“This, the first of his A Course In Miracles Bookstore, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in Him.” John 2:11
Anyone who does not believe in God finds the concept of a miracle, any event that contradicts and even suspends the laws of nature, impossible to accept. That is, if God does not exist, only nature controls life. Therefore no miracle is possible and any account of a miracle cannot be true. This logical argument against miracles was first formulated by Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677). Spinoza’s argument can be summarized as follows:
- A miracle violates natural laws.
- Natural laws are immutable.
- It is impossible to violate immutable laws.
- Therefore, miracles are impossible.
However, if God exists, He created the natural laws, so it should be no problem for Him to move beyond or outside these laws, nor can He be restrained by these laws. Jesus used miracles as signs to his credentials as the Son of God. Without miracles it would be exceptionally difficult to believe His claims. As John wrote in John 20:30-31:“Jesus’ disciples saw Him do many more other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life.”Observe that the miracles of Jesus not only showed His power over nature, but also revealed His approach to ministry: helping others, speaking with authority, and connecting with people.
The keyword is compassion. Almost all His miracles were driven by compassion. He healed people who sought His help. He raised the dead to comfort grieving families. He quieted storms to calm the fears of His friends. He fed multitudes to avert their hunger. Don’t fail to notice that Jesus never performed a miracle for His own benefit or gain. The miracles aided others, not Him. On five occasions Jesus performed a miracle as a sign solely for the disciples: walking on water; cursing of the fig tree; both miraculous catches of fish by the disciples; and the coin for the temple tax. All other miracles sprang from compassion for the people around Him. The New Testament gospels record thirty-five miracles.
Only one miracle (the feeding of the five thousand) is described in every gospel. About half of the miracles are recorded in two or more of the gospels. As expected, quite a few, eleven in fact, are shared between all the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), but only seven are recorded in only two of the three synoptic accounts. Two miracles in John also appear in one or more of the synoptic gospels. Matthew has three unique miracles, Mark has two, while Luke and John each record six.
This distribution once more demonstrates Matthew, Mark, and Luke are personal testimonies. Even Mark, the gospel “copied” by Matthew and Luke, has two miracles not mentioned in the other two. Why are they omitted if Matthew and Luke leaned on Mark as their primary source as the synoptic theory claims?
As miracles are evidence of Jesus deity, it is useful to categorize them into:
- Healing miracles: The vast majority (26) of miracles in which Jesus heals one person or more or even raises (Jairus’ daughter, a widow’s son and Lazarus) from the dead.
- Nature miracles: Nine miracles are recorded where Jesus does something impossible simply within our natural world. He defied the laws of nature.
The healing miracles are easy targets for critics. Many simply insist that the healed person was not ill, the person might be “self-healed” (the “power of positive thinking”) or there might even have been a type of hypnosis or other “magic.” Obviously our ancestors did not have our knowledge of science, but they were not stupid either! Even a first century uneducated Jew could distinguish between a magician’s trick and a genuine miracle.
They would have identified a fake healing. The healed people were not selected from the audience willingly participating in a performance. These were locals, known by the community for their handicaps, perhaps long-term blindness or injury. Resurrecting someone moments after his death would suggest he had not actually died. Lazarus, however, was in the grave four days (John 11:39: “‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.'”), so one can hardly argue that “he was not really dead.” Still, from an evidence perspective, the most awesome confirmations of Jesus’ deity are the nature miracles.
There is just no explanation for walking on water, calming a storm, feeding huge crowds from a single lunch box, or turning water into wine. Such events are real miracles and they show Jesus’ divine power. Keep in mind that such miracles have never been claimed by other professed miracle workers. Only Jesus has displayed such power. Look closely at the nature miracles and probe them for the characteristics for a genuine miracle.