Those who sincerely consider Jesus find that Jesus’s miracles are reasonable to believe. Are people reasonable to believe that Jesus did miracles? For unbelievers, the various eyewitness experiences of Jesus’s miracles are peculiar phenomena in history for which skeptics cannot explain.
Many critics exclude the probability of miracles and God’s existence. If God exists, then miracles exist. Unbelievers assert that miracles are not possible and that natural explanations should receive preference. The weakness of this point is that the existence of the universe would require the universe coming from a cause beyond the universe and its natural laws. That supernatural cause is either a mindless generator or a mindful Creator. Either way, the universe exists via a supernatural cause and that cause can act upon the universe beyond its laws.
The universe is a miraculous effect to the believer and an unexplained phenomenon for unbelievers. The first cause for the beginning of the universe exists beyond the universe with greater creative power than anything of universal existence. Unbelievers assert the possibility that the order of the universe could have arisen by time and chance. To the believer, the appeal to possibility remains a logical fallacy with the best explanation being that God created the universe.
Jesus’s Miracles Are Essential to Faith
Jesus’s miracles are essential to His ministry and to the believer’s faith. In the Gospel of John, the author expressed that he recorded Jesus’s miracles for the reader to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and so the reader can have eternal life (John 20:30–31). In the Gospel of John, the evangelist depicted Jesus doing miraculous works as signs to show that God sent Him. In John 5, Jesus declared, “For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me” (5:36b). In John 10, Jesus revealed that His works testify of who He is (John 10:25). Because of these works, Jesus declared that those who do not believe in Him are not His sheep (10:26). Furthermore, Christ proclaimed that He and the Father are one (10:30).
In the Gospels, God’s power worked through Jesus to do miracles. The Gospel of Mark presents,
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. (Matt 4:23–25 ESV)
How did Jesus of Nazareth draw crowds? The movement to follow Jesus existed as crowds followed Him. Why would crowds follow anyone even Jesus into the countryside? Critical scholars credit Jesus with “miracles” as psychosomatic healing. However, the Gospels present that Jesus did more than convince people that they were well. The character of Jesus’s miracles attest that He did supernatural miracles.
Miracles and the Ancient World
Jesus’s miracles were unique by the great number of miracles that the Gospels recorded in contrast to the rest of the Bible and ancient world. Jesus’s miracles were selfless unlike the illusions of the ancient world. In the ancient classical world, people did illusions for pay, influence, and authority unlike Jesus of Nazareth. Ancient people did illusions in ceremonies and rituals also unlike Jesus.
The type of miracles attributed to Christ were unknown in the ancient classical world. Ancient people did not simply believe any superstition. The Greco-Roman world rejected resurrection — the bodily rising alive from death (cf. Acts 17:32). However, the bodily resurrection of the dead was essential to the Jewish faith. The resurrection of Jesus is the central belief of the Christian faith. The miracles attributed to Jesus were Jewish in nature and not pagan. Jesus’s miracles stood apart from all others.
Evidences of Jesus’s Miracles
What is the best explanation of Jesus working supernatural miracles. The Scriptures attest to the following historical points of Jesus doing miracles:
- Preexisting scriptures describe the messianic age as a time of miraculous healings (Isaiah 35:5–6; 42:6–7).
- The Gospels exist as eyewitness accounts of those who experienced Jesus’s miracles (Luke 1:1–3; John 20:30–31).
- The character of miracles credited to Jesus were selfless in nature, more numerous, and unique unlike anything else in the Bible and the ancient world (Matthew 4:23–25).
- Jesus’s opponents did not challenge that Jesus did miracles but they did challenge the source of that power (Mark 3:22).
- Jesus defended the source of His ability to work miraculous signs (Mark 9:14–29; cf. Matthew 12:11–12; Luke 8:43–48; 10:13).
- Numerous people believed the preaching of Jesus’s apostles because they either were witnesses or knew the reports that Jesus did miracles (Acts 2:22; 3:16; 10:36–39).
- Various people witnessed Jesus alive after His death and burial and those witnesses started the church (1 Corinthians 15:1–11).
What explanation has the power to account for these facts about Jesus’s miracles?
Evidence of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle
Critical scholars recognize that the first converts sincerely believed their experiences of Jesus risen from the dead. Sources predating the Christian Scriptures include Paul’s creedal tradition and Peter’s sermon at Pentecost attest to how the church started because various witnesses experienced Jesus risen from the dead (Acts 2:14–36; 1 Corinthians 15:3–8).
Historians recognize that 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 is an ancient creed tracing to the beginning of the church and to experiences of Jesus’s resurrection from the time immediately following Jesus’s death on the cross. Early Christians recorded those who believed that Jesus bodily rose from the dead and experienced touching Jesus’s scars and ate with him after Jesus resurrected (Luke 23:36–43; John 20:19–29; 21:4–14).
Historians recognize that a persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus, experienced an appearance of Jesus resurrected and he converted to the faith (1 Corinthians 15:3–8). Likewise, historians admit that Jesus’s brothers disbelieved, and they came to believe and became preachers by experiencing Jesus’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:18–19). Jesus’s resurrection has the greatest explanative power to account for the early witnesses Jesus’s resurrection that changed their way of living.
Many people would not believe a miracle even if each person experienced the event for oneself. As Jesus depicted the rich man speaking with Abraham,
“And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:30–31; cf. John 8:42–47).
Believers love and follow Jesus with all their mind and affections, and they find Jesus’s miracles to be compelling and life-changing evidence. Lives change in apparent ways when believers come to Jesus trusting Him for eternal life, turning from their sins, and rising from baptism into newness of life (Romans 6:3–5; Colossians 2:12–13). If anyone wants to experience that change into a new life, they can believe and follow the faith that Jesus is the Christ.