Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 22, 1962
NUMBER 41, PAGE 4,12a

"What Mean Such Mighty Works?"


This is the question asked by the astonished Nazarenes when Jesus began to teach in their synagogue, and when the report of his miracles began to be circulated. They asked one another, "Whence hath this man these things? and what is the wisdom that is given unto this man, and what mean such mighty works wrought by his hands?" (Mark 6:1-6) The doubt and skepticism given voice by his countrymen has found its counterpart in every age since Jesus walked among men. In some ages it has been intense; in others it has almost faded from view. The wave or rationalism coming out of Germany and sweeping the world at the time of the French Revolution was one of the most serious of all. It undermined the faith of millions, and brought on a period of moral depression and spiritual degeneration which has been one of the blackest in history. Hitlerism and the Nazi amorality of our own day can be traced directly to the pagan philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and his doctrine of the "Superman"; and Nietzsche (1844-1900) was the very embodiment of the rationalistic attitude. The very thought of a "miracle" was laughable to these naturalists who scoffed at any power above the laws of nature, and in a thousand different ways, and in ten thousand different books, iterated and reiterated the mockery which Peter foretold, saying "from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

We are not so much concerned right now, however, with the possibility of miracles as we are with the significance of them. Most of those who read this page will already have accepted the fact of the miraculous, but how many have truly realized the significance of such a fact?

The first and most obvious implication of a miracle, the towering and inescapable inference to be drawn from its happening, is the existence of some Power which is above and beyond the control of nature — which, indeed, can convince of humanity is concerned, there is no force greater than the natural world. All human achievements, from the building of skyscrapers to the launching of space flights are but a utilization of natural laws and natural forces. And as humanity learns more and more of this fascinating world in which we move, achievements of the future may be even more dazzling than those of the past — all of it in complete harmony with natural law.

But when some event occurs for which "natural law" could offer no explanation at all (even if ALL natural law were fully comprehended), which not only has no explanation in natural law, but which clearly supersedes and suspends temporarily the working of natural law, then we have clearly demonstrated for us the existence or a "supernatural" power — incontrovertible proof of the existence of God. That is one positive and imperative implication of a miracle.

In our hours of need and emergency, when the sophistry and cynicism of the world have been stripped from us by the cold hand of danger or tragedy, the soul intuitively turns to Him alone who can help. In the hour of darkness the heart of man perceives truth that his head may not have recognized when the skies were clear. Elizabeth Barrett Browning has put the truth into a bit of verse:

"There is no God," the foolish saith;

But none "There is no sorrow;"

And nature oft the cry of faith

In bitter need will borrow.

Eyes which the preacher could not school

By wayside graves are raised;

And lips say, "God be pitiful,"

Who ne'er said, "God be praised."

There is, however, a second implication in the bringing about of a miracle — the one by whom the miracle is wrought is a person who has contact with God. The divinity of Christ himself was established before the people of his day (and all succeeding generations) by the miracles he wrought. Nicodemus spoke truly when he said to him, "We know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him." (John 3:2) Peter said of him that he was "approved unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him." When the centurion who stood by the cross of Christ observed how the sun hid his face for three full hours at mid-day, and how the rocks of the earth writhed and were rent when Jesus died, and how all nature seemed to be in torment, he knew of a certainty that this was no ordinary man who was dying. He said, "Truly this man was the Son of God." (Mark 15:39)

There is still a third inference to be drawn from a miraculous occurrence: not only does God exist, and not only does the one working the miracle have power from God to bring this to pass, but the words of that miracle-worker are to be accepted as carrying all the authority of God himself. Indeed, many of the miracles recorded in the Bible were wrought for the very purpose of giving authority and power to the message which was to be delivered by the miracle-worker. The message was more important than the miracle, as the latter served only to confirm and authenticate the former.

"What mean such mighty works?" the men of Nazareth asked. Well, we may not know all the significance of such works, but there are a few solemn facts which are inescapable: God is; God is empowering the miracle-worker; and the message from the lips of that man is to be received as absolutely authoritative. "Men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" is the way one miracle-worker described such things. This is the very touchstone of our faith. We cannot accept one of these truths and reject the others. They stand as a unit — there can be no separation.

F. Y. T.