What are miracles and what do Christians believe they tell us about Jesus?
A miracle is something that happens which can't be explained by natural means. An example of this might be when someone is prayed for and suddenly get better. In the New Testament Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell of 35 times when Jesus performed miracles.
They also say that there were many more miracles that they didn't write about. Christians believe that miracles show us who Jesus is. Work your way through this timeline to explore this idea further.
Miracles in the Gospels
In the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describe 35 times when Jesus performed miracles and tell us that there were also many more than these. As 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.’
In the New Testament, miracles are seen as signposts that point to who Jesus really is and the power that he has. There were many eyewitnesses to the miracles as they were often performed with crowds present. More than half of the 35 miracles were about Jesus healing the sick. Three times, he raised people from the dead. The other stories are about Jesus' power over nature - changing water into wine, feeding a great crowd with very little food, walking on water, calming a storm, etc.
Take a look at some examples of the kind of miracles Jesus performed.
Healing Miracle - Jesus heals a blind man
Jesus and his friends came to Bethsaida, where some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. After spitting on the man's eyes, Jesus placed his hands on him and asked him, “Can you see anything?”
The man looked up and said, “Yes, I can see people, but they look like trees walking around.” Jesus again placed his hands on the man's eyes. This time the man's eyesight returned, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:22-26
Healing and resurrection miracle - Jesus heals a lady who is bleeding and an official's daughter
A Jewish official came to Jesus, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and place your hands on her, and she will live.” So Jesus got up and followed him, and his disciples went along with him.
A woman who had suffered from severe bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If only I touch his cloak, I will get well.”
Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, my daughter! Your faith has made you well.” At that very moment the woman became well.
Then Jesus went into the official's house. When he saw everyone crying and making a noise he said, “Get out, everybody! The little girl is not dead—she is only sleeping!” Then they all started making fun of him. But as soon as the people had been put out, Jesus went into the girl's room and took hold of her hand, and she got up. Matthew 9:18-26
Nature miracle - Jesus feeds a great crowd of people
It had been a long day and a great crowd of people had followed Jesus to hear his teaching. When it was getting late, his disciples came to him and said, “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. Send the people away, and let them go to the nearby farms and villages in order to buy themselves something to eat.”
“You yourselves give them something to eat,” Jesus answered.
They asked, “Do you want us to go and spend two hundred silver coins on bread in order to feed them?”
So Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have? Go and see.”
When they found out, they told him, “Five loaves and also two fish.”
Jesus then told his disciples to make all the people divide into groups and sit down on the green grass. So the people sat down in rows, in groups of a hundred and groups of fifty. Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate and had enough Mark 6:30-44
Nature miracle - Jesus walks on water
After the crowd had been fed Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to Bethsaida, on the other side of the lake, while he sent the crowd away. After saying good-bye to the people, he went away to a hill to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, while Jesus was alone on land. He saw that his disciples were straining at the oars, because they were rowing against the wind; so sometime between three and six o'clock in the morning, he came to them, walking on the water. He was going to pass them by, but they saw him walking on the water. “It's a ghost!” they thought, and screamed. They were all terrified when they saw him.
Jesus spoke to them at once, “Courage!” he said. “It is I. Don't be afraid!” Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. The disciples were completely amazed. Mark:6:45-52
Resurrection Miracle - Lazarus is raised from the dead
One day, sadly, Jesus' close friend, Lazarus, died. Lazarus' two sisters had sent for Jesus to come and heal Lazarus but he had not done so. Eventually Jesus did go to Lazarus's house and after speaking to Lazarus' sisters he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone placed at the entrance. “Take the stone away!” Jesus ordered.
Martha, answered, “There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!”
Jesus said to her, “Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believed?” They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and prayed. After he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” He came out, his hands and feet wrapped in grave cloths, and with a cloth around his face. “Untie him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go.” John 11: 1-44
For Christians, the miracle that is at the centre of their faith is Jesus' own resurrection. Christians believe that Jesus was crucified and buried but that three days later he rose from the dead. For Christians this is a sign of both God's love but also His amazing power that even conquers death. There is a famous passage in the Bible that teaches about how important Christians see Jesus' resurrection. It says:
“Death is destroyed; victory is complete!”