As Jesus traveled throughout Galilee he performed many miracles (Matthew 4:23–25). They are too numerous to discuss in a single lesson such as this one. Some have been covered previously and some will be covered as part of future lessons. But this week’s lesson includes a summary of all 43 of those that are mentioned in the New Testament. Certainly, there must have been many, many more.
Why Jesus Performed Miracles
● To build and confirm faith (Matthew 9:27–30).
● To prove his divinity and power (Mark 1:27; 2:10–11).
— Elder James E. Talmage wrote, “In many scriptures miracles are called signs, as also wonders, powers, works, wonderful works, mighty works, etc. The spiritual effect of miracles would be unattained were the witnesses not caused to inwardly wonder, marvel, ponder and inquire; mere surprise or amazement may be produced by deception and artful trickery. Any miraculous manifestation of divine power would be futile as a means of spiritual effect were it unimpressive. Moreover, every miracle is a sign of God’s power; and signs in this sense have been demanded of prophets who professed to speak by divine authority.”1
● As part of the calling of His disciples (Luke 5:1–11).
THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF MIRACLES
What Is a Miracle?
● A Definition: A miracle is an event brought about by God that is beyond human understanding.
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “In the gospel sense, miracles are those occurrences wrought by the power of God which are wholly beyond the power of man to perform. Produced by a supernatural power, they are marvels, wonders, and signs, which cannot be duplicated by man’s present powers or by any powers which he can obtain by scientific advancements. Miracles in the gospel sense are gifts of the Spirit; they take place when the Lord on his own motion manifests his powers or when man by faith prevails upon Deity to perform supernatural events.”2
— Elder James E. Talmage said, “Miracles cannot be in contravention of natural law, but are wrought through the operation of laws not universally or commonly recognized. In the contemplation of the miracles wrought by Christ, we must of necessity recognize the operation of a power transcending our present human understanding. In this field, science has not yet advanced far enough to analyze and explain.”3
JESUS’ MIRACLES OF NATURE
Fourteen Miracles of Nature:
# Miracle Performed: (Scripture Reference)
1. Water converted into wine (John 2:1–11).
3. Jesus passes unseen through crowd (Luke 4:28–30).
4. The draught of fishes (Luke 5:1–11).
15. The storm stilled (Matt.8:23–27; Mark 4:35–41; Luke 8:22–25).
22. The five thousand fed (Matt.14:14–21; Mark 6:33–34; Luke 9:11–17; John 6:1–14).
23. Jesus walks on the sea (Matt.14:24–33; Mark 6:47–52; John 6:16–21).
24. Peter saved from drowning by Christ (Matt.14:28–33).
25. Wind ceases; ship immediately at land (Matt.14:24–33; Mark 6:47–52; John 6:16–21).
29. The four thousand fed (Matt.15:29–38; Mark 8:1–9).
32. The tribute money in the fish (Matt.17:24–27).
33. Jesus passes through crowd unseen (John 8:59).
41. Barren fig tree cursed (Matt.21:18–21; Mark 11:12–21).
42. They who take Jesus fall to the ground (John 18:3–6).
44. The great haul of fishes (John 21:6–14).
● Changing Water into Wine (Miracle #1)
— Jesus was at the marriage in Cana—apparently within His mother’s household (John 2:1–5; footnote 4a).
— According to the JST, Jesus willingly responded to His mother’s request for help by saying, “Woman, what wilt thou have me to do for thee? that will I do; for mine hour is not yet come” (JST John 2:2–4).
— Jesus helped His mother by performing the first miracle of His ministry (John 2:6–11).
— A “firkin” is about nine gallons; thus each of the six water-pots contained around 18 to 27 gallons of water (v. 6).
— Jesus therefore created between 100 to 150 gallons of wine.
— This, in turn, shows that the wedding celebration was quite large.
— It caused Christ’s disciples to believe more strongly in him (v. 11).
● Calming of the Sea (Miracle #15)
— Jesus was fast asleep, but awakened and stilled the raging storm-tossed sea (Mark 4:35–41).
— We learn from this that Jesus was subject to being tired; he was fast asleep.
— We also learn that the Master has absolute control over the elements, which obey Him.
— Jesus gently chided the disciples. “Why are you so fearful?” he asked and then said “How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:37–38). We might apply these questions to ourselves and realize that if we have faith Christ can and will heal and help us.
● Feeding the Five Thousand (Miracle #22)
— Jesus multiplied loaves of bread and fishes to feed the hungry multitude (John 6:1–13).
— The people followed him, looking for him to continue to feed them (John 6:22–31). Jesus said to them, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26).
— It is interesting to note that shortly after this miracle, the crowds sought to make Him their King. But when He declined and told them that He was the Son of God, they demanded of Him “a sign,” forgetting entirely the miracle they had just recently received.
● Walking on the Water (Miracle #23)
— Leaving the rural area near Bethsaida, where Jesus had fed five thousand, the Apostles started by boat “toward Capernaum.” Their plan was to meet Jesus again enroute, apparently at the city of Bethsaida.
— A sudden and violent storm arose, keeping the boat from shore, and would have prevented the scheduled meeting had not Jesus come to them walking on the water.
— They had rowed only about 25–30 furlongs—about 3 ½ miles—in 8–10 hours. Unable to sail against the head wind, and fearing a disastrous wreck, the disciples had kept themselves afloat.
— In the fourth watch of the night—sometime between 3:00 and 6:00 AM—Jesus came to them, walking on the sea—literally on the surface of the raging waves.
— When they saw Him they thought it was a spirit and were afraid until he called out to them, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
— Peter also walked on the water. True, frightened by the boisterous wind, his confidence weakened, and he began to sink, but reassured by the Master’s hand, he returned to the boat walking on the sea.
JESUS’ MIRACLES OF HEALING
Twenty Miracles of Healing:
# Miracle Performed: (Scripture Reference)
2. Nobleman’s son healed (John 4:46–54).
6. Peter’s wife’s mother healed (Matt. 8:14–15; Mark 1:29–31; Luke 4:38–39).
7. A multitude healed (Matt.8:16–17; Mark 1:32–34; Luke 4:40–41).
8. The leper healed (Matt.8:1–4; Mark 1:40–45).
9. A man with palsy healed (Matt. 9:2–8; Luke 5:17–26).
10. A man with a 38–year infirmity healed (John 5:1–16).
11. A man with a withered hand healed (Matt.12:9–13; Mark 3:1–5; Luke 6:6–10).
12. Centurion’s servant healed of palsy (Matt. 8:5–13; Luke 7:2–10).
19. Woman with the issue of blood healed (Matt.9:20–22; Mark 5:25–34; Luke 8:43–48).
20. Two blind men healed (Matt.9:27–31).
26. People healed by touch of His garment (Matt.14:34–36; Mark 6:53–56).
27. Daughter of the Greek woman healed (Matt.15:22–28; Mark 7:25–30).
28. Deaf man’s speech impediment healed (Mark 7:32–37).
30. A blind man healed (Mark 8:22–26).
35. Jesus heals a man born blind (John 9:1–7).
36. The woman long ill healed on Sabbath (Luke 13:11–17).
37. The man with dropsy healed on Sabbath (Luke 14:1–6).
38. The ten lepers healed (Luke 17:11–19).
40. Bartimaeus and a blind beggar healed (Mt 20:29–34; Mk 10:46–52; Lk 18:35–43).
43. Healed the high priest’s servant (Malchus’) ear (Luke 22:50–51).
● Healing a Nobleman’s Son (Miracle #2)
— This was the second miracle Jesus performed, immediately after he had turned water into wine in Cana (John 4:46–54).
● Healing a Leper (Miracle #8)
— “Leprosy was nothing short of a living death, a corrupting of all the humors, a poisoning of the very springs, of life; a dissolution, little by little, of the whole body, so that one limb after another actually decayed and fell away. . . . The disease, moreover, was incurable by the art and skill of man; not that the leper might not return to health; for, however rare, such cases are contemplated in the Levitical law.”4
— On occasions when His miracles might draw only the curious or sign seekers, Jesus commanded those whom he blessed to tell no one (v. 4).
● Healing a Paralytic Man and Forgiving Sins (Miracle #9)
— “When Jesus saw their faith, he said (v. 5). . . Son, thy sins be forgiven thee”.
— The scribes were offended, saying, “who can forgive sins but God?” (v. 7).
— Jesus then displayed His right to forgive sins by immediately healing the man (Mark 2:8–12).
● Healing the Centurion’s Servant (Miracle #12)
— Miracles (and the Savior’s love) are not limited to Jews or the members of His Church. The Savior marveled at this Gentile man’s faith and humility (Luke 7:1–10).
● Healing a Woman with an Issue of Blood (Miracle #19)
— The woman’s faith did not require the Savior’s direct attention. Her faith alone made her whole (Mark 5:25–34). And when she was healed the Savior felt “virtue” flow out of Him (v. 30).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “That there was no healing power in the hem of Jesus’ garment, nor in of the physical things he possessed, nor in any relic from any source, how saintly, goes without saying. . . . And now we see [the woman] looking upon the fringes of his garments; remembering the ancient covenant that by doing she was agreeing to keep the commandments; and feeling within herself that if she but touched the sacred fringes on the garments of him who she accepted as God’s Son, surely she would be healed.”5
JESUS’ POWER OVER EVIL SPIRITS
● Who Are These Evil Spirits?
● Why Evil Spirits Take Possession of Others’ Bodies
— In being cast down to earth, they were forever denied physical bodies (Isaiah 14:21). Apparently this denial has caused them to seek habitation in the bodies of other persons.
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none.”6
● Seven Demonstrations of Power over Evil Spirits:
# Miracle Performed: (Scripture Reference)
5. An unclean spirit cast out (Mark 1:21–28; Luke 4:31–37).
14. Blind and dumb demoniac healed (Matt.12:22–23).
16. Two Gadarene demoniacs healed (Matt.8:28–34; Mark 5:1–20; Luke 8:26–39).
17. Swine rush into the sea and perish (Matt.8:32–34; Mark 5:13–20; Luke 8:33–39).
21. Dumb demoniac healed (Matt.9:32–34).
31. Demoniac boy healed after disciples fail (Mt 17:14–21; Mk 9:14–29; Lk 9:37–43).
34. Jesus casts out a dumb devil (Luke 11:14–26).
● Rebuking an Evil Spirit (Miracle #5)
— Jesus took His newly called disciples to Capernaum, where, after teaching the people, he cast an unclean spirit out of a man (Mark 1:21–28).
— He astonished the people by teaching “as one having authority and not as the scribes” (v. 22).
— The evil spirit recognized him as “the Holy One of God” (v. 24).
● The Maniac from the Tombs Possessed by Legions (Miracle #16).
— Soon after stilling the sea, Jesus was approached by a man possessed of evil spirits. This man could not be bound with chains, and remained in the mountains crying and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus, he ran to him (Mark 5:1–13).
— Devils know that Jesus is the Christ, but it does not save them (v.7). They are doomed to eternal damnation because of their acts in the premortal life. This particular spirit asked, “Art thou come . . . to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29).
— A great host of spirits (“legion”) had taken residence n the body of one man. Literally, a legion in the Roman army amounted to 6,000 men. Figuratively, a legion is an indefinitely large number.
— Elder James E. Talmage said: “The fact of the man’s dual consciousness or multi-personality is here apparent. So complete was his possession by wicked spirits that he could no longer distinguish between his individual personality and theirs.”7
— When cast out of the man, these evil spirits begged permission to enter into the bodies of a herd of swine that were feeding nearby. To make His point, the Savior granted their request, whereupon the swine ran violently down a steep hillside and into the sea (Mark 5:9).
— How the people—and the cured man—reacted to this great miracle (Mark 5:14–20).
● The Boy Possessed since Childhood (Miracle #31)
— Note the Lord’s great compassion for this desperate man (Mark 9:17–27).
— Note the man’s poignant plea: “Lord I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (v. 24).
— L. Whitney Clayton said, “All of us have come face-to-face with difficult, even desperate hours, when with tears we have fallen on our knees and pled . . . ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.’ Each day we decide what we will do and what we will not do, among myriad alternatives. When we choose to obey the commandments cheerfully as our first priority, neither murmuring about nor measuring the things He commands. . . . We simply go and do the things the Lord has commanded, even when we are weary, trusting that He will help us to do exactly as He asks. As we do so, the Lord helps our unbelief, and our faith becomes powerful, vibrant, and unshakable.”8
— The disciples had tried but failed to cast out this same evil spirit (Mark 9:28–29).
JESUS’ POWER OVER DEATH
● Three Demonstrations of Power over Death:
# Miracle Performed: (Scripture Reference)
13. The son of a widow of Nain raised (Luke 7:11–17).
18. The daughter of Jairus raised (Matt.9:18–26; Mark 5:22–43; Luke 8:41–56).
38. The raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:17–46).
● Raising the Son of the Widow of Nain (Miracle #13)
— This was the first example of Christ’s power over death. He exercised it out of pure compassion for this grieving widow (Luke 7:11–17). Nothing like this had been done in Israel since the days of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.
● Raising the Daughter of Jairus (Miracle #18)
— Aramaic scholars, feel that Talitha Cumi was not referring to a damsel in general, but that it was Jairus’s daughter’s given name. If this is true, the True Shepherd is shown here calling one of His little sheep by name.
● Raising Lazarus after Four Days in the Tomb (Miracle #38).
— This is the most dramatic of all Jesus’ raisings of the dead (John 11:17–46). It happened toward the end of His earthly ministry, and will be discussed in a later lesson.
What are the doctrinal insights we receive from this week’s lesson material? You should consider discussing one or more of these with your class.
● Miracles Bless Only the Faithful. More miracles were performed in the city of Capernaum than in any other city, yet the people would not repent. Jesus denounced Capernaum for it (Matthew 11:23–24). Miracles alone don’t provide a firm foundation for faith (Ether 12:12, 18). President James E. Faust said, “I am persuaded that the miraculous and spectacular does not necessarily convert people to the gospel. Miracles are more to confirm a faith already held. . . . A quiet witness that Jesus is the Christ is more the product of a committed faith coming from dedication and sacrifice, an effort to keep God’s commandments, and following the constituted priesthood authority of the Church.”9
● Faith is a prerequisite for miracles (Matt. 13:54–58). The Lord did not do many miracles among those who did not believe. Jesus was willing to heal all afflicted people who came to him (Matt. 4:23–25). But the JST adds the phrase “which believed on his name” to explain that the healings performed by Jesus required faith (JST Matt. 4:22–23). There is a pattern in the miracles that Jesus performed during his ministry: He first asked if the person believed in Him or believed that He could heal them. Then, if they answered in the affirmative, He proceeded to perform the miracle.
● Signs follow belief and faith (Mark 16:14–20). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Miracles are the fruits of faith, . . . Where faith is there will be some of the fruits: all gifts and power which were sent from heaven, were poured out on the heads of those who had faith. . . . Faith has been wanting not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healings, prophecy, and prophets and Apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have been wanting.”10
— The Prophet Joseph Smith healed the sick. As related on page 30 of the Come, Follow Me Teacher’s Manual: “In July 1839, a large number of Saints who had been driven out of Missouri were living in wagons, in tents, and on the ground near Commerce, Illinois. Many were very sick, and Joseph and Emma Smith were exhausted from trying to help them. Wilford Woodruff described what happened on July 22: “It was a day of God’s power. There were many sick among the Saints on both sides of the [Mississippi] River, and Joseph went through the midst of them, taking them by the hand and in a loud voice commanding them in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from their beds and be made whole, and they leaped from their beds made whole by the power of God. . . . It was truly a time of rejoicing.”11
— Elder LeGrand Richards, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told of an experience from the life of his grandfather, Elder Franklin D. Richards, who in 1848 was the leader of a group of British Saints who were crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. “The boat upon which [Elder Richards] was sailing was in great jeopardy [from a severe storm], so much so that the captain of the boat came to him and pleaded with him to intercede with the Lord in behalf of the boat and her passengers; and Grandfather, remembering that he had been promised that he should have power over the elements, walking out on the deck of the boat and raised his hands to high heaven and rebuked the sea and the waves, and they were immediately calmed.”12
1. Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 147.
2. Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 506.
3. Jesus the Christ, 148–149.
4. Trench, Notes on the Miracles, 165–168, Quoted by Elder James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 200.
5. The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2:294.
6. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 181.
7. Jesus the Christ, 311.
8. Ensign, Nov. 2001, 28–29.
9. “A Legacy of the New Testament,” 12th Annual CES Religious Educators’ Symposium, 12 Aug. 1988.
10. History of the Church, 5:355, 218.
11. Wilford Woodruff, Journal, July 22, 1839, Church History Library.
12. In Conference Report, Apr. 1941, 84.