God’s powerful actions, but the
achievements of the human in science and technology. They are not
extraordinary events of wonder, but human wonders explained in theory. For
a modern man it is very difficult to understand the miracles of Jesus
especially in the scientific context.
lists two main problems with miracles, historical problems and the scientific
challenge. Critical historical studies suggest three main points.
there is a tendency to multiply the miracles in the Gospels.
accounts of miracles are found in other ancient sources. This gives the
impression of Christianizing pagan symbols in Christianity.
the Gospels are written in the light of the risen Christ, the evangelical
writer shows these miracles to project the theme of the risen Christ.
of the miracles become legends. They give more theological meaning of
historical authenticity. This does not mean that there is no historical
authenticity of the miracles of Jesus. There are certainly some miracles that
Jesus accomplished. Jesus breaks Jewish law while performing miracles. Often,
he healed on Saturday. This was one of the main reasons why the Jewish
authorities hated him. They accused him of working with the
devil. Even his opponents accepted that there were powerful
actions. This shows that Jesus had performed some miracles that irritated
his enemies. He left something powerful behind him.
the miracle is understood as an event outside the possibility of
nature. God replaces the causality of the world. This definition
turns out to be wrong. To make us understand a miracle, God must work
within natural laws. It is a divine intervention in the
world. Otherwise, it would have no meaning for us. Even the New
Testament does not use the word “terata”, the usual Greek word for
miracles or prodigies, but rather it is ‘dynamei’, which means powerful action
(Walter Kasper, 121).
must be understood in the context of a biblical man. For him the center of
reality is God and not nature. Therefore, the questions concerning
miracles are not of a scientific but theological nature. Miracles include
the whole reality as a whole and not a single event. Science can explain a
single event in terms of cause and effect but can not speak of reality in
totality. It is the work of philosophy and theology. Therefore,
seeking the explanation of miracles with scientific methods will be
futile. In conclusion, miracle means that God works within the laws of
nature and gives us signs of his presence among us.
The miracles of Jesus have at least three kinds of significance,
corresponding roughly to three aspects of who Jesus is.
1. They Show that
Jesus Is Fully God
Let us begin with the first aspect, namely Jesus’s deity.
John 1:1 indicates that Jesus is God. From all eternity he exists as the Word,
the second person of the Trinity. The miracles as works of divine power confirm
his deity. In the minds of many Christian readers, Jesus’s deity is what stands
out in the miracles. But the people who originally saw Jesus’s miracles did not
understand their full significance right away.
In Luke 7:16 the people identified Jesus as “a great
prophet.” He was indeed a prophet; but he was more. He was God come in the
flesh (John 1:14). Consider the miracles in the Old Testament that took place
through prophets like Elijah and Elisha. These miracles were works of divine
power. God brought them about. Elijah and Elisha did not accomplish them by
their own innate power. Should we say exactly the same thing about Jesus?
No, because Jesus made claims that went beyond those of
Old Testament prophets. He is the unique Son of the Father, and his name is
honored alongside the name of the Father and the Spirit as a divine name (Matt.
28:19). When we understand the miracles of Jesus in the context of who he is,
we see that they are works that Jesus did by his own divine power, not merely
works of God done through a human prophet:
to Goethe, miracles are the favorite sons of faith . The
whole aspect of Jesus’ life on earth is surrounded by the Kingdom of God
. Miracles are the visible and physical signs and dimensions
of the coming of kingdom of God . They clearly indicate the
beginning of the end of Satan’s reign. They are not mere laws of nature
but what sustains eschatological hope in us. according to Bultmann,
miracles are seen as forgiveness of sins and faith . It
is in this hope of believing in God that he heals both internally and
externally. Jesus did not perform miracles as a spectacle of his glory,
but he helps us to understand his
eschatological authority .
are an act of divine obedience . Jesus had to
fulfill the promises that the Father made to the promised
generations. Thus, the will of God is reflected in the miracles of Jesus.
Miracles are a sign of the humility of God who becomes man . The
manifested power of God was an epiphany hidden in Jesus. The miracles are
to collect the lost sheep of the RdD . The
eschatological gathering of God’s people through doing and sending disciples is
to symbolically experience God’s salvation and love.
to Kasper, miracles and faith go hand in hand. the purpose of miracles
requires the Christological question “who is this?” distancing
all possibilities, miracles lead us to faith. Do not believe in God as a
“roller” that is scary but puts trust in him as an answer to the
Christological question. Miracles are signs of faith that
presupposes seeing and understanding miracles as acts of God . Miracles
are Jesus’ answer to our human power.
theological understanding of miracles does not want Jesus to do what we want,
rather doing what Jesus wants from us
1 Lockyer, Herbert. All the Miracles of the Bible.
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961.
4 Roy, W. Gaddys. Sermon Outlines on the Miracles of the
Bible (Revised Edition). Montgomery, AL: Southern Christian University,