Did the miracles really happen? Miracles of Healing

We have probably all, unfortunately, known someone pretending to be a Christian leader who pretended to heal people to con them out of their money.  The Bible warns against such false miracle workers (see Matthew 7:22-23, Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, Revelation 13:11-18).

Jesus sets Himself apart immeasurably from these false prophets.  Here are a few of the ways He distinguishes Himself and those who follow His ministry:

  • He never asks people who want to be healed to give Him money before He will heal them or after He heals them (see all four Gospels).
  • The people He heals are often beggars, outcasts, and the very poor, people who could not give Him any money after healing, either (see, for example, Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 17:11-19, John 9).
  • People who did give Jesus gifts did so willingly and without any coercion or even request (See note [1] for more information).
  • Jesus was so poor He had no home (Matthew 8:20) and performed a miracle to pay taxes (Matthew 17:24-27).
  • Jesus chooses to heal people who are indisputably sick or handicapped (see, for example, Matthew 4:24, Matthew 8:5-14, Matthew 8:16, Matthew 9:1-8 Mark 1:32-1:34) like a paralytic (Matthew 9:2-8), the blind (Matthew 12:22, Matthew 15:30, Matthew 20:30-34, Matthew 21:14, Mark 8:22-26, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 7:21, John 9), the deaf, a child with violent convulsions (Mark 9:14-27), and even the dead (Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1-44).
  • Jesus healed everyone who asked Him, without exception, even people held in unquestionable disgust in the society of His day.
  • Jesus healed people who were well-known to be unwell (or dead!) and people who had been handicapped for a long time.  The beggars Jesus healed would often have been recognizable to most, if not all, of the village or city’s population.
  • Jesus performed so many healings, there are many we only have reference to without specifics (see Matthew 4:23-24, Mark 1:33-34, Mark 3:9-12, Luke 7:21)!
  • Jesus healed people in positions of notoriety or at their request those they cared about, not because they were more important to Jesus than the poor, but because He healed all people who asked Him.  These people further affirm the authenticity of Jesus’ miracles as, for example, a Roman centurion (Luke 7:1-10) or a government official’s son (John 4:43-54), or synagogue leader’s daughter (Luke 8:40-56) [2] held respectable positions in their day.

And none of this deals with the truth that if Jesus’ miracles were false His disciples would never have gone to impoverishment, imprisonment, public beatings, and gruesome deaths for His Namesake.

John summarizes Jesus’ ministry perfectly:

Now, there are many other things that Jesus did. If they were all written down one by one, I suppose that the whole world could not hold the books that would be written. (John 21:25, GNT)


[1] Some women followed after Jesus and helped support His ministry (see Luke 8:1-3).  A woman who was forgiven of sins poured expensive perfume over His feet and a woman whose brother was raised from the dead poured expensive perfume over His feet.  Simon the Leper had Jesus over for dinner and the fact that he even held a dinner party at his house indicates that Jesus had probably already healed him of leprosy.

[2] The servant to the high priest (see Luke 22:50-51) who was healed is another example.  Even if the servant wasn’t considered to hold a respectable position, the chief priests, officers, and elders in the crowd (see Luke 22:52) most certainly did!  The fact that none of them accused Jesus of performing a false miracle tells us how indisputable Jesus’ healing power was and is and always will be!

Did the miracles happen? The miracles of the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000

The miracles, in conjunction with Jesus’ teaching and revelation, were the groundwork for why the followers who were willing to die for Jesus believed in Him in the first place and were willing to suffer and die.

The miracles go well beyond a few witnesses.

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21, NIV)

How would the miracle of 5,000 men (not counting women and children, and this is a time when people had large families!) receiving food from 5 loaves and 2 fish be faked (see Matthew 14:13-21)?  Even if we thought somehow, someway the disciples (who had to have been extravagantly wealthy) were able to hide thousands of fish and bread in the middle of nowhere without them getting stolen or eaten by wild animals . . . the fish would have been rancid by the time they returned to feed the people.  (Not to mention that it would be hard not to notice the disciples putting bread and fish into Jesus’ basket so the bread and fish would multiply.)  There were at least, very conservatively, 15,000 people fed by this miracle (if each man brought only his wife and one child).  Supposing each man had a wife and three children (not a large family for that time), there were at least 25,000 people fed.

And there’s another problem, too, with trying to falsify this miracle: Jesus left by boat for solitude after John the Baptist’s death, and the crowds followed even though they didn’t have boats and they even went to a lonely place to find Him.  How would the disciples have known where to plant the food?  (And how many people would it take to plant food for 15,000 people anyway?  Not 12.)

Here is another miracle for thousands:

Jesus called his disciples to him and said,
I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away without feeding them, for they might faint on their way home.

The disciples asked him,
 Where will we find enough food in this desert to feed this crowd?

 How much bread do you have? Jesus asked.

 Seven loaves, they answered, and a few small fish.

So Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks to God, broke them, and gave them to the disciples; and the disciples gave them to the people.They all ate and had enough. Then the disciples took up seven baskets full of pieces left over.The number of men who ate was four thousand, not counting the women and children.

Then Jesus sent the people away, got into a boat, and went to the territory of Magadan. (Matthew 15:32-39, GNT)

This time, Jesus fed 4,000 men (again, not counting women and children!) receiving food from 7 loaves and a few fish.  This time, there were, conservatively, 12,000 people fed by this miracle.  The logistics and financial burden would make this miracle impossible to fake, not to mention that, had this miracle been faked, it would have taken only one of the many fisherman paid to give thousands of fish and one of the many bakers paid to give thousands of loaves to ruin Jesus’ reputation.

There were so many wealthy religious leaders wanting to prove Jesus as anything other than the Son of God that they would have happily paid for such information!  In fact, since they bribed people to lie about Jesus at His false trial, it seems very likely they would have bribed people to lie about the miracles except it was unthinkable, because there were so many witnesses and the miracles were so indisputable!

And that’s not all.  There are other problems, like how Jesus would have known the people would follow Him for three days so they would run out of food so they would reach the exact spot where the disciples had hidden all the food, or why Judas wouldn’t have revealed this, since he was so eager to betray Jesus, or how the disciples would know so closely how much bread to hide (there were 12 baskets left over with the 5,000 and 7 with the 4,000, meaning Jesus would have had to know about how many people would follow Him and how much each would eat to be full).  Also, the disciples would have had to have known how much food the people had carried with them and that they weren’t going to return home in groups as their food ran out.

It is possible for us to invent such a convoluted, tangled way of explaining these incredible miracles that we can trick ourselves into believing they didn’t really happen.  But the Bible, read as the power of God’s Word to us, renders Truth so clear that anyone anywhere can understand if only they will put their faith in the Author.

They traded the truth about God for a lie. (Romans 1:25a, NLT)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8, NLT)


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