We live in a world where some of the most popular stories are those of superheroes and people with crazy powers. As humans, we love to be amazed and intrigued. That’s why we watch movies such as Superman or Avengers. It’s why magic shows have been around as long as they have, showcasing illusionists and why, when it’s all said and done, you don’t really want to know how the magician pulled a rabbit out of his hat.
Jesus’ ministry was full of really cool things like those. Some of the stories of what he did are things we’d expect to see from superheroes in fiction, designed to amaze and entertain.
But not only were Jesus’ miracles actual miracles – as in, he actually healed the blind and sick (John 9), actually drove out demons (Matthew 8), and actually turned plain well water into really impressive wine (John 2) – these stories aren’t fiction.
Jesus’ miracles aren’t illusions or magic tricks, and they really happened.
For shortened versions of the stories where we learn of his miracles, we can look at the Gospel of Mark.
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. | Mark 1:32-34
In three short verses Mark describes how Jesus healed “many who had various diseases” after “the whole town gathered at the door.” Now, we don’t know how big the town was, but to have an entire town gather at one door means there was a large crowd, and they all wanted to know if what Jesus had done for one woman, healing, could be done for all of them.
Spoiler alert: it could be done for them, and it was.
Another time when Jesus did the seemingly impossible is when he calmed the storm.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” | Mark 4:37-41
It’s interesting that after Jesus does what the disciples asked him to, he asks them, “Why are you so afraid?” And even after he’s asked this, they feel inclined to ask each other, “Who is this?” because they were terrified. God’s power can be scary at times, because we often don’t know how to comprehend it. We know it would be nice if the scary thing, the wind and waves, could just up and disappear, but we haven’t thought about what would happen if that did actually happen. Not only can it actually happen, but the display of power on God’s part often leads us, in our mortality, to be scared, or more aptly, terrified. But Jesus’s next question is possibly more important: “Do you still have no faith?”
At this point, he has essentially revealed who he was. He has given them ample reason, ample proof, for them to have faith in him. Yet they still don’t see it.
Let’s not be like them, at least not in this instance.
One of the most important miracles Jesus did, however, even more important than healing the sick and calming the waves, was his resurrection after the cross. Mark doesn’t continue the story as long as Matthew, Luke, and John, but he does include the vital verses that describe the empty tomb and the message from the angels.
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” | Mark 16:5-7
This miracle is the most important miracle, because Jesus’ death and resurrection secured our salvation from the death we chose in the Garden of Eden. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read about it in Genesis Chapters 1-3.)
John summed up the main point nicely in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
It’s easy to want Jesus’ miracles to have happened. It’s also easy to write those miracles off as illusions or tricks. But writing them off says we don’t believe Jesus either A. tells the truth or B. is actually capable of doing what we read he did.
What we believe about his miracles directly ties into what we believe about the resurrection, and our belief about that is of eternal importance.
If you have questions about what you’ve just read, I suggest going back to the source. Take a moment to read through the Gospel of Mark, and then reach out to us. We’d love to connect with you and help you wrestle through whatever questions you may have. Send us an email so we can help you get connected to people who can help you dig deeper into the Gospel.