What are miracles?
“Miracle” is one of those words we toss around all the time, usually without realizing what we’re saying. “I found this game on sale,” we say. “It was a miracle!”
If there’s a hurricane and your family’s house doesn’t get wiped out while your neighbor’s house does, is that a miracle? If a car is heading toward you and swerves out of the way at the last minute, is that a miracle . . . or the driver waking up?
What is a miracle, anyway?
The official definition: a miracle is God’s intervention into the natural world. A miracle is something that only a supernatural God can do. The Bible uses three words along with “miracle” to describe a miraculous event. Sometimes they are called signs, sometimes wonders, and sometimes a miracle-worker is described as someone with power.
When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that the people of Israel be freed from slavery, Moses said, “Hey—how do I prove to him that I’m speaking for you?” And God said, “I will give you two signs to prove that I’ve sent you.”
In other words, God said, “I’m going to let you do two things that only supernatural power could accomplish.” So when Moses went to the king of Egypt, his shepherd’s staff turned into a serpent, and his hand suddenly became disfigured with leprosy . . . and then miraculously healed.
Later God told Moses, “I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt . . . so the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”
God had a purpose for those miracles—they would prove that he was the one true God. God told Moses that he would do many more miracles in the land before the Israelites would leave Egypt. By that time, both the Israelites and the Egyptians would be impressed with God’s power and authority over the land and sea, life and death.
Many times in the Old Testament, God performed miracles to prove himself to prophets and people. Then came a time of silence that lasted four hundred years—there were no prophets, no one performing miracles. And then—God spoke again. He sent his angel to a girl in a town called Nazareth, and told her that even though she had never been with a man, she would have a baby who would grow up to be the Savior of the world.
A pregnant virgin—that’s one of the biggest miracles of all time! But God performed the miracle to show his power . . . and to send Jesus, the savior who would be both fully human and fully God.
When Jesus began his earthly ministry at the age of thirty, he began with a miracle—at a friend’s wedding, he turned jars of water into jars of fine wine. He went throughout the country healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding thousands of people with only a handful of bread and fish. Why did he do miracles? To help the people, certainly, but also as a sign—he wanted the people to see that the Messiah had come, that God was demonstrating his power and authority.
Jesus gave his life when he was crucified on a cross. He died there—from the wounds of his crucifixion. Just to be sure he was really dead, soldiers also thrust a spear into his heart. And then—the most important miracle of all time. Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection was a sign to everyone—Jesus was the Son of God, and he has the power to resurrect all of us from death. If we believe in him, we will live with him in heaven.
A genuine miracle can have three purposes:
1. to glorify God
2. to demonstrate that a person is really speaking for God
3. to provide evidence for belief in God.
A miracle is a supernatural event that would not—or could not—have happened unless God intervened.
So . . . is it a miracle that you got an A on your math test? Is it a miracle that your dog came home after being lost for two days? Probably not. But sometimes God works through natural ways to answer our prayers and work his will.
The Lord could have given you strength to study . . . so that’s why you got an A. God could have impressed that stranger to grab your dog and remember the “Lost Pet” sign he saw on the telephone pole, so that’s how your dog came home. Sometimes when we pray for the sick, God works through the doctors who perform surgery and give medicines that help the patient get better. God often works through his people to carry out his will. He also works through nature.
But sometimes he does something that ignores the laws of nature and logic—he does something only a supernatural God could do.
And that’s a miracle.
Memory Verse: “And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose” (Hebrews 2:4).
1. Read the following verses and see if you can discover the reason for the miracle:
· the turning of the water into wine: John 2:11
· the raising of Lazarus from the dead: John 11:40
· all of Jesus’ miracles: Acts 2:22
· Jesus’ miracles: Hebrews 2:4
· for whose sake did Jesus perform miracles? John 6:2
· why do we read about Jesus’ miracles? John 20:30-31.
2. Have you ever experienced a genuine miracle in your life? What was it? Look at the three purposes for miracles—to glorify God, to demonstrate that a person is really speaking for God, or to provide evidence for belief in God. Did your miracle fulfill any of these purposes?
3. If you haven’t experienced a genuine miracle, do you think you ever will? When might that be? (Think about things still to come in the future . . .)