Implications of the Miracles
Miracles performed by Jesus of Nazareth reported by the Gospels could demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. At least some Jewish authorities agree with the Gospels’ accounts of miracles and wonders such as Encyclopedia Judaica noting they define him as a “miracle maker”:
“…Matthew, Mark, and Luke present a reasonably faithful picture of Jesus as a Jew of his time. The picture of Jesus contained in them is not so much of a redeemer of mankind as of a Jewish miracle maker and preacher. The Jesus portrayed in these three Gospels is, therefore, the historical Jesus.” – Encyclopedia Judaica
Jewish sage Rabbi Maimonides, in his premier Jewish work Mishneh Torah (circa 1180 AD), commented on miracles performed by the Messiah. Performing “miracles and wonders” was not proof of the Messiah because miracles are not a requirement for the Messiah although it is prophesied that he will perform miracles.
Mishneh Torah launched Maimonides into celebrity status causing a great response from the Jewish community who sent him letters with questions. His responses to some of these letters are known as Responsa (Teshuvot).
One question was posed by Rabbi Jacob al-Fayumi of Yemen regarding the Isaiah 52-53 parashah prophecy. Known as the Epistle Concerning Yemen, Maimonides’ Responsa clarified his views about “the signs and wonders” that Isaiah prophesied would be performed by the Messiah:
“…there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and the signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin…”
“…and so confounded at the wonders which they will see him work, that they will lay their hands to their mouth; in the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which the kings will hearken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived.” – Rabbi Maimonides
Various, often unique, reports of miracles, signs and wonders based on witness accounts are recounted by the authors of the Gospels. Some allegations claim Christian conspirators devised the Gospels as fictional books making Jesus appear to be the Messiah. Comparing all four Gospels through literary analysis reveals a different story.
Accounts of miracles have less in common with each other than they have in common. A total of 35 miracles are recorded as having occurred before the crucifixion of Jesus, but only one these miracles is common to all four – the feeding of the 5000. One of the most famous miracles is Jesus walking on water and it does not even appear in Luke!6]
Less than a third of the miracles, only 10, are commonly recounted by the three Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Nearly half of the 17 miracles performed before the crucifixion are uniquely detailed by a given Gospel author – 3 by Matthew, 2 by Mark, 6 by Luke and 6 by John. Both instances of Jesus resurrecting the dead are exclusively narrated, first in Luke and second in John.
All four Gospels contain accounts of Jewish religious leaders wanting retribution for Jesus when he performed miracles on the Sabbath. Jewish leaders acknowledged miracles had occurred in order to criticize when they were performed. Among them, even with today’s standards of modern medicine, are truly miracles: restoring a withered hand; healing a woman with an 18-year infirmity that kept her doubled over; healing a man who had been an invalid for 38 years; and restoring sight to a man born blind.
Detailed by all four Gospels, the greatest miracle story ever told is the unique self-resurrection from the dead by Jesus of Nazareth – the sole basis of Christianity. No credible evidence has ever been produced to debunk the miracle of the Resurrection.
Often overlooked are the miracles, signs and wonders recounted after the Resurrection. Later the same day of the Resurrection, Luke includes the eyewitness statement of Cleopas when the resurrected Jesus appeared to him and his traveling partner on the road to Emmaus, sat down to dinner and prayed with them, then vanished before their eyes.
Later that evening, Mark and Luke described when the resurrected Jesus suddenly appeared inside a locked room terrifying those present. After eating and speaking with the gathering, he instantly disappeared.
John exclusively reports it happened again 8 days later, with the doubting Disciple Thomas present, he was allowed to touch the healed wounds of Jesus. John described two more miracles that occurred days later at the Sea of Tiberius (Sea of Galilee).
Outside of the Gospels in the Book of Acts written by the author of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus rose in the sky and disappeared into a cloud. The author wrote that the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth attested to the fact that God was manifesting Himself through Jesus. Quoting the Disciple Peter:
Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know ––” NKJV
Do miracles attest to the reality that Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God as the Messiah…and, if they do, what does that say about Gospels’ claim of the greatest and unique miracle, the Resurrection?
Updated November 28, 2022.
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