Christianity is based on an extraordinary list of claims relating to the life and death of Jesus Christ. We believe that He was incarnated of the Holy Spirit and had no earthly father; after being put to death, He rose to new life and angels rolled the stone away that sealed His tomb; He appeared to His disciples and many other people after the Resurrection and even ate fish; then He ascended into heaven with His disciples watching.
The Incarnation, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ are recited in the Nicene Creed at mass and in communion services every Sunday.
We believe that Jesus Christ was fully human, but He did some very unusual things such as walking on water; being transfigured in light on a mountaintop; and telling the wind and waves to calm down which brought a storm to an end (Matt 8:23-27). Who was this person who even the elements obeyed?
Water and blood flowed from the pierced side of His dead body (John 19:34-37) – something that does not happen normally. The gospels tell that at the moment of His death darkness fell over the land for three hours, there was an earth quake and the curtain of the temple was split from top to bottom.
In the book of Acts we learn that after rising from the dead, Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost this came down on them unexpectedly, some said they’d had too much wine, but the disciples were proclaiming the things of God in languages they hitherto did not speak. There were many foreign people in Jerusalem, converts to Judaism, there for the Pentecost festival. Peter stood up and addressed the crowd that had gathered saying, “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him ….” (Acts 2:22) After his discourse 3000 Jews converted to following Jesus on that day.
The miracles of Jesus continued after His death, resurrection and ascension among the members of the early church. It is recounted in Acts that Peter and John proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ fearlessly, and healed people in the name of Jesus. In Jerusalem people brought the sick out on mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by (Acts 5:15). The disciples healed the sick in the name of Jesus in the same way that Jesus had healed people.
The gospels tell of an extraordinary person, unique in history. The miracles were signs that show who Jesus was and is – that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God. Other things happened in Jesus’ life, which while not being deemed miraculous, were none-the-less accomplishments of prophecies written down by prophets in the Old Testament thus indicating His identity.
Some time ago there was an attempt by some trendy, but misguided theologians to edit out all the miracles from the New Testament, and present an entirely credible creed for the modern scientifically literate Christian. The result was no gospel and no true message that could be distinguished from the message of any other quite good person.
In Acts 3:15 Peter didn’t mince his words, but told the “men of Israel” that they had “killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.”