Throughout the history of the earth God has used miracles to capture the attention of humanity. These wonderous events reveal the existence of something greater not governed by the scientific laws of nature. God employs miracles in order to communicate with people and ultimately guide His creation into a relationship with Him.
In the Old Testament, God performed many miracles and also empowered various people to perform them. Some notable examples include Moses parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14); God providing the Israelites with manna to eat in the wilderness (Exodus 16); Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:8–30); and Elijah calling down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:16–46).
In the New Testament, Jesus performs countless miracles and empowers His disciples to perform some as well. Many of the miracles of Jesus are recorded in the Gospels. However, John tells us that Jesus' great works were so numerous, "the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25). Jesus didn't perform miracles for show. The purpose of these miraculous signs was to point people to the truth. On the one hand they demonstrated the authority of Jesus as the Son of God. The miracles of Jesus identified Him as the Messiah. They gave proof to Jesus' claim, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). On the other hand, the miracles of Jesus practically met people's needs, showing God's mercy and love towards His creation. These two purposes intersect in God's greatest miracle, the resurrection of Jesus, redeeming God's relationship with His people.
The majority of Jesus' miracles involved healing. As Jesus healed people of their physical ailments, He explained their greater need for spiritual healing. He healed those who were outcast by society such as lepers and those with disabilities (Matthew 11:2–5; Luke 17; Luke 8). He approached the sick and the demon-possessed without hesitation. He could heal people up close by a single touch or far away with a simple word (Luke 7). Jesus even resurrected people from the dead (Luke 7:11–17, 22; Luke 8:52–56; John 11).
Often when Jesus healed people, He remarked that it was their faith that He could make them well that brought about their healing. While their effort to reach out to Jesus for help certainly led to their physical healing, it seems Jesus was referring to the spiritual healing that was the direct result of them putting their faith in Him (John 3:16). For example, two blind men approached Jesus and asked Him to have mercy on them. He asked them, "'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to him, 'Yes, Lord.' Then he touched their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith be it done to you. And their eyes were opened" (Matthew 9:28–30). In addition, Jesus cleansed ten lepers of their disease. One of the lepers praised God and thanked Jesus. Jesus declared, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well" (Luke 17:19). Perhaps one of the most remarkable demonstrations of faith is that of the Roman centurion. The centurion had a servant who was deathly sick. Jesus said He would come and heal him, but the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go', and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it" (Matthew 8:8–9). Jesus marveled at his response and told those around Him that He had never seen such faith as this in all of Israel (Matthew 8:10). He then told the centurion to go and his servant was healed in that instant (Matthew 8:13).
Jesus also performed other fascinating miracles. He walked on water (Matthew 14:22–33; Mark 6:45–52; John 6:16–21) and fed 5,000 men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13–21; Mark 6:30–44; John 6:1–14). Jesus filled His disciples' nets with fish (Luke 5:1–11; John 21:1–14) and turned water into wine (John 2:1–11). He cursed a fig tree so that it would whither (Mark 11:12–14, 20–25) and produced the money needed to pay tax from a fish's mouth (Matthew 17:24–27).
Many of the miracles of Jesus were symbolic of His relationship with humanity. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the story of Jesus calming a storm (Matthew 8:22–25; Mark 4:35–41; Luke 8:22–25). Jesus tells His disciples to sail across the Sea of Galilee. While He is in a deep sleep a storm begins to batter the boat. The storm is so intense that even the experienced fishermen of the group are fearing for their lives. They wake up Jesus and He immediately tells the wind and sea to be calm and the storm dissipates. He questions their lack of faith and they wonder at His power over even the wind and sea. Jesus' miracle of calming the storm not only brought comfort to His disciples, but also brings comfort to all believers. While we are in this life, we will face scary circumstances. However, we can trust that Jesus is in charge and will be with us during those times.
Just as the Israelites returned time and time again to their sinful ways despite the many miracles God did among them, many people witnessed Jesus' miracles, but could not see the truth. God continues to do miraculous things in our world. Don't ignore Him as He calls you out of the darkness and into His everlasting light.
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