In the previous entry, we covered The Healing Miracles performed by Jesus during his ministry. In older entries, we discussed who the Messiah is, and what he came to do, taking a look at prophecies, as well as the life of Jesus and confirming that he is who he claimed to be. (Picture Credit to ITC Entertainment, "Jesus of Nazareth" Miniseries starring Robert Powell.)
Now, we will take a look at two different kinds of miracles: Raising the Dead and Driving Out the Demons. Regardless of what you believe, there is too much evidence to ignore - for God, for the Bible, for Jesus. Let's take a look at merely some of these wonders he performed while on earth.
Matthew 9:23-25 says, "When Jesus entered the synagogue leader's house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, 'Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.' But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up." Now, I want you to realize that this girl was actually dead.
Declared dead. But when Jesus said "asleep," he was referring to the fact that she was not spiritually dead. So he brought her back to life - all he had to do was speak, and she could have lived again, but he chose touch, which proved to those around who he was.
Luke 7:11-15 gives another account of the dead rising. Jesus and his disciples were approaching the town of Nain. As they approached, the only son of a widow was being carried out - he was dead. Jesus said to her, "Don't cry." He touched the bier that he was being carried in, saying, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" Verse 15 tells us, "The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."
John also tells us an interesting account. This one is a bit different, since he was a friend of Jesus and the disciples, and had been dead for four days. Now, critics say that Jesus could have revived the boy and the girl since they had not been dead long. But critics cannot account for a man brain-dead for four days.
In John 11:1-44, we are given the account of Lazarus. His sister was Mary - who was the one who had poured perfume on Jesus' feet and then wiped it with her hair. When Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, he replied, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory that God's Son may be glorified through it." So he "stalled" for a few days, finally telling them that Lazarus had fallen asleep, but that he was going to go and wake him up.
The disciples were confused, saying that sleep is good for a sick person. So Jesus said plainly, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." So Jesus and the disciples went and met with Martha and Mary. Jesus told Mary that Lazarus would rise again, and she replied that she knew he would rise again on the last day.
But Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She replied by saying that yes, she believed, and believed that he was the Messiah, the Son of God.
He asked the stone to be rolled away from his tomb. John 11:43-44 says, "When he had said this, Jesus called out in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'" This was all done to show that Jesus was the Son of God.
What about the demons? We will not go in depth into each one, but there is a particular account that I would like to cover. We are told that Jesus drove out demons on many occasions (Matthew 8:16, 28-34; 9:32-33; 12:22; 15:22-28; Matthew 17:14-18; and Luke 4:31-36)
Luke 8:26-39 recounts the story of Legion. Jesus and his disciples sailed to Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a naked man, [Matthew 8:28-34 says he was met by two demon-possesed men] who was possessed by demons. He cried out, begging the "Son of the Most High" not to send them before the appointed time. He asks, what is your name?
The man replied, "Legion," because he was filled with many demons. They begged Jesus not to send them to the abyss. Instead, they asked to be sent to a nearby herd of pigs. He honored their request. But the pigs were out of control, and all of the demon-possessed fell off a "steep bank and drowned." The townsfolk asked Jesus to leave.
This is just a few of the many miracles of Jesus. I wanted to point out that particular tale because it shows that Nothing is too Hard for God. Some people say, "Jesus can't save me, I've been toobad." Nothing is too hard for the Lord. If he can heal the blind and the deaf, the crippled and the lame, bring the dead to life and cast out demons, he can forgive you.
Of course, Jesus himself was raised three days after his death. (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20) I want to point something out. In an older entry, called the Harrowing of Hell, I talked about this at length. I believe it is again time to discuss this. Many - but not all, believe that when Jesus died, he descended to the paradise section of Hell - called Abraham's Bosom by some, and remained there for three and a half days.
Understand this: Before Jesus died, there were two sections of Hell. Hell, being the core of the Earth, was separated into two sections by a "Great Chasm" (Luke 16:26), as told by Jesus when he told of the rich man and Lazarus. All of those saved - Adam, Noah, Eve, Sarah, Lot, Jonah, David, Samuel, all those who were faithful to God - were in a "waiting room" in Hell. Half was torment, fire, for the unsaved. The other half, for the saved, it was a paradise, a waiting area until Jesus died to bring them to Heaven.
Jesus himself spoke of being in the Earth for three days. Matthew 12:40, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (NIV, emphasis added.) The KJV version also says "heart of the earth," and many who claim to have been shown Hell say it is the core of the Earth, which makes sense.
Paul also spoke about the "Harrowing of Hell," when he descended. Understand that Jesus, and all those in Abraham's Bosom, were not in pain, not in torment. As aforementioned, Hell was two sections.
Paul says in Ephesians 8-10, "That is why it says: 'When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.' What does 'he ascended' mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? [also translated, "depths of the earth"] He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe."
Consider this blasphemy all you wish, but there are several verses that refer to this. There was a point in bringing all this up: when Jesus rose to life three days later, all of those the the paradise section also rose. Blasphemy? I think not. Let's take a look at Matthew 27:52-53.
"and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were risen to life. They came out of the tombs and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." Now... I'm not sure about you, but this isn't anything I have seen in the movies about Jesus, or books about Jesus. Why is that?
It is because the passage is so misunderstood. But if we understand that Jesus descended to the paradise section, then rose, therefore allowing the saved to also rise, we can understand this better. In other words, Adam and Noah went around Jerusalem saying, "Hello, how are you this afternoon?" That would have been something to experience.
There are also - few, but existent - records of this event. 40 Days after Jesus rose, he ascended to Heaven. In doing so, all of the saved who had died up to that point - that rose, vanished, and, as described by Paul, "When he ascended he took many captives." (Also found in Psalm 68:18, prophecy fulfilled. 1st Samuel 28 also supports the Paradise Section insight.)
Though, we are not sure if the saints rose immediately after Jesus' death or they rose along with him - translations differ, and scholars differ in view. (Acts 2:27;2:31 declare in effect that Hell could not hold the risen Christ, and 1st Peter 3:19-20;4:6 also support this view, that Jesus preached to those in the paradise section.) When the saints rose, the entire core "flooded," becoming fully Hell.
Regardless, when this happened, when Jesus rose to life, he took the keys and opened the doors to heaven, allowing us to go directly to Heaven when he die - IF we accept him as the ONLY way, truth, and life, as the ONLY one who can save us. Jesus proved that not only could he raise those dead for several hours, four days, and even raise himself, but that he could raise people who had been dead for thousands of years - including Adam.
Indeed, the miracles of Jesus are many in number. We have several left to cover, but we will save that for the following entry. I hope that this entry has been helpful and insightful. I always feel an urgency, but I still feel it as I am writing this, so I need to say this last thing.
If God has placed it on your heart to turn to him, please do so, we are never promised tomorrow, and do not know what will happen to us - this may be out only chance. So don't ignore this warning - Jesus asks us to confess with our mouth, "Jesus is Lord," believe in our heart that he is risen from the dead, ask [daily] for forgiveness of our sins, turn from our ways, and we will be saved.Take care, and God Bless. Troy Hillman (firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook)
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