Jesus healed the blind, the lame, the deaf, the mute, the sick, the possessed, the addicted, the broken, the fearful, the anxious, the diseased, the hungry, the poor, the thirsty — everyone who asked, who came, who touched, who listened — everyone who desired new life received it.
But that was long ago and far away. Is Jesus still healing today?
The Bible reports every kind of miracle from the parting of the Red Sea to Jesus walking on water and calming storms. From feeding thousands with no more than a few fish and a couple loaves of bread to healing leprosy and casting out demons. A central feature of a Biblical faith is accepting the facts as they are reported.
And yet, too many people today believe that miracles are just the stuff of legends. Stories of a long lost past. Myths of deeds and heroes that are shared generation after generation, but that seem beyond the realm of reason for a modern person to accept or believe as actually true when the details are considered.
Perhaps the Bible is allegorical rather than historical? Perhaps God didn’t make the sun stand still for Joshua at Aijalon, but rather the writer is posing a metaphor of God’s power to grant the victory against impossible odds?
Faith, after all, is a different pursuit than science and the recording of history, isn’t it? Actually, no it is not.
There is a basic assertion in science that says that there is an underlying consistency in space and time such that if Isaac Newton performed an experiment in the 1600s in England and I perform the same experiment in America in the present day that we will both achieve the same results. In fact, anyone, anywhere, at anytime can achieve identical results if they can produce identical circumstances and actions. So, the assumption of science is that if I achieve different results than Newton there must have been a difference in the circumstances or actions taken. For instance, if I say that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius but don’t specify the atmospheric pressure of the circumstances in which the water finds itself, you might perform the same experiment at a different altitude and pressure and discover an apparently different result. However, your experiment wouldn’t actually be invalidating my result, it would simply lead to the discovery of another contributing cause because the fundamental fact is that both space and time are consistent such that if we observe different results its not simply that you are somewhere else and performing the experiment at a different time, but rather that in some way the method you are using in attempting to replicate my results has introduced another factor into the situation which is causing a different outcome to occur.
So, considering that Jesus lived in the same space-time continuum that we live in, the historical accounts of His actions and their results must necessarily yield the same outcomes today that they did 2000 years ago.
Reality is, after all, objectively consistent.
The same laws of physics applied when Jesus walked on water as applied when the sun stood still for Joshua or the waters of the Red Sea parted for Moses.
Now, many people have claimed that because no modern observer has experienced the same phenomena reported in the Bible, therefore the Bible is not an accurate accounting of the historical events it records. That, however, is not a very scientific view of the situation as it is dismissing the data rather than exploring it in order to come to a meaningful and comprehensive conclusion.
“Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.'” – John 20
It is true that I will never be one of the original 12 apostles of Christ. I won’t get to walk the streets of Palestine with Peter and John, Andrew and James, Mary and Joanna, Martha and Lazarus. I won’t get to sail on the sea of Galilee with the famous fishers of men or step out of the boat onto the water at Jesus’ command. But I know that the reporting by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is trustworthy and accurate to the facts as they observed them, just like I know that the historical record of the Bible is an accurate recounting of the facts by each of its authors as they hoped to pass along the evidence of faith observed in the world. There are things that I don’t understand and that have yet to be explained for sure, but I consider that these are simply evidence of additional causes that people today have perhaps missed or left out of the consideration set, not reasons to question the original reporting of the incidents observed.
In fact, far from being unusual or anomalous, Jesus actually declared that His miracles were not extraordinary or unique to Him, but rather that His miracles were just the very beginning of a great age of miracles to come.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” – John 14
Jesus is saying that He is going to accomplish more after His death and resurrection than He had ever accomplished during His life on earth because the Holy Spirit will empower believers all over the world to continue His work and accomplish the same things He had accomplished and more. So, far from expecting that the miracles in the Bible were more powerful than what we could expect today, Jesus is suggesting that the miracles that are possible today are greater than the miracles He did in Israel so long ago. All it requires is the right kind of participation.
Remember, when Jesus walked on water, He invited Peter to join Him.
“So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. ‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said. ‘Why did you doubt me?'” – Matthew 14
Given the same circumstances and the same contributing causes, Peter could achieve the same results that Jesus had accomplished. But when Peter changed the inputs, the results changed as well.
Not surprisingly, then, if you deny the existence of God and refuse to include Him in your working definition of reality; if you believe you can somehow materially reconstruct the miracles reported in the Bible without the influence, presence, and activity of God, you are going to be disappointed with the results you achieve because reality requires the same instrumental causes in order to achieve the same material effects.
“Then Jesus told them, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.'”. – Matthew 21
Reality has not somehow changed in character since the time of Jesus. The facts are still the facts. And given the same inputs, reality will still yield the same outputs. So, rather than questioning the historicity of the Bible or suggesting that the Bible is somehow inaccurate in its reporting of the occurrences and phenomena observed, perhaps it would be more rational, scientific, and educated to accept the data and observations of the Bible writers into the consideration set and ask yourself what instrumental causes we are missing when we fail to reconstruct that miracles reported there.
The fact is, there is more to this statement of Jesus than is traditionally understood,
“…you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” – Mark 11
Faith is more than dogma or tradition. Faith is more than opinion or worldview. Faith is the power rooted in the very fabric of the reality that surrounds you by the one who created it, and discovering a relationship with the one who created it opens the doorway to receiving more than you have ever imagined possible.
“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Show us how to increase our faith.’ Jesus answered, ‘If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!'” – Luke 17
Miracles are not fanciful stories told by illiterate people to explain circumstances beyond their understanding. Miracles are scientifically repeatable phenomena that have been observed and can be observed again given the same instrumental causes. Which means that because the intrinsic presence, reality, and activity of God in creation is the chief cause and driving force in the accomplishment of miraculous outcomes, without God in the calculus, miracles simply don’t happen — but with God, all things are possible.
“Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, ‘If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, ‘Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.” – Matthew 9