Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

7. About Jesus / Miracles of Jesus |
Madman or God?

This is a continuation of the sixth segment (John the Baptist) of Chapter One on Jesus of Nazareth entitled Madman or God?. It is from Volume One, The Veil is Torn, of the twelve-volume historical series: The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years. This section of the chapter describes miracles performed by Jesus.

The explanation for his success was not mysterious. The man had shocking powers.

Soon after, Jesus appeared as a visiting rabbi in the synagogue at his home town of Nazareth. There he read a passage from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Isaiah 61:1–2a RSV

Then, rolling up the scroll, he said: “This day is that scripture fulfilled in your ears.” And he sat down while the congregation looked on astonished.

He was proclaiming himself the Messiah. Now this was not all that unusual. There had been at least three claimant messiahs thirty-some years earlier after the death of Herod the Great, all of whom had led uprisings that were suppressed with fire and sword. But from that beginning in Nazareth, this Jesus was fundamentally different. Like his cousin, he shunned the political. Unlike his cousin, he did not choose to dwell in the desert. He lived with his followers and seemed to enjoy the company of people, sometimes a very disreputable company. The incident in Nazareth began a three-year ministry that aroused hundreds, possibly several thousand, usually to support him, occasionally to oppose or abandon him. It had culminated those six weeks ago on a cross outside Jerusalem. So, anyway, the authorities hoped.

The explanation for his success was not mysterious. The man had shocking powers. At first, the authorities very much questioned the recurring reports of the miraculous. But the evidence for these strange events was so overwhelming that by continually challenging their authenticity, officialdom began casting doubt upon its own credibility.

The most common among the miracles were the healing of diseases. Lepers were “cleansed,” paralytics were cured, fevers assumed to be fatal disappeared, a woman’s unstanchable “issue of blood” (probably caused by what would come to be known as fibroids) vanished, chronic edema went away, the deaf acquired hearing, a withered hand was made whole. On at least four occasions the blind recovered their sight. It went on and on. There were three instances—one at Nain about eighteen miles southwest of the Galilean Sea (which the Romans called Lake Tiberias), one somewhere on the west shore of the lake and one at the village of Bethany on the very outskirts of Jerusalem—in which people who were presumed dead were restored to life. In two instances they were children. The Bethany case understandably alarmed the Temple officials. With many more exhibitions like this, they knew, his movement would become irresistible.

There were also repeated stories of exorcism. Mute people were made to speak, a demon-possessed little girl was suddenly rendered tranquilly sane; so was a young boy. One demoniac was cured in the middle of a synagogue service.

In addition, he seemed to exert some uncanny control over the natural elements. There were stories, understandably significant to commercial fishermen, in which he told them to put their nets down at a given spot and they promptly dragged in a huge haul of fish. In at least one instance, he commanded a bad storm to stop and it instantly ceased. In another, he actually walked over the water. He cursed a tree and it immediately withered and died; he somehow fed an enormous crowd of people out of a couple of baskets of bread and fish; and at a wedding reception in Cana, ten miles west of Lake Tiberias, where they ran out of wine and the hostess was no doubt frantic, he obliged by converting several vases of water into (they say) an extremely good vintage.

To continue reading from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years, Volume One — The Veil is Torn, Chapter One on Jesus of Nazareth entitled Madman or God? and would like to proceed to the next section on Is Jesus the Devil?