What is a miracle?
When Christians talk about a miracle, they mean an event that is not ‘normal’ – that is, one that should not be able to happen according to the laws of nature.
The Gospels describe 35 miracles that Jesus performed. Over half of these 35 stories are about Jesus healing sick people. Others describe Jesus casting out demons from people. On three occasions, Jesus brought dead people back to life. The rest of the stories show Jesus’ power over things – changing water into wine, feeding a great crowd with very little food, walking on water, calming a storm. This is apparently just a snapshot. John writes at the end of his gospel,
‘Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.’
Jesus isn’t the only person in the Bible to perform miracles. In the Old Testament, God helps Moses part the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross and the prophet Elijah brought somebody back from the dead. In the New Testament the disciples are also recorded as healing people. In one story, St Paul (one of the first church leaders) prayed over people’s handkerchiefs and the people got well again! (Acts 19:12)
These miracles are important for Christians. The gospel writers included them to help people believe that Jesus was more than just a man. But they are also there to help show people what God is like – what He cares about, what He chooses to do for people – and to show what He wants people to do in response. For Christians, miracles are recorded to show that God is at work in His world then and today, and to encourage people to believe in God for themselves.Bookmark