The Miracles of Jesus—Fact or Fiction?
“PEOPLE brought him [Jesus Christ] many demon-possessed persons; and he expelled the spirits with a word, and he cured all who were faring badly.” (Matthew 8:16) “He [Jesus] roused himself and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: ‘Hush! Be quiet!’ And the wind abated, and a great calm set in.” (Mark 4:39) How do you view these statements? Do you believe that they describe actual, historical events, or do you feel that they are allegorical stories, mere myths?
Many today express serious doubts about the historicity of Jesus’ miracles. This era of the telescope and the microscope, of space exploration and of genetic engineering, seems to allow little room for reports of miraculous works and divine wonders.
Some feel that accounts of miracles are fantastic or allegorical. According to the writer of a book that purports to explore the “real” Jesus, the stories about Christ’s miracles are nothing more than “marketing devices” to propagate Christianity.
Others view Jesus’ miracles as outright frauds. The charge of deception is sometimes hurled at Jesus himself. According to Justin Martyr of the second century C.E., Jesus’ detractors “even ventured to call him a magician and a deceiver of the people.” Some allege that Jesus “did not perform his miracles as a Jewish prophet, but as a magician, an initiate of the heathen temples.”
You may feel that behind such doubts, there is a fundamental reason why people are reluctant to believe in miracles. They just find it difficult, even impossible, to accept the thought that supernatural forces could be at work. “Miracles just do not happen—period,” said a young person who called himself an agnostic. He then quoted the words of 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume, who wrote: “A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature.”
However, many would be very cautious about asserting that a certain phenomenon is impossible. The World Book Encyclopedia calls a miracle “an event that cannot be explained through the known laws of nature.” By that definition, space travel, wireless communication, and satellite navigation would have seemed to most to be “miracles” just a century ago. Surely it is unwise to assert that miracles are impossible simply because we cannot explain them based on present knowledge.
If we examine some of the Scriptural evidence surrounding miracles ascribed to Jesus Christ, what will we find? Are Jesus’ miracles fact or fiction?