THE NATURE OF MIRACLES
CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES

THE NATURE OF MIRACLES

Stilling The Storm -Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25

Three main Greek words are used in the New Testament to describe miracles. The first one is ‘dunameis’ which literally means ‘acts of power or mighty works’ which are always associated with God. The second word used is ‘terate’ which is translated ‘wonders’ The third word is ‘semeia’ which means signs. The words: ‘wonders and ‘signs’ are always used together in the New Testament.

A miracle can therefore be said to be an act of God issuing in attention-compelling results that are considered to issue from a direct act of God and which cannot be explained on the basis of what we know of the natural laws. Some miracles are called nature miracles either because Jesus employed ordinary natural everyday elements to perform them or the actions are effected on non-human entities. In essence, nature miracles are so called because they were performed directly on natural entities.

Matthew and Mark report that the miracle of stilling the storm took place in the evening. After the day’s job of teaching and healing, Jesus and his disciples crossed over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Out of physical exhaustion, Jesus fell asleep just the time that the boat was being hit by a strong storm. Apparently frightened, the disciples woke Jesus up and he rebuked the storm and it ceased instantly.

Matthew and Mark report this miracle as taking place in the evening, while Luke makes no reference as to the time of the day. Otherwise, all other details remain the same. This miracle signifies Jesus’ authority over nature.

 

Feeding Of Five Thousand -Matthew 14:13-24; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17

All the synoptic gospels are similar in their accounts of how Jesus fed the five thousand people who came to listen to him. When the apostles returned (the twelve apostles) from their daily routine of teaching and healing, Jesus took them to a quiet place, apparently to have some rest. However, the multitude knew of where they were and followed.

So Jesus decided to teach them. As evening approached, the disciples advised Jesus to send the multitude away so that they might enter the nearby villages to look for food.

However, having stayed all day, Jesus was full of compassion for the multitude, knowing they must be hungry. Upon inquiry, Jesus was told that only five loaves and two fishes brought by a lad were available. Ordering his disciples to make the multitude sit in groups of a hundred and fifty, Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fishes, broke them and gave to the disciples to distribute to the multitude. At the end, everyone of the five thousand was satisfied and the disciples gathered crumbs amounting to twelve baskets.

 

Feeding Of Four Thousand-Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9

The account of feeding of four thousand people was recorded only in Matthew and Mark. Jesus called his disciples and showed his concern for the people who had been with them for three days with nothing left to eat. The disciples asked where they would get food since they were in the wilderness. Jesus inquired for the loaves of bread available. They replied that there were seven loaves and a few fish. Jesus requested that all the people should sit down on the ground. He then took the seven loaves and the fish and thanked God for them. He broke them to pieces and gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.

They all ate and were full and when the scraps were picked up, there were seven large baskets of food left over. Jesus then sent the people home and he got into a boat and crossed over.

 

Walking On The Sea – Matthew 14:22-26; Mark 6:45-52

Unlike in the miracle of stilling the storm where Jesus was with his disciples there in the boat, in the miracle of walking on the sea, he was away as the boat was being hit by storm. After the miracle of feeding the five thousand, Jesus told his disciples to proceed to Bethsaida on boat, just across the sea, while he went to pray. AS the disciples sailed across, there arose a storm which was so fierce that it threatened to sink their boat. When Jesus became aware of this, he started to walk on the sea towards the disciples. This was during the fourth watch of the night (3-6 a.m.).

Seeing Jesus walking on the, sea, the disciples were afraid, mistaking him to be a ghost. Jesus identified himself, got into the boat and the storm ceased. This miracle signifies Jesus’ power over nature and its forces.

 

Significance Of Nature Miracles

  1. Jesus is full of compassion. The multitude having stayed for a whole day on one occasion and three days on another occasion deserved to be fed. Today, Jesus’ compassion grows higher and higher on us.
  2. Just as Jesus’ brought hope and safety to his disciples when they were about to sink, he is still able to provide us with safety and hope in times of trouble .
  3. Jesus saves. He is lord even over nature. Everything obeys him, even the storm. This is a pointer to his sovereignty.
  4. Faith is very necessary in whatever we do. Again, faith played a great role in such miracles as stilling the storm.
  5. Just as Jesus fed the multitude, he can provide us with our needs like food.
  6. Jesus can provide for us in abundance, he fed the multitude and there were left overs.

 

HEALING MIRACLES

Healing Of The Leper – Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16

The three synoptic gospels give account of this healing of the leper. As Jesus preached in Galilee, a leper came forward to him. Kneeling down before Jesus, he said: “Lord; if you will, you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). Jesus touched the man, saying: “l will, be clean.” Jesus commanded the man not to broadcast the healing, but to show himself to the priest and fulfil all ritual laws of cleansing as contained in the law of Moses. Despite Jesus’ warning to the leper, the report of his power spread and many came to hear his teaching and to be healed of their diseases.

 

Healing Of The Paralytic -Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5: 17 -26

Jesus came back to Capernaum. People got to know of his arrival and the house where he stayed was full of people and He preached the word to them. Four men came with a paralytic man on a mat .. They could not get to where Jesus was because of the crowd. They lowered the paralyzed man still on the mat through the roof of the house. Jesus seeing their faith said “Son, your sins are forgiven”.

The Pharisees and teachers said that Jesus was speaking. blasphemy for they said only God had the power to forgive sins. To prove to them that He had power to forgive sins, Jesus asked the paralyzed man to stand up, take up his mat and go home. The paralytic man was healed instantly and he jumped to his feet, picked up his mat and went home praising God. The people wondered and were filled with awe and they praised God.

 

The Centurion’s Servant – Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10

Jesus came to Capernaum where a Roman officer pleaded with Him to heal his paralyzed servant. Jesus promised to come and heal him. The officer then said that he was not worthy to have Jesus come into his house. He said that Jesus should just speak the word and his servant would be healed. The Centurion said that he was under the authority of his superior and he had authority over his soldiers. Jesus was amazed at his faith and said he had never seen such a faith in Israel. Jesus asked the Centurion to go home for what he believed had happened. His young servant was healed that same hour.

 

Healing Of The Demoniac – Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:120; Luke 8:26-39

This miracle took place in the region of the Gerasenes, across from Galilee. Matthew’s account says Jesus was met by two men possessed by demons while Mark and Luke narrate that it was only one man. Mark and Luke make the account more vivid by describing the possessed man as so powerful that no one could restrain or bind him as he had been bound before and he broke the chains and went back to the tombs where he dwelled.

The demons spoke through the lunatic, recognizing Jesus as the Son of God and imploring Jesus not to destroy them. The demons identified themselves as ‘Legion’ (they were many). Jesus sent them packing, sending them into the herd of pigs nearby. The pigs rushed into a lake and drowned. The man received instant healing.

 

Significance Of The Healing Miracles

  1. Faith played a significant role in the healing miracles. For us to be healed or for us to receive any miracle from God, we must show remarkable faith.
  2. Jesus has the power to forgive sins as he is God personified.
  3. Even the demons recognized and proclaimed that Jesus is Lord.
  4. Jesus has power even today, over evil spirits and diseases.
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