Christianity teaches that Jesus carried out numerous miracles over a three-year period leading up to his execution in Jerusalem around 30AD. These were events that cannot be explained simply – they were supernatural. The miracles showed that Jesus had the power to heal sick people and even to bring dead people back to life. These miracles all happened in different ways – Jesus didn’t follow a formula. They also show he had power over the natural world – he could calm a storm, turn water into wine or cause a fig tree to wither suddenly. He also had power over the spiritual world – he was able to get rid of bad spirits that were affecting people’s mental and physical health. Christians believe that Jesus was more than just a man – he was (and still is) the Son of God. God exists as three persons at the same time: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus was present at the beginning of the universe – God created it – and so it is not really a surprise that he has control over the universe he brought into existence.
Jesus was present at the beginning of the universe – God created it – and so it is not really a surprise that he has control over the universe he brought into existence.
The Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John provide four accounts of Jesus’ life. In the book Matthew, Jesus gives a summary of what he has been doing, ‘the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor…’. The book of John says that these books only tell a fraction of all the miracles that Jesus did.
Many of the miracles are documented in two or three Bible books, some in just one. All four books report how Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men plus women and children from just five small loaves of bread and two fish. ‘The feeding of the five thousand’ as it is often called, is one of the most famous miracles of Jesus. On another occasion he fed 4,000 men plus women and children who had been following him for three days and had run out of food.
The Bible book, John, tells us that Jesus’ first miracle was when he turned water into wine. This happened at a wedding in Cana in Jesus’ home region of Galilee. The wine had run out and Jesus’ mother, Mary, turned to him for help. His reply suggested that he was not yet ready to begin his miraculous works. He said, ‘Dear woman, why do you involve me …my time has not yet come’. Nevertheless he told the servants to fill six huge jars with water and when they then drew some out, it had become wine – and better than the wine that had been finished.
Many of the miracles recorded in the Bible involved the healing of sick people – some of whom had been ill for years. And as word about Jesus and his miracles spread, more people came to see him bringing friends or relatives who were sick. Many accounts describe how Jesus touched the sick person, for example, taking the hand of a leper, touching the eyes of a blind man or the ears of a deaf man. On other occasions, Jesus spoke out and the healing happened. This was how a group of lepers was healed after appealing to him for help.
Just touching the edge of Jesus’ cloak was enough for one woman to be healed. She had suffered constant bleeding for 12 years, a condition that would make her untouchable among her people. The Bible book, Luke, describes how she came up behind Jesus as he was being jostled by a crowd. The woman touched his cloak and the bleeding stopped. Jesus said, ‘someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me’. When the woman confessed, Jesus said, ‘Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace’.
The healings were also advance demonstrations of the New Heavens and New Earth that are to come – a sort of appetiser before the main course!
Faith in Jesus was more essential for healing than Jesus actually being present. The Bible has accounts of where Jesus healed someone without seeing them. In the book, Matthew, a centurion visited him on behalf of his sick servant and told Jesus, ‘Just say the word and my servant will be healed’. Jesus was amazed and impressed by the man’s faith. The servant was healed as they spoke.
Jesus used healings to provoke controversy with the religious authorities by challenging their understanding of ancient Jewish laws. The religious leaders were unhappy that Jesus healed people on the Sabbath – traditionally the day when Jews did not work. But Jesus said they were missing the point of why God had set the day aside in the first place. It was about love and compassion, not rules and regulations.
Many of the healings show Jesus’ power over the spiritual world and even life itself. A number of people that he healed were under the power of dark spiritual forces – demons. Jesus was able to rid the people of these forces. He was also able to bring dead people back to life. One was his close friend Lazarus. The Bible book, John, reports how Lazarus’ sisters begged Jesus to come to see him. Jesus did not rush to heal him. He waited until after Lazarus had died because he knew the impact that raising him from the dead would have. He told his closest followers, ‘Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad that I was not there so that you may believe…’ Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived at his tomb and called him to come out. It was a demonstration of his power and compassion. The healings were also advance demonstrations of the New Heavens and New Earth that are to come – a sort of appetiser before the main course!