Miracles have taken place from long time ago before Christ, during the lifetime of Christ, after Christ and even in the post modern world. Different cultures and religious sectors have different definitions of a miracle, although almost all cultural groups and religious groups believe in miracles. A miracle is any event that takes place contrary to the laws of nature and efforts to explain the event calls for some divine intervention. In other cultures the term miracle may refer to the actions above the laws of nature that are performed by a supernatural being that the culture refers to as a god. In this case the divine intervention is as a result of a certain deity unlike the first case. Similar religions may also have differing definitions of the term miracle. In a casual language a miracle may refer to any doubtful and at the same time beneficial event, for example surviving a natural calamity or recovering from a terminal illness. In a philosophical language a mere coincidence is not considered to be a miracle, no matter how important or unusual the event is, for example missing a plane that then clashes does not mean that was a miracle unless a supernatural being intervened in the causes that made the individual miss the plane. In Christian theology the word miracle is a sign of striking interposition of heavenly power through which the activities of the normal course of nature are withheld, overridden or amended.
SIGNIFICANCE OF MIRACLES
Some of the current theologians claim that issues relating to miracles have been widely misunderstood and also chosen by theorists and critics of religion to achieve their own goals and also so as to try and prove that some of the events that are alleged to have taken place in the bible did not really take place. These actions of the current critics and philosophers of religion have led to the rejection of some reports relating to miracles and these reports end up being regarded as impossible according to the known and the international laws that govern the occurrence of events. Some of the current theologians claim that neither in the Old nor the New Testament is there word ‘miracle’ and they say the events described therein are just wonders caused by power and not miracles.2 No matter how events in the bible are interpreted it remains true that in biblical times and also in the current days the events remain in some sense to be contrary to the normal laws of nature and therefore they should be referred to as miracles. Miracles remain an important aspect both in the old days and in the current days; a good example of this is that people in the days of Moses as well as those living in the postmodern world understand that seas do not normally part to give way to people and hence this incidence warrants being referred to as a miracle because the sea behaved contrary to the laws of nature. What is required for a better understanding of the miracles in the early days and currently is not a complicated idea of what constitutes a law of nature but a strong idea of what makes up the normal laws of nature and this is an idea that the very old had and also those living in the postmodern world have. The importance and the concerns of miracles are more to the philosophers as compared to the social scientists. Philosophers are interested in obtaining the truth about various religious claims and therefore they value miracles more than social scientists. Many people from different cultures and religious groups regard the issue of miracles to be quite significant.3 The importance of miracles is still felt today by some people who hold very strong beliefs in their religion just like in the early days.
MIRACLES IN THE TIME OF JESUS
In the course of his ministry Jesus performed many miracles which indicate actual historical events in the lives of Christians but on the other hand they are considered to be figurative by Liberal Christians. Significant scholars argue that current experimental methods are unable to proof if certain genuine miracles are actual historic events. The miracles performed by Jesus are grouped according to the type of the miracle. The miracles are grouped into power over nature, cures, power over death, exorcisms and other general miracles. The following miracles were performed by Jesus arranged in a chronological manner that is accepted by most current scholars.
Changing water into wine
This was the first miracle that Jesus performed and it took place in a village called Cana in Galilee. Jesus together with his disciples and His mother had been invited into a wedding and during the celebrations the wine got out of supply. Jesus was convinced by His mother to make wine for the people therefore he requested that six water pots be filled with water to the brim. Jesus then prayed to God and told the master of the ceremony to taste the liquid in the water pots and to his surprise the water had turned into wine. The master of the ceremony claimed that the wine that Jesus had provided was better than the previous wine drunk in the ceremony.
Healing of the imperial official son
A son to a royal official in Capernaum was sick, when the royal official heard that Jesus was in Cana He came to Jesus and begged Him to heal his son who was in the verge of death. The royal official and Jesus held a brief conversation and after that Jesus told the official to leave and his son would be healed (John 4:46-54). The royal official had faith in Jesus and so he begun on his way back to Capernaum where he met his servants who informed him that his son was healed. The imperial official asked his servants the specific time when his son began to heal and he realized that it was the same time that Jesus had told him that his son would live.
Healing of the man possessed by demons in Capernaum
Luke 4:33 states that one day while Jesus was preaching in one of the Synagogues in the town of Capernaum there was a man who was possessed by demons. On hearing the sayings of Jesus the man began shouting to Jesus asking Jesus why He was bothering them. The man claimed that Jesus of Nazareth had come to destroy them, referring to him and the others who were also possessed by the demons. The man shouted to Jesus saying that he knew Jesus was the Holy Son of God. Jesus realized that the demons in the man were causing him to shout these words and so Jesus commanded the demons out of the man. The man then went into a convulsion as the evil spirit within him screamed and then left him. People all over the area of Galilee heard of this miracle because the news spread very fast. After Jesus healed the man with the demons, accompanied by His disciples they went to the home of Simon and Andrews and they found that the Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever. Jesus held the sick lady by the hand and soon the fever left her and she got out of bed and cooked dinner for them.
Healing of a leper
After Jesus had finished preaching about the “Sermon on the mount” as stated in Mathew chapter five to seven, Jesus went down the hillside together with a large crowd. Jesus was then approached by a leper who knelt before Him, worshipped Him and pleaded with Him to heal him if He wanted to. Jesus touched the man and said that He wanted to heal him so He said “be healed.” Instantly the leper was healed.
Healing of a servant of a centurion
While Jesus was in Capernaum a centurion came up to Him and informed Him that his servant was sick and in the verge of death, the centurion pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus said that he would come to the centurion’s home and heal the servant but then the centurion said that he was not worthy to have Jesus under his roof. The man asked Jesus to just say a word and his servant would be healed, so Jesus said go and at that moment the servant was healed.4
Raising a widow’s son
While Jesus was approaching a town of Nain He saw the body of the only son of a widow being carried out. Jesus told the widow not to weep and touched the dead body and said “Youngman rise!” the dead man came to live and he began to speak, Jesus then handed him over to his mother. Those who witnessed this miracle spread the word and within a short time the word had spread all over Judea.
Calming the storm
Mathew 8:23-27 states that one day Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee, but while on the journey a great wind led to high waves that almost swamped their boat. At the time of the storm Jesus was sleeping in the stern, His disciples feared that they would die and so they woke Jesus. Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea “peace.” The wind stopped and the sea became calm. This miracle is one example to show that Jesus had power over nature.5
Healing of a woman who had an internal bleeding
There was a woman who had suffered from internal bleeding for a very long time. The physicians had tried but the woman could not recover. When the woman heard of Jesus she went and touched His cloak with faith that this would heal her. When she touched the cloak her hemorrhage stopped immediately and she felt it in her body. Jesus felt that some power had gone out of Him and so He asked who had touched His clothes. The woman came to Jesus and told Him that she had touched her clothes, Jesus told the woman to go because her faith had healed her. This miracle shows that Jesus had more power than the physicians or the mankind in general6
Raising Jairus’ daughter
Jairus was a leader of the synagogue; on the same day that Jesus had healed the woman who was bleeding internally Jairus came to Jesus and begged Jesus to lay hands on his daughter who was at the verge of death. At this point someone came from the house of Jairus and informed him that his daughter had died. On hearing this Jesus told Jairus not to fear but instead to believe and his daughter would be saved. Jesus went to the house of Jairus and took the dead girl by the hand then said to her “Child get up.” The spirit of the child returned and Jesus told the people who were in the house not to tell anyone what had happened.7
Healing of the two blind men
There were two blind men who followed Jesus begging Him to have mercy on them, Jesus then asked them whether they believed that he was able to heal them, the two blind men replied that they believed in the Son of David. Jesus then touched their eyes and said that they would be healed according to their faith. The eyes of the two blind men opened and Jesus ordered them not to pass the information to anyone. In spite of the warning that the men had received from Jesus they went ahead and spread the news about Him.8
Jesus feeds Five thousand men and their families
One day on the shore of the sea of Galilee a large crowd gathered to hear the teachings of Jesus and it got late and the people complained that there was no food and Jesus ordered His disciples to give the people something to eat. The disciples said to Jesus that they had only five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish which was not enough to feed the huge crowd. Jesus took the five loaves and the two pieces of fish and looked up to the heaven and blessed the food, he then gave the food to his disciples who divided the food among the crowd because the food had multiplied. The 5000 men and their families were fed and some food was left which comprised of twelve baskets full of broken pieces.9 This is the only miracle performed by Jesus that is recorded in the four Gospels.
Walking on water
After Jesus had fed the 5000 men and their families he ordered His disciples to get into a boat and get on the other side of the Sea of Galilee and He then dismissed the crowd. Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and by the time he was back the boat was far from the shore and he walked to the boat on the sea. His disciples did not believe this and Peter asked Jesus to command him to go to Him on the water. Jesus did so but on the way Peter lost his faith and he almost sunk but Jesus came and held him by the hand.10
Healing of a girl possessed by demons
While Jesus was in the region of Tyre a woman whose daughter had been possessed by some demons came to Jesus and begged Jesus to cast the demons out of her daughter. Because the woman was a Gentile Jesus said that he was sent to the People of Israel. The woman insisted and Jesus saw the faith in the woman as He ordered it to be done according to the woman’s wish. When the woman got home she found her daughter resting on the bed with the demons gone.11
Healing ten lepers
While on His way to Jerusalem Jesus was approached by ten lepers who kept a distance and called Jesus for mercy. Jesus ordered them to go and show themselves to the priests and as they did so they got healed but only one returned to give thanks to the Lord.12
Raising of Lazarus
The sisters of Lazarus sent a message to Jesus telling him that their brother Lazarus was ill. Jesus stayed for a long time before going to Bethany and when He got there Lazarus had already died. The stone to the tomb where Lazarus body had been laid was removed and Jesus looked up and prayed to the Lord and called out with a loud voice “Lazarus come out.” Lazarus then came out of the tomb.13
Jesus heals Bartimaeus of blindness
Jesus together with a large crowd was leaving Jericho and on the roadside there was a blind beggar called Bartimaeus. The blind man called to Jesus loudly although the crowd kept on telling him to keep quiet. Jesus called him and he came to Jesus asking Him to let him see. Jesus told him to go because his faith had healed him. Bartimaeus regained his vision immediately and followed Jesus.14
Catching a large number of fish
This is the last miracle that is known to have been performed by Jesus before ascending to Heaven. After His resurrection Jesus was on the beach while his disciples were fishing although they did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus asked them if they had caught any fish and they said they had not. Jesus ordered them to cast their net on the right side and when they did so they caught so many fish and the net did not break.15
LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE MIRACLES OF JESUS TODAY
By looking at the first miracle that Jesus performed, recorded in John 2: 1-11, we learn that Jesus took time to go to weddings therefore he loved being with people. From the same miracle we learn that Mary, the mother of Jesus relied on Jesus and therefore she asked Jesus to make wine for the people. Jesus also demonstrated His power over nature through this miracle. The other aspect that can be learnt from this miracle is that Jesus was a man who was full of the joy of life; this is evident in that the wine that He made was the finest of the wines. The other lesson that can be learnt from the miracles of Jesus is that His disciples believed in Him and so should Christians in the current postmodern world. It is clear from His miracles that Jesus had power over death because He raised people from death during His ministry. All the people who benefited from the miracles of Christ in the bible had faith for the miracle to happen. This means that Christians should have faith so as to experience miracles in the postmodern world.16
MIRACLES IN THE POST-MODERN WORLD
In the post-modern world there are many healing ministries that say they have witnessed very great and at the same time impressive miracles. Some serious modern world Christians believe that based on the book of acts this is supposed to be the normal experience of the church. Hebrew 2:4 states that performing miracles was a method used by God to confirm the prophetic word. In the modern world miracles have been used by some ministries to gather a huge audience so as to be successful, prosper and make money. In the post modern world all the religious leaders want to become saints and this is the reason why many of the religious leaders are getting involved in the miracle working business. People have also been reported to have testified that they witnessed a miracle while in the real sense it is not true. According to a professor of religion and American studies in the University of Miami, Peter Williams most of the present day miracles are doubtful as compared to the miracles during the time of Jesus. Some of the Protestants who are conservative believe that the age of performing miracles is long gone and cannot be extended to the postmodern world. On the other hand liberal Protestants base their arguments on theologians like John Spong who says that the miracles in the bible are parables to indicate the faith in Jesus and that those miracles did not really take place.
Although miracles in the postmodern world are not believed to have taken place, it is clear that there is a miracle that has been taking place on each of the Lord’s Day from the day the church was found. This miracle takes place in the midst of Christians every time they meet to celebrate the Holy Liturgy. After the last super held by Jesus with His disciples before He was crucified, bread and wine became the body and the blood of Jesus.
Hebrews 13: 8, states that Jesus remains the same today, tomorrow and forever, therefore this means that if Jesus was a miracle worker during His ministry on earth He is still today. Denying miracles though, in the postmodern world would mean mocking the act of prayer because even the smallest answer to prayers is marked by some divine intervention. Although there is order in the universe God remains the same all the time and therefore there is a large scope in the current world where God’s Spirit can manifest and be seen to work miracles. The inward spiritual changes that take place within an individual when he or she decides to accept the Lord are seen as a miracle in the present world.17 There are also miracles that involve physical changes and miraculous healings are on the increase these days especially in areas where Christians carry out their prayers in the way the bible teaches them to pray. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 states that there is a gift of miracles and so Christians should expect that some people possess this gift.
Miracles have taken place before Christ, during Christ and after Christ. In the Old Testament there are many miracles that are documented to have taken place. During the time of Christ, He performed many miracles that were beneficial to those involved. Up to this date those miracles of Jesus remain as historical events for all true believers of the Christian faith. In the post modern world there are miracles that still take place although some of them are doubtful. Currently Christian ministries want to have as many followers as possible and so they use unrealistic miracles to lure followers. Strong Christians need to believe that miracles do happen and continue praying so as to experience miracles as answers to their prayers.
Adams Robert, M. (1992), “Miracles, Laws of Nature and Causation – II.” The Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume, 60 pp. 207-224.
Boden, Margaret. “Miracles and Scientific Explanation.” Ratio, 11 (1969), pp. 137-44.
Brad Burke (2009), does God Still do miracles? Today’s Christian magazine, retrieved from: http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2007/janfeb/5.46.html, on 24th July 2009
Danaher, James P. July (2001), “David Hume and Jonathan Edwards on Miracles and Religious Faith”, journal Southwest Philosophy Review, 17(2), pp. 13-24.
George Konig and Ray Konig (2009), Miracles of Jesus Christ, retrieved from: http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/miracles.htm, on 24th July 2009 at 11:26
John 6: 16-21
John 11: 1-44
John Kilgallen J., (1989), a Brief Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, Paulist Press Publishers,
Luke 7:1-10, the New King James Version
Luke 8: 41-42, 49-56
Mark 10: 46-52
Mathew 14: 19-21
Mathew 15: 21-28
Mathew 9: 27-31
Meier, John P. (1994), a Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, v. 2, Mentor, Message and Miracles, Doubleday Publishers
Strauss, David. (1848), Das Leben Jesu. 2 vols. Tbingen. Translated by Mary Ann Evans as The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. London,
1 Danaher, James P. July (2001), “David Hume and Jonathan Edwards on Miracles and Religious Faith”, journal Southwest Philosophy Review, 17(2), pp. 13-24.
2 Strauss, David. (1848), Das Leben Jesu. 2 vols. Tbingen. Translated by Mary Ann Evans as The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. London,
3 Adams, Robert, M. “Miracles, Laws of Nature and Causation – II.” The Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume, 60 (1992), pp. 207-224.
4 Luke 7:1-10 The New King James Version
5 Boden, Margaret. “Miracles and Scientific Explanation.” Ratio, 11 (1969), pp. 137-44.
6 John Kilgallen J., (1989), A Brief Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, Paulist Press Publishers
7 Luke 8: 41-42, 49-56
8 Mathew 9: 27-31
9 Mathew 14: 19-21
10 John 6: 16-21
11 Mathew 15: 21-28
13 John 11: 1-44
14 Mark 10: 46-52
15 John 21: 4-11
17 Brad Burke (2009), does God Still do miracles? Today’s Christian magazine, retrieved from: http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2007/janfeb/5.46.html, on 24th July, 2009