Miracles: The Supernatural Acts of Jesus
The supernatural acts of Jesus were very crucial to his ministry here on earth. Jesus taught, he encouraged and admonished all who gathered under his feet. The miraculous was also a paramount feature of his ministry as well. Many followed him and pursued him closely either to witness his supernatural power or to be beneficiaries of it.
In the book of John, we see Jesus admonish his followers two times to believe in him because of the works he does. I believe “the works” stands for the miracles he did. Specifically, in John 10:38, he said “… even though you do not believe me, believe the works…”. Then in John 14:11, he said again, “believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on the account of the works themselves”. Jesus expects his followers to believe in him either because of the words (the message) he spoke to them or on the account of the works (the miracles) that he did. This is the reason why we see the gospel writers detail so many of these supernatural acts of Jesus in their epistles. They did this to help the reader or believer build their faith in Jesus because of the numerous supernatural acts that he did that validate his calling. That is why John said:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. – John 20:30-31
John also said:
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. – John 21:25
Jesus’ miracles and wondrous signs were recorded to help boost your faith in him. The believer is not called to a life of blind faith. God expects us to believe in Jesus after a careful consideration of his ministry – which is a combination of his message, miracles and mission. This is why a careful study of the miracles of Jesus is a vital exercise every believer must undertake to know him and his power and to believe in Jesus as the messiah.
In the visualization above, we have a summary of the supernatural acts of Jesus. The bible mentions that Jesus did many miraculous things that were not written. However, the ones that were written with accompanying details have been visualized above. In the book of Luke alone, there is a record of 3 different instances that Jesus healed an unstated number of people in 3 separate meetings. In Luke 4:40 it is written that he laid his hands on a number of people and healed them of all their diseases and sicknesses. The setting of this narrative gives us the impression that it wasn’t a great number of people: Jesus had visited Simon Peter at home to heal his mother-in-law then at sun set the people in the vicinity started bringing in their sick relatives and friends for healing. However, in the second instance in Luke 6:19, Jesus was in the midst of a great multitude. The term “great multitude” is tautological because a multitude is a large number of people hence for the Bible to describe the crowd as such indicates the size of the gathering and perhaps that the number of people there was uncountable. In this case, since the number of people gathered was huge, Jesus didn’t lay hands on them. The Bible says “…power came out of him and healed them all”. It could have been 200 people who were healed that day; it could have been 700 or even a thousand. We cannot tell. All we know is that Jesus had the power to heal every sick person at a meeting that attracted a “great multitude” of people. Finally, we are told in Luke 7:21 that “In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight”. Again, we see that Jesus healed an unstated number of people in this gathering. The bible referred to all those who were present at this gathering as “crowds” (Luke 7:24), this gives us a fair idea of how large the gathering was and perhaps the number of people affected by the miraculous ministry of Jesus that day, because the text did say he healed “many” of them.
I say this in agreement with what John said in John 21:25, that Jesus did many awesome miracles that were not captured in the gospels; it would have probably taken a library of books to record them all. Just to reiterate, the visualization above looks at the supernatural acts of Jesus that were recorded with accompanying details in scripture. Three times we read in the gospels that Jesus raised the dead. Two times we are told that he fed thousands of people with very little food. In reference to casting out demons, it occurs in the gospels specifically two times and on all these two occasions the act was not linked to sicknesses. But as you may already know, it was the custom of Jesus to heal sick people by rebuking and casting out demons from them (eg. in Matthew 9:32). Those instances I have included to the data on the “healings” that Jesus did.
From the visualization above, it is also clear that healing tops all the recorded supernatural acts of Jesus. It is closely followed by what I have termed “miraculous acts”. This term refers to the many wondrous acts of Jesus that do not necessarily border on ministering to people directly but are supernatural nonetheless. Examples of such acts are turning water into wine, walking on water, calming the raging seas etc. These acts had an indirect impact on people but they weren’t directed at them.
Below is another visualization that looks at the breakdown of the supernatural acts of Jesus according to how many times they are recorded in the gospels. Matthew and Luke recorded the highest number of miracles amongst the 4 gospels. Although John recorded the least number of miracles, he was careful to give us a picture of the enormity of Jesus’ supernatural ministry. Perhaps he adopted hyperbole in his description of Jesus’ supernatural ministry when he said that the whole world could not contain the books that would have been written detailing all of Jesus’ miracles. John walked closely with Jesus and so was privy to the many miracles that he did from a front-row perspective. I have no cause to doubt him or any of the gospel writers on their accounts of the works of Jesus.
We have already discussed the purpose for the recording of Jesus’ miracles, but allow me to reiterate. The miracles of Jesus were recorded so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ and the son of the living God (John 20:30-31). This Bible Data Story was written with the aim of shedding some light on the miracles of Jesus from the perspective of a data storyteller. The end goal is so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ and the son of the living God. If he is the same yesterday, today and forever, then we can believe that he is still in the business of healing as many people as he did in one meeting when he ministered to a great multititude. And he is more than able and willing to perform miracles in and with our lives. It is my hope that your faith will be stirred up to believe in him as the son of God and then as the mighty healer and miracle worker that is proven beyond reasonable doubt in the gospels.
Find the dataset on my GitHub account here.