Miracles attributed to Jesus

Miracles attributed to Jesus

The miracles of Jesus are the

In the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus refuses to give a miraculous sign to prove his authority.[3] In the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to have performed seven miraculous signs that characterize his ministry, from changing water into wine at the start of his ministry to raising Lazarus from the dead at the end.[4]

To many Christians and Muslims,[5] the miracles are actual historical events. Others, such as some liberal Christians, consider these stories to be figurative.[6] Certain Christian scholars present arguments for the historicity of miracles.[7][8] Modern scholars, working from an Enlightenment viewpoint, tend to adopt a position of skepticism about miracles.[9]

Types and motives

In The Miracles of Jesus, H. Van der Loos discusses two main categories of miracles by Jesus: those that affected people, e.g., the Blind Man of Bethsaida and are called "healings", and those that "controlled nature", e.g., Walking on Water. The three types of healings are cures where an ailment is cured, exorcisms where demons are cast away and the resurrection of the dead. Among these miracles, the Transfiguration of Jesus is unique in that the miracle happens to Jesus himself.[10]

One characteristic shared among all miracles of Jesus in the Gospel accounts is that he delivered benefits freely and never requested or accepted any form of payment for his healing miracles, unlike some high priests of his time who charged those who were healed.

The miracles are outlined in this section and a visual representation, with a link to the each miracle's own page, appears in the gallery of miracles below. The structure and separation of miracles mostly follows Robert Maguire's "The miracles of Christ", John Clowes' "The miracles of Jesus Christ", and H. Van der Loos' "The Miracles of Jesus" listed in the references section.

Cures

The largest group of miracles mentioned in the New Testament involve cures. The Gospels give varying amounts of detail for each episode, sometimes Jesus cures simply by saying a few words, at other times employs material such as spit and mud. Generally they are recorded in the Synoptic Gospels but not in the Gospel of John.

The Blind

The canonical Gospels report four separate cases of Jesus healing the blind. The Gospel of Mark [8:22-26]] is the only place that tells of Jesus healing the Blind man in Bethsaida.

Each of the three synoptic gospels tell of Jesus healing the blind near Jericho, as he passed through that town, shortly before his passion. Mark [10:46-52]] tells only of a man named Bartimaeus being present and healed, as Jesus left Jericho, making him one of the few named people to be cured by Jesus. Matthew [20:29-34]] is a similar account of two blind men being healed outside of Jericho, but gives no names. Luke [18:35-43]] also tells of two unnamed blind men, but seems to place the event instead as when Jesus approached Jericho. The Synoptics state that Jesus met a beggar (Mark gives the name: bar-Timai or son of Timai) who, though blind, still identified Jesus as the Jewish Messiah; Jesus said that the man's faith has healed him, and he "received his sight," and was allowed to follow Jesus.

The Gospel of Matthew [9:27-31]] also reports of Jesus healing two blind men in Galilee, at some earlier time, who also called him "Son of David." Jesus touched their eyes and restored their sight.

Healing the man blind from birth is discussed in the Gospel of John [9:1-12]] and is placed during the Festival of Tabernacles, about six months before his passion. Jesus stated that the man's blindness was not because either the man or his parents sinned. Jesus mixed spittle with dirt to make a mud mixture, which he placed in the man's eyes. Jesus then asked the man to wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam. This done, the man was able to see.

Lepers

The Priestly Code. Jesus instructed the ex-leper not to tell anyone who had healed him; but the man disobeyed, increasing Jesus' fame, and thereafter Jesus withdrew to deserted places, but was followed there.

In the Jerusalem, Jesus sent ten lepers who had sought his assistance to the priests, and that they were healed as they went, but that the only one that came back to thank Jesus was a Samaritan.

Paralytics

Luke 5:17-26. The Synoptics state that a paralytic was brought to Jesus on a mat; Jesus told him to get up and walk, and the man did so. Jesus also told the man that his sins were forgiven, which irritated the Pharisees. Jesus is described as responding to the anger by asking whether it is easier to say that someone's sins are forgiven, or to tell the man to get up and walk. Mark and Luke state that Jesus was in a house at the time, and that the man had to be lowered through the roof by his friends due to the crowds blocking the door.

A similar cure is described in the Gospel of John as the Healing the paralytic at Bethesda [Jn 5:1-18]] and occurs at the Pool of Bethesda. In this cure Jesus also tells the man to take his mat and walk. [Jn 5:1-18]] [Mt 12:9-13]]

Women

The fringes of his garment) and was instantly healed. Jesus turned about and, when the woman came forward, said "Daughter, your faith has healed you, go in peace".

Healing the mother of Peter's wife. The Synoptics[13] describe Jesus as healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter when he visited Simon's house in Capernaum, around the time of Jesus recruiting Simon as an Apostle (Mark has it just after the calling of Simon, while Luke has it just before). The Synoptics imply that this led other people to seek out Jesus.

Luke 13:10-17. While teaching in a synagogues on a Sabbath, Jesus cured a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years and could not stand straight at all.

Men

dropsy at the house of a prominent Pharisee on the Sabbath. Jesus justified the cure by asking: "If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?"

In the Healing of the man with a withered hand miracle,[14] the Synoptics state that Jesus entered a synagogue on Sabbath, and found a man with a withered hand there, whom Jesus healed, having first challenged the people present to decide what was lawful for Sabbath—to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill. The Gospel of Mark adds that this angered the Pharisees so much that they started to contemplate killing Jesus.

The Healing the deaf mute of Decapolis miracle only appears in the Gospel of Mark. [7:31-37]] The Gospel states that Jesus went to the Decapolis and met a man there who was deaf and mute, and cured him. Specifically, Jesus first touched the man's ears, and touched his tongue after spitting, and then said Ephphatha!, an Aramaic word meaning Be opened.

Other

The Healing the Centurion's servant miracle is reported in John 4:46-54 has a similar account at Capernaum, but states that it was the son of a royal official who was cured at a distance.

Gennesaret all those who touch his cloak are healed.

Jesus exorcising a mute, Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Exorcisms

According to the three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus performed many exorcisms of demoniacs. These incidents are not mentioned in the Gospel of John. Jesus pointed to his ability to cast out devils as a sign of his Messiahship, and he empowered his disciples to do the same in his name.[15]

The seven major exorcism accounts in the Synoptic Gospels which have details, and imply specific teachings, are:

  • Exorcism at the Synagogue in Capernaum, where Jesus exorcised an evil spirit who cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!".[16]
  • Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac, where people had tried to chain up a demoniac but he had escaped, and lived in tombs, and roamed the hills, crying and cutting himself. Jesus asked the man's name, and was told by the man/devils that his name was Legion, "...for we are many". The devils asked to be expelled into a group of swine, which Jesus allowed, and thereafter the swine fell into the lake and drowned. The swine keepers told the townsfolk what had happened, and when the townsfolk saw that the man was sane, they besought Jesus to leave "for they were taken with great fear". The man, on the other hand, informed the whole of the Decapolis what had happened. There are some discrepancies about this particular exorcism; both Mark and Luke only mention one man who was possessed. Matthew saw two men whom Jesus freed from demoniac possession.[17]
  • Exorcising the Canaanite woman's daughter, appears in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30. The woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter, but Jesus said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel". The woman replied, "Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table", whereupon Jesus told her that her daughter was healed, and when the woman returned home she found that this was true.[18]
  • Luke 11:14-23. Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, so that he could both talk and see. People were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" But the Pharisees said that it is only by Beelzebul, that he drives out demons, but Jesus rebuked them.
  • The miracle of Luke 4:40-41. In this miracle Jesus healed people and cast out many devils who knew he was Christ.
  • The miracle of Jesus healing two blind men. A man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the devil was cast out, the man who had been mute spoke.

There are also brief mentions of other exorcisms, e.g.:

  • Jesus had cast seven devils out of Luke 8:2)
  • Jesus continued to cast out devils even though Luke 13:31-32)

Resurrection of the dead

All four Canonical Gospels report Jesus' own resurrection from the dead but the Gospels also relate three other occasions on which Jesus calls a dead person back to life:

  • Daughter of Jairus. [Mk 5:21-43]] Jairus, a major patron of a synagogue, asks Jesus to heal his daughter, but while Jesus is on his way, men tell Jairus that his daughter has died. Jesus says she was only sleeping and wakes her with the words Talitha kum!
  • The Young Man from Nain. [Lk 7:11-17]] A young man, the son of a widow, is brought out for burial in Nain. Jesus sees her, and his pity causes him to tell her not to cry. Jesus approaches the coffin and tells the man inside to get up, and he does so.
  • The Raising of Lazarus. [Jn 11:1-44]] A close friend of Jesus who had been dead for four days is brought back to life when Jesus commands him to get up.

Control over nature

The Gospels include eight pre-resurrection accounts concerning Jesus' power over nature:

  • Turning Water into Wine—at a wedding, when the host runs out of wine, the host's servants fill vessels with water at Jesus' command, then a sample is drawn out and taken to the master of the banquet who pronounces the content of the vessels as the best wine of the banquet.
  • The miracle of draught of fishes [Lk 5:1-11]] takes place early in Jesus's ministry and results in Saints Peter, James, son of Zebedee and John joining Jesus as his Apostles.
  • The Feeding of the 5000 and of the 4000 men—Jesus, praying to God and using only a few loaves of bread and several fish, feeds thousands of men, along with an unspecified number of women and children; there are even a number of baskets of leftovers afterward.
  • Walking on water—Jesus walked on a lake to meet a boat.
  • Transfiguration of Jesus—Jesus climbed a mountain and was changed so that his face glowed.[20]
  • Calming the storm - during a storm, the disciples woke Jesus, and he rebuked the storm causing it to become calm. Jesus then rebukes the disciples for lack of faith.
  • Finding a Coin in the fish's mouth is reported in Matthew 17:24-27.[21]
  • The Cursing of the Fig Tree—Jesus cursed a fig tree, and it withered.

Post-resurrection miracles attributed to Jesus are also recorded in the Gospels:

  • A similar miracle to the Resurrection of Jesus.

Setting and Interpretations

Cultural background

Miracles were widely believed in around the time of Jesus. Gods and demigods such as Heracles (better known by his Roman name, Hercules), Asclepius (a Greek physician who became a god) and Isis of Egypt all were thought to have healed the sick and overcome death (i.e. have raised people from the dead).[22] Some thought that mortal men, if sufficiently famous and virtuous, could do likewise; there were myths about philosophers like Pythagoras and Empedocles calming storms at sea, chasing away pestilences, and being greeted as gods,[23] and similarly some Jews believed that Elisha the Prophet had cured lepers and restored the dead.[24] The achievements of the 1st century Apollonius of Tyana, though occurring after Jesus' life, were used by a 3rd-century opponent of the Christians used him to argue that Christ was neither original nor divine (Eusebius of Caesaria argued against the charge).[25]

The first Gospels were written against this background of Hellenistic and Jewish belief in miracles and other wondrous acts as signs - the term is explicitly used in the Gospel of John to describe Jesus' miracles - seen to be validating the credentials of divine wise men.[26]

Traditional Christian interpretation

Many Christians believe Jesus' miracles were historical events and that his miraculous works were an important part of his life, attesting to his divinity and the Hypostatic union, i.e., the dual natures of Jesus as God and Man.[27] They see Jesus' experiences of hunger, weariness, and death as evidences of his humanity, and miracles as evidences of his divinity.[28][29][30]

Christian authors also view the miracles of Jesus not merely as acts of power and omnipotence, but as works of love and mercy, performed not with a view to awe by omnipotence, but to show compassion for sinful and suffering humanity.[27][31] And each miracle involves specific teachings.[32]

Since according to the

"Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

In Christian teachings, the miracles were as much a vehicle for Jesus' message as his words. Many emphasize the importance of faith, for instance in Cleansing ten lepers, [Lk 17:19]] Jesus did not say: "My power has saved you" but said:[34][35]

"Rise and go; your faith has saved you."

Similarly, in the Walking on Water miracle, Apostle Peter learns an important lesson about faith in that as his faith wavers, he begins to sink. [Mt 14:34-36]] [36]

Christian authors have discussed the miracles of Jesus at length and assigned specific motives to each miracle, e.g., authors Pentecost and Danilson suggest that the Walking on Water miracle centered on the relationship of Jesus with his apostles, rather than their peril or the miracle itself. And that the miracle was specifically designed by Jesus to teach the apostles that when encountering obstacles, they need to rely on their faith in Christ, first and foremost.[37]

Authors Donahue and Harrington argue that the Daughter of Jairus miracle teaches that faith as embodied in the bleeding woman can exist in seemingly hopeless situations, and that through belief, healing can be achieved, in that when the woman is healed, Jesus tells her "Your faith has healed you".[38]

Liberal Christianity

Liberal Christians place less emphasis on miraculous events associated with the life of Jesus than on his teachings. The effort to remove superstitious elements from Christian faith dates to intellectual reformist Christians such as Erasmus and the Deists in the 15th–17th centuries.[39] In the 19th century, self-identified liberal Christians sought to elevate Jesus' humane teachings as a standard for a world civilization freed from cultic traditions and traces of pagan belief in the supernatural.[40] The debate over whether a belief in miracles was mere superstition or essential to accepting the divinity of Christ constituted a crisis within the 19th-century church, for which theological compromises were sought.[41]

Attempts to account for miracles through scientific or rational explanation were mocked even at the turn of the 19th–20th century.[42] A belief in the authenticity of miracles was one of five tests established in 1910 by the Presbyterian Church to distinguish true believers from what they saw as false professors of faith such as "educated, 'liberal' Christians."[43]

Contemporary liberal Christians may prefer to read Jesus' miracles as metaphorical narratives for understanding the power of God.[44] Not all theologians with liberal inclinations reject the possibility of miracles, but may reject the polemicism that denial or affirmation entails.[45]

Other views

Bart Ehrman states that what makes science possible is the assumption of the uniformity of the laws of nature, but given that miracles are by definition events that go against the usual way nature works, historians are virtually unable to confirm or refute reports of Jesus' miracles.[46]

According to the Jesus Seminar Jesus probably cured some sick people,[47] but described Jesus' healings in modern terms, relating them to "psychosomatic maladies." They found six of the nineteen healings to be "probably reliable".[48] Most participants in the Jesus Seminar believe Jesus practiced exorcisms, as Josephus, Philostratus, and others wrote about other contemporary exorcists, but do not believe the gospel accounts were accurate reports of specific events or that demons exist.[49] They did not find any of the nature miracles to be historical events.[48]

Harmony of miracles in the four Gospels

Over the centuries Christian authors have reviewed, discussed and analyzed the miracles attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. In most cases, authors associate each miracle with specific teachings that reflect the message of Jesus.[50] Miracles performed by Jesus are mentioned in two sections of the Quran (suras 3:49 and 5:110) in broad strokes with little detail or comment.[51]

The exact number of miracles depends on how miracles are counted, e.g., in the Daughter of Jairus miracle a woman is cured and a child is resurrected, but the two events are narrated within the same paragraphs of the Gospels, and are usually dealt with together, and the fact that the child was 12 years old and the woman had been ill for 12 years has been the subject of various interpretations.

It is not always clear when two reported miracles refer to the same event. For example, in the Healing the Centurion's servant, the Gospels of Matthew [8:5-13]] and Luke [7:1-10]] narrate how Jesus healed the servant of a Roman Centurion in Capernaum at a distance. The Gospel of John [4:46-54]] has a similar account at Capernaum, but states that it was the son of a royal official who was cured at a distance.

Supernatural events such as the Annunciation reported in the Gospels prior to the start of the ministry of Jesus, and events following his Resurrection are generally not included in the list of miracles by Jesus, and neither is the use of "supernatural knowledge" such as in the case of the Woman at the well.[52][53][54]

It should be noted that the Gospel of John [20:30]] specifically states that the miracles it recorded were but a portion of the miracles that Jesus actually performed.

A sample Gospel harmony for the miracles based on the list of key episodes in the Canonical Gospels is presented in the table below. For the sake of consistency, this table is automatically sub-selected from the main harmony table in the Gospel harmony article, based on the list of key episodes in the Canonical Gospels.

Number Event Matthew Mark Luke John
1 Marriage at Cana John 2:1-11
2 Exorcism at the Synagogue in Capernaum Mark 1:21-28 Luke 4:31-37
3 Miraculous draught of fishes Luke 5:1-11
4 Young Man from Nain Luke 7:11-17
5 Cleansing a leper Matthew 8:1-4 Mark 1:40-45 Luke 5:12-16
6 The Centurion's Servant Matthew 8:5-13 Luke 7:1-10 John 4:46-54
7 Healing the mother of Peter's wife Matthew 8:14-17 Mark 1:29-34 Luke 4:38-41
8 Exorcising at sunset Matthew 8:16-17 Mark 1:32-34 Luke 4:40-41
9 Calming the storm Matthew 8:23-27 Mark 4:35-41 Luke 8:22-25
10 Gerasenes demonic Matthew 8:28-34 Mark 5:1-20 Luke 8:26-39
11 Paralytic at Capernaum Matthew 9:1-8 Mark 2:1-12 Luke 5:17-26
12 Daughter of Jairus Matthew 9:18-26 Mark 5:21-43 Luke 8:40-56
13 The Bleeding Woman Matthew 9:20-22 Mark 5:24-34 Luke 8:43-48
14 Two Blind Men at Galilee Matthew 9:27-31
15 Exorcising a mute Matthew 9:32-34
16 Paralytic at Bethesda John 5:1-18
17 Man with withered Hand Matthew 12:9-13 Mark 3:1-6 Luke 6:6-11
18 Exorcising the blind and mute man Matthew 12:22-28 Mark 3:20-30 Luke 11:14-23
19 An Infirm Woman Luke 13:10-17
20 Feeding the 5000 Matthew 14:13-21 Mark 6:31-34 Luke 9:10-17 John 6:5-15
21 Walking on water Matthew 14:22-33 Mark 6:45-52 John 6:16-21
22 Healing in Gennesaret Matthew 14:34-36 Mark 6:53-56
23 Canaanite woman's daughter Matthew 15:21-28 Mark 7:24-30
24 Deaf mute of Decapolis Mark 7:31-37
25 Feeding the 4000 Matthew 15:32-39 Mark 8:1-9
26 Blind Man of Bethsaida Mark 8:22-26
27 Transfiguration of Jesus Matthew 17:1-13 Mark 9:2-13 Luke 9:28-36
28 Boy possessed by a demon Matthew 17:14-21 Mark 9:14-29 Luke 9:37-49
29 Coin in the fish's mouth Matthew 17:24-27
30 Man with dropsy Luke 14:1-6
31 Cleansing ten lepers Luke 17:11-19
32 The Blind at Birth John 9:1-12
33 Blind near Jericho Matthew 20:29-34 Mark 10:46-52 Luke 18:35-43
34 Raising of Lazarus John 11:1-44
35 Cursing the fig tree Matthew 21:18-22 Mark 11:12-14
36 Healing the ear of a servant Luke 22:49-51
37 Catch of 153 fish John 21:1-24

List of miracles found outside the New Testament

Accounts of Jesus performing miracles are also found outside the New Testament. Later, 2nd century texts, called Infancy Gospels, narrate Jesus performing miracles during his childhood.

Miracle Sources
Rich young man raised from the dead Secret Gospel of Mark 1
Water controlled and purified Infancy Thomas 2.2
Made birds of clay and brought them to life Infancy Thomas 2.3
Resurrected dead playmate Zeno Infancy Thomas 9
Healed a woodcutter's foot Infancy Thomas 10
Held water in his cloak Infancy Thomas 11
Harvested 100 bushels of wheat from a single seed Infancy Thomas 12
Stretched a board that was short for carpentry Infancy Thomas 13
Resurrected a teacher he earlier struck down Infancy Thomas 14-15
Healed James' viper bite Infancy Thomas 16
Resurrected a dead child Infancy Thomas 17
Resurrected a dead man Infancy Thomas 18
Miraculous Virgin Birth verified by midwife Infancy James 19-20

Gallery of miracles

Cures

Exorcisms

Resurrection of the dead

Control over nature

See also

Christianity portal

References

Bibliography

  • Clowes, John, 1817, 'The Miracles of Jesus Christ' published by J. Gleave, Manchester, UK
  • Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar, 1998 The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus. Polebridge Press, San Francisco. ISBN 0-06-062978-9
  • Kilgallen, John J., 1989 A Brief Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, Paulist Press, ISBN 0-8091-3059-9
  • List of Jesus' Miracles and Biblical References
  • Lockyer, Herbert, 1988 All the Miracles of the Bible ISBN 0-310-28101-6
  • Maguire, Robert, 1863 The Miracles of Christ published by Weeks and Co. London
  • Miller, Robert J. Editor, 1994 The Complete Gospels, Polebridge Press, ISBN 0-06-065587-9
  • The Miracles of Jesus BBC documentary
  • Trench, Richard Chenevix, Notes on the miracles of our Lord, London : John W. Parker, 1846
  • Van der Loos, H., 1965 The Miracles of Jesus, E.J. Brill Press, Netherlands