Did Jesus “Really” Perform Miracles?

Yes, Jesus really performed miracles. It was a trademark of his ministry and interestingly enough, his miracle working was acknowledged by both friends and foes. Within the history of scholarship concerning Jesus, many have sought to separate the “historical” Jesus from the Jesus of the New Testament. With the assumption that the supernatural found within the New Testament was nothing more than mythological additions that developed over time, Jesus was reinterpreted to be among many things, a great moral teacher. However, Jesus falls short of even being a great moral teacher if he was incorrect concerning what he said about himself. Jesus claimed to have authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). He also claimed to be himself sinless (John 8:46). Jesus even claimed to be God (John 8:58). Hence, all of the attempts at reconstructing a historical Jesus that did not make these controversial claims, and also performed miraculous signs is hopeless. The Jesus of the New Testament is the historical Jesus.

The New Testament records an acknowledgement of both Jewish leaders and opponents that Jesus performed miracles. Consider the words of Nicodemus:

“Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2).

Nicodemus would constitute a person outside of Jesus’ own camp of followers confirming that he performed the miraculous. Or consider the accusations from hostile persons towards Jesus when he was miraculously casting out demons:

“But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons'” (Matthew 12:24).

Notice that the accusation was not that Jesus did not actually cast out demons, but rather, that he did so by the power of demons. Of course, their accusation implicitly confirmed that Jesus’ own enemies acknowledged that Jesus was functioning under the power of the supernatural. Hence, such accusations prove persuasive given that they are coming from enemies, rather then followers. Even in antagonistic sources outside of the Bible, we have the claim for instance of the Jewish Talmud, that Jesus utilized “sorcery”. Remember, that this is an antagonistic source attributing to Jesus incredible (but in their estimation, diabolical) powers, but disputing the source of this power. Taken together, we have Jesus followers, supporters and intrigued seekers, as well as enemies, attribute to Jesus supernatural abilities. This is, taken together, quite remarkable if Jesus never actually performed any miracles at all. A historical reconstruction of Jesus that did not perform miraculous feats does not square with the evidence. The only plausible route a skeptic can take is to deny the existence of Jesus, which is the route that many have taken, but such a view runs contrary to the preponderance of historical evidence.

Considering the fact that Jesus was a miracle worker, we should then also focus on the central message of the Gospel that he preached. For the miracles were signs pointing to a profound truth that the world needed to hear. These signs vindicated that message; the message that death has been conquered and sinners can be reconciled to God through the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ. This same Jesus that was crucified and buried, God has raised from the dead and will judge both the living and the dead on an appointed time. So we continue to proclaim, repent! And turn to God.

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