For two weeks we won’t read about Jesus’ miracles. The Sunday issues a few weeks to come, are instead Jesus kerygma (teaching) starting with the parable about the rich men in Luke 12,16-21. I prefer to read and think about his kerygma from now on. I explain why in this post.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus to show a sign from heaven, according to Marc 8,12 with a profound sigh said:
“Why does this generation demand a sign? In truth, I tell you, no sign shall be given to this generation.’
and later in Matthew 12,39 Jesus is even more negative to the miracle requirement:
“It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
It is like Jesus did not want to make signs. he wanted to talk and teach.
https://www.compellingtruth.org/Jesus-not-tell-miracles.html shares good thoughts about Jesus’ miracles.
The verses above made me think this:
- what miracles, did he do if he ever did?
- What signs did Jesus talk about a part of his own dead and resurrection (the miracle of Jonah)
- What was it that made the news about Jesus spread so fast over the Mediterranean and even convert the Roman emperor?
- what is my faith, do I need Jesus to do miracles and signs?
I try to answer these questions in this post.
The post was first published on August 4. I updated this post September 22.
- The miracles
- The spreading of the news about Jesus
- my faith
The disciples never asked for miracles.
I never read that the disciples asked for signs or miracles. He said “follow me” and they followed him. They had true faith in him.
Do we have faith or do we need signs and miracles?
Do we have faith or do we need Jesus to miracles as the apostles wrote?
the apostles and his followers had Jesus do miracles, Jesus didn’t want to.
Jesus didn’t want to make miracles. The apostles saw the need to raise Jesus’ status so they had him maybe do miracles. A Messiah sent by God must be able to do miracles. This was what the apostles and the people of that time, As many before them and during their time did.
e.g. Tacitus tells about the miraculous healings of the Emperor Vespasianus in Alessandria (“Nein und Amen” Italian version Ute-Ranke-Heineman, page 95)
Jesus teachings in The Gospels loose importance, because of all the “fairy tale-like” miracle stories
The effect of their miracle stories,, true or not, have today probably the opposite effect the apostles asked for. The Gospels with all the miracles have become fairy tales for many adults. Jesus’ miracle stories are not required anymore. Instead, the miracle stores remove our attention from Jesus teaching/kerygma with his among others, his parables
The apostles tell about three types of miracles
- on nature
- on humans
- healing sickness
- making blind see
- getting demons out
- getting deads alive
- Jesus own death and resurrection
Jesus himself talked about:
- healing sick people,
- getting demons out
- and his own death and resurrection
- signs that he talked about Capharnaum
The necessity of supernatural phenomena for prophets
According to( Exodus 4:1 ), Moses said to God:
‘But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my words,
and say to me,
“Yahweh has not appeared to you”?’
At these times and probably also 2000 years ago, people required supernatural phenomena to believe that Prophets were sent by God.
Jesus didn’t like to do miracles.
“Unless you see signs and wonders,
you will in no way believe.” (Jn 4:48)
An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign,
and there will be no sign given to it,
except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”(Mt 16:4)
These speaking talks by themselves.
the Italian Rai 1 program “A sua imagine” dedicate a Sunday to miracles. Can be seen in www.raiplay.it
The spreading of the news about Jesus
Thre is a legend about Luke who met disciples in Syria, coming from Jerusalem. They were enthusiastic telling about what recently happened in Jerusalem. It reminds me about Cleopas who said to Jesus:
18 ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ( Luke 24,18 )
The resurrection of Jesus was news that spread around the Mediterranean, despite not having any communication technology other than letters.
Talmidins and storytellers
There were not only Talmidins who recorded all that Jesus said. There were for sure also professional storytellers, storytellers that traveled around like musicians telling about what Jesus did. They earned money depending on their success, the number of listeners they had.
Jesus, the main figure in the storyteller’s mind.
Jesus became a legend and with it, he became a source of stories and money for many of these storytellers. Jesus’ existence stimulated the fantasy of many. With the old mythological knowledge and believes among the Hebrews and the Greeks, the storytellers got extraordinary stories to tell about, stories that helped them to achieve greater success among their audiences.
the story of the drowned pigs at Genesareth must have have been a very successful story among those who did not like Jesus.
Collection of stories
Several stories about miracles were told and became a collection of stories that among others John used in his Gospel according to Rudolf Bultman a German Lutheran theologian and professor of the New Testament at the University of Marburg (“Nein und Amen” page 93. Uta Ranke Heinemann)
Was it necessary to spice the story of Jesus and his resurrection with a lot of other miracles, to have a good spreading effect of Jesus teaching? At that time it was maybe necessary as many regarded miracles as proof of divinity.
Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking, and wine, by the Romans called Bacchus, made a miracle where empty jars were filled with wine and then, wine came out from a water source on the island of Andros. This event was at that time celebrated on January 6.
Of course, the followers of Jesus must have regarded him as far more powerful than the God Dionysus. So Jesus must of course also have made wine out of the water like John tells.
The Christians did not like the festivity of the miracle of Dionysus. So the solution was to take over this festivity with an Epiphany (epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) where we today celebrate the realization that Christ is the Son of God. But at that time it was as “he made his first godlike miracle at the wedding in Cana”.
(Out of topic, To remove a festivity in Rome was not an easy task. The Saturnalia dedicated to Saturn had to be taken over by a Christian Christmas. )
200 years ago, miracles were a proof of divinity so an adding of miracles by the apostles in the Gospels were necessary for the spreading of Jesus’ Kerygma (teaching).
It looks like Jesus talked to the Pharisees when according to
Matthew 12,39 he said: “It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
He said “unfaithful generation” not “unfaithful Pharisees”.
“The only sign it will be given” does this mean that the other signs were made for the faithful? Hardly. As he talked very bad about Capharnaum that got signs but did not listen.
I have worked hard to understand the miracles told about in the Gospels finding answers with knowledge about Quantum Physics.
I am however now reconsidering the miracle stories and my own faith.
Uta-Ranke Heineman does not believe Jesus made all the miracles as told about in the Gospels.
God and miracles
If there is a God, per definition, a God can do miracles, that does paranormal actions in Nature we can not explain with our limited reason. Compared to the Creation of the Universe, a resurrection of a dead or the healing of a sick is simply nothing.
God and messengers
According to the Bible and the Quran, God has sent several messengers. If God wants to, a messenger can ask for and start miracles.
I believe that God can do anything but I don’t need Jesus to have been a wine god ora miraculous healer, to believe in him.
Only one miracle?
So the question is: did Jesus do only the miracle “of Jonah” as Jesus called his death and resurrection or did he do more like the Gospels authors tell?
The importance of miracles.
2000 years ago it was maybe necessary to make divine signs and miracles to get learners, get respect and attention among all the messengers that walked around at that time preaching.
Mark 4:24- says: “The report about him (ed. his healing in Galilee) went out into all Syria. They brought to him all who were sick, afflicted with various diseases and torments, possessed with demons, epileptics, and paralytics… Great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.”
Jesus about the miracles and signs.
Jesus himself was terribly angry and disappointed with several cities (Capharnaum among others) that did not listen to him, despite the miracles and signs. Jesus did not like to make signs and miracles. he wanted the lost people fo Israel to listen.
Rowan Atkinson has made a nice parody over Jesus miracles
The need for miracle stories today
A friend of mine, a psychologist, thought that these miracle stories are still needed to attract attention.
I see that in Italy, many Christians do exactly what Jesus did say we shouldn’t about e.g. deeds and praying: “don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues” and “pray to your Father who is in secret” Matthew 6:1-6:7
I have listened many times to judgments, accuses bad talking in the Churches. I had to repeat several times, parts of the mountain speech like “love you enemie”, “do not judge” etc. I wonder if many ever have listened “with their minds” to Jesus’ teaching. Many may be happy to read miracle tales.
Even if many still need miracles to come to Church, what is the meaning of all this, if these people are blinded and do not follow the recommendations and good rules Jesus gave?
“Nein und Amen” Italian version Ute-Ranke-Heineman
Gospel miracles or not, Jesus’ kerygma (preaching) with his parables are what is important. Not only, these tell me that he was an extraordinary man, a Messiah. I personally don’t need miracles to believe that.
I appreciate Rudolf Bultmann’s view. ” that all that matters is the “thatness”, not the “whatness” of Jesus, i.e. only that Jesus existed, preached, and died by crucifixion matters, not what happened throughout his life.” ( Wiki )
I am sure that Jesus really existed and he died on the pole (staurus) as has been told about in the Gospels. The Muslims believe that he never died. He died ad he resurrected after three days like he told when he spoke about the miracle of Jonah. His teaching and his death and resurrection miracle, were the main reasons so many followed him dying like martyrs in Rome and we today do not pray to Roman Gods anymore.
I have paid attention to Jesus’ teaching. His advice has helped me for many years as a teacher and as a retired human and neighbor, still does. Thanks to his teaching, I try to collect treasures in heaven and I hope to be there at the resurrection
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
i will continue my effort to write a story that describes Jesus’ years as a young boy, his whatness, I continue my research with an anthropological approach. I try to understand Jesus the background of Jesus’ teaching and his Karisma. I still believe he did not suffer only as an adult. He must have had a difficult childhood too.