The biblical definition of a miracle would be an event that involves the powerful and direct action of God, going beyond the ordinary laws of nature and defying common behavior expectations. Miracles are remarkable occurrences that can only be credited to God’s supernatural work and show His involvement in human history. In the Bible, God uses miracles to show Himself, His character, and His purposes to humans through occurrences that aren’t otherwise explainable, as detailed in Exodus 3:1-6.
Miracles supply evidence of God’s power and presence in the world and show His authority on behalf of His servants. A miracle may happen through a human agent or performed directly by God. Other words used to describe miracles in the Bible are wonders and signs, mighty works, and powers. One of the most notable miracles is God’s creation of the world and everything in it, as detailed in Genesis 1:1-3:24. Equally as astounding is the miracle of the Incarnation, that the Son of God took on human flesh and then overcame death and the powers of hell so His believers might gain eternal life.
The Bible shares several different forms of miracles. The Old Testament details uncommon celestial events, like the time the Lord caused the moon and sun to stand still in order to help Joshua’s army at Gibeon in their win over the Amorite kings. Other instances of God’s divine control over nature, like the crossing of the Jordan River and parting the Red Sea, are shown in the Old Testament. God can miraculously cause inanimate objects and animals to act in astonishing ways. Miracles of immediate healing, like when Naaman is cured of leprosy or when Jesus heals two blind men, appear in the Old and New Testaments. In the New Testament, miracles are performed through human intermediaries, like the apostles, but mainly through Jesus.
In all four Gospels, miracles play an important role in Jesus’ ministry. He performs miracles of healing, control over nature, and provision of food. Miracles in the New Testament consistently show God’s power and either demonstrate or confirm the message of salvation in Jesus. The Gospels record about 37 of Jesus’ miracles, although the apostle John stresses that these only scratch the surface of everything our Savior did.
What was Jesus’ last miracle?
The Gospels record one of the most dramatic events during Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane: a disciple cutting off the right ear of the high priest’s servant, as detailed in Luke 22:50-51. Then, John’s account fills in the details: Peter is the one who hit and cut off the ear of the servant named Malchus. It was a late night after a long day, and Peter was exhausted. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter had fallen asleep several times while he was supposed to be praying. Each time, Jesus woke him up. Then, a mob led by Judas appeared in Gethsemane to arrest Jesus.
Scared and shocked, Peter acted on impulse to defend Jesus, swinging his sword and cutting off Malchus’s ear in the chaos. Jesus rebuked Peter and told him to put his sword back, for those who draw the sword will die by the sword. Then, Jesus let Himself be taken. It’s strange that Peter would cut off someone’s ear in this situation. It’s also unlikely that he was aiming for Malchus’ ear and nothing else; Peter wanted to cause a more severe injury. There are two ways Malchus’s ear could’ve been hit: Peter swung his sword vertically, aiming to cleave Malchus’s skull, or he swung his sword horizontally, aiming for the neck or head.
Either way, Malchus moved his head out of the swinging sword’s way, which grazed the right side of his head and cut off his ear, which likely saved his life. Why did Peter participate in swordplay in the first place? It seems the tired and rash apostle believed that Jesus needed his help to stop His arrest, but Jesus corrected him. Jesus had all types of help available to Him, as detailed in Matthew 26:53-54.
This arrest wasn’t an accident. Jesus knew it was coming, and if He really wanted to stop His crucifixion, He wouldn’t have needed Peter’s sword because all of the angels of heaven would’ve come instantly if summoned. However, the Scriptures must be fulfilled, and Jesus had to go to the cross. After stopping the violence, Jesus reattached and healed Malchus’s ear, His last earthly miracle. Even after witnessing this phenomenon of mercy, the mob proceeded to arrest Him.
After rising from the dead, Jesus came to His disciples on numerous occasions. John 21 details the third of those instances, including the notable mention of 153 fish. Peter and the other disciples had just witnessed another miracle of Jesus involving a large amount of fish, and Simon Peter got back into the boat, dragging the net onto dry land. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net wasn’t torn, as detailed in John 21:11. This time, Jesus appeared to His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius as they were coming back from an unsuccessful fishing trip. Jesus, whom they hadn’t recognized yet, called to the disciples from the shore and asked them if they’d caught any fish.
After the disciples responded and said they didn’t, Jesus told them to cast their nets on the starboard side of the boat. They did and caught so many fish that they couldn’t bring in the nets, as explained in John 21:6. John quickly realized that the man on the shore was Jesus and told Peter. Then, Peter jumped into the water to swim to the shore to see Jesus. The other disciples came in the boat, as they were only about 100 yards from the shore. When they got to shore, Peter returned to the boat to help them gather the fish, and they counted 153 fish.
The significance of the 153 fish in John 21:11 is apparent from the context. As fishermen, the disciples were no strangers to the process of counting their catch. These fish were big enough to strain the fisherman and the nets, though they were miraculously not torn. John’s mention of the number of 153 fish highlights the fact that something miraculous had happened because someone remarkable was there. The 153 fish provided further evidence that the resurrected Jesus had power over nature, as He demonstrated before His crucifixion. The 153 fish might seem insignificant compared to other miracles but to an audience of fishermen who didn’t catch even one fish during an entire night of work, this extraordinary catch gave more evidence that their belief in Jesus was well-placed.