There are two New Testament words for miracles. One word means power, and we named dynamite from this. The second word means sign. The miracles of Jesus demonstrate His power and signify that He is the Messiah, the Great King, and Almighty God. Miracles also often have a more profound significance. For example, the cleansing of the leper pictures the forgiveness of sinners.
There are a large number of miracles recorded in (Matthew 8 and 9). There are ten miracles named, but also we see numerous others, as Jesus ministered in Galilee (Matthew 4:23-25; 8:16; 9:35). We must not overlook the general statement given about Jesus healing and only focus on the specific examples that highlight the miraculous power of Jesus.
The impact Jesus had on sickness in Galilee was staggering. His miracles were instantaneous and often creative. He not only removed illness, but He reversed the ravages that these diseases had left on people.
We live in a time when medical knowledge and help has reduced some of the impacts of illness. It is hard for us to imagine what life was like for a culture that had only the most rudimentary medical knowledge and care. Life was short and often painful. Those who recovered were often left disfigured and disabled. There were few if any cures for illness.
Jesus ministering healing would have shaken Palestine to its core. No wonder people came from near and far with their sicknesses. It is not surprising that crowds flocked around Jesus and gave great attention to him.
His enemies could not deny the miracles He performed. They would have dearly liked to have proven these to be false but there was no ambiguity or possibility they did not happen.
Ten Amazing Miracles (Matthew 8 & 9)
- Cleansing the leper (Matthew 8:1-4)
- Healing the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13)
- Healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15)
- Stilling the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
- The Gadarene demons (Matthew 8:28-34)
- Healing and forgiving the paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8)
- Jairus’ daughter resurrected (Matthew 9:18-26)
- The woman with the haemorrhage healed (Matthew 9:20-22)
- Two blind men healed (Matthew 9:32-34)
- The dumb man delivered (Matthew 9:32-34)
There are times and seasons for miracles; they do not happen all the time. There were no miracles for the first thirty years of Jesus life. The first miracle He did was to change the water into wine, and the second was the healing of a nobleman’s son (John 4:54). There were times when many miracles happened in the Old Testament, and other times when nothing happened. We need to question the teaching on continuous miracles in the light of this.
Miracles do not create faith. No one believes because they see a miracle. The multitudes of Israel did not receive Jesus when they had seen and acknowledged His miracles. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Miracles can confirm the preaching of the Word of God but do not of themselves create faith (Mark 16:20). Miracles never replaced the teaching of Christ, but they may have encouraged people to listen to what He said.
The Apostles response to sickness was not always to seek healing and miracles. Paul urged Timothy to drink a little wine for his many infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23). Jesus only did the things He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). Perhaps we would experience less failure when we pray for people if we first consider what God wants to do in a situation.
There are many counterfeits and false claims of miracles. Not everyone testifying to the miraculous is speaking the truth. Many claim they have been abducted by aliens and most of us would rightly question this. We need to be very careful with claims of the miraculous. Marjoe Gortner was a famous child evangelist who claimed many healings and miracles. He later renounced what he had done and said, both as a child and an adult. It was a con which made him and his parents a lot of money. He acknowledged that many of the things he claimed were false. We must not forget our common sense in our desire for the miraculous. Testimonies do not prove anything but the basis for our belief has to be what God says in the Bible.
Healings and miracles are not the same. No one would get well unless God healed them. A medieval doctor said that he bandaged the wound, and God healed. Healings become miracles when they are instantaneous or creative in terms of repairing the damage sickness has done. Healings are miraculous when incurable sickness goes.
When Jesus did a miracle, He often tried to keep this quiet (Matthew 8:4). How different our modern-day church culture where every possibility of the miraculous is paraded and advertised. If we truly follow Christ, we should question this trait.
So many are disappointed in our modern healing and miracle meetings. It is only a small number of those attending such meetings that claim healing. I have witnessed thousands of distressed and sick people going away disappointed, some who had travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles. This is not New Testament healings and miracles.
Miracles in the New Testament were instantaneous, not gradual. The man touched twice when he saw is often quoted as a reason for expecting people to be healed gradually (Mark 8:24). Even this happened very quickly and was not over a prolonged period of time. It may be that two healings took place. In the first instance, the man received his sight. The second healing perhaps involved correcting the short-sightedness he also had. People coming back week after week for healing prayer in the hope of gradual recovery has no Biblical foundation.
People do not lose their healing in the New Testament. There is an idea that some people have been healed one week and then lost their healing at another point in the near future. This is not New Testament healing.
Not everyone in the church moved in healings and miracles. The whole point of Paul discussing the gifts of the Spirit was to emphasise that different people had different callings and giftings (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). We should question the idea that anyone can move in the gift of healing or miracles. We are in danger of things becoming a free for all with confusion and hurt given to the most vulnerable.
Jesus never condemned anyone for being sick (John 9:1-3). Nor should we blame people for their infirmities. A hurtful accusation is that people have not been healed because they do not believe enough. Many people were healed who did not believe. The dead certainly did not believe before Jesus was willing to resurrect. Faith and miracles often did not go together. If the disciples had needed faith in the storm, they would have drowned (Mark 8:25) and the five thousand would have died from hunger (Mark 6:37). I have known some sick people who have avoided church meetings because of the feeling of condemnation. They had to endure repeated prayed without healing.
Jesus was motivated by compassion when He healed and worked miracles (Matthew 14:14). Love should be our motivation in dealing with people’s needs. Too often, we try to prove superior spirituality by playing the miracle and healing game.
Jesus and the Apostles did not pray for healing to occur, they commanded healing, and it happened (Acts 3:6). We need to question the practice of praying for people’s healing as a way of ministering to them in the light of Biblical practice.
It is possible to get excited about miracles and healings but miss the point of these, which is to alert us to the truth of the Gospel. In Jesus’ time, multitudes hunted after miracles but rejected Christ. This tendency has been repeated throughout church history. There were many pilgrimages in the Middle Ages to the shrines of the saints where healing was reputed to take place. Currently, we have similar patterns of behaviour, for example, the tendency of Charismatics to go to where they consider miracles are happening.
- How do Jesus’ miracles differ from claims of miracles made now-a-days?
- How can the Bible help us judge real miracles from counterfeits and cons?
- Is experience a reliable guide?