What Exactly is a Biblical Miracle? 3 Key Things Your Kids Should Understand

What Exactly is a Biblical Miracle? | Christian Mom ThoughtsA few weeks ago in our family worship time, we were studying the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14). After we finished the story, I asked what I thought was a pretty straight forward question: “So, how did Jesus feed 5,000 people with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish?”

Kenna responded, “He must have cut the bread and fish into little tiny pieces to feed that many people!”

It was such a simple and logical answer, but it said so much about her young understanding of miracles. A million coloring pages of Jesus walking on water (which I’m pretty sure is the count coming home from Sunday school in the last couple of years) won’t teach our kids some basic concepts central to the understanding of biblical miracles.

Here are three key things our kids need to understand about the nature and purpose of miracles in the Bible.

 

1.    Miracles are supernatural.

One of the most common pejorative statements I see atheists make is that Christians believe someone can walk on water, a dead man can come back to life, animals can talk, and so on. The underlying assumption is that Christians foolishly believe these things are possible within the bounds of our natural world and its laws, when clearly we should see that they aren’t.

This is not a correct understanding of biblical miracles. Christians do NOT believe that miracles are naturally possible, just as atheists do not. We agree! The point of difference is that Christians believe miracles are possible on a supernatural level, and atheists don’t believe a supernatural level even exists.

I realize this distinction sounds a little theoretical, but it’s very important and actually quite simple to explain to kids in a practical sense. I told my kids (age 4) that if Jesus merely chopped the bread into 5,000 pieces, that would be something anyone can do, because that is how our world works (when you chop many times, it makes many pieces). What Jesus did was a miracle because it was something that can’t be explained by how we know our world works; food doesn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere! Jesus could do miracles because He had the power of God, and anything is possible for God. God is not limited by how our world works.

 

2.    Miracles proved who Jesus was.

This is the million dollar point that I don’t think I really understood the significance of until a couple of years ago when I started reading apologetics.

Jesus needed to do something while He was on earth to provide evidence (yes, evidence!) that He truly was the son of God. Think about it – He was making bold claims of divinity; how could people know that what He said was true?

Jesus didn’t just tell people to have “faith” that what He was saying was true. He used miracles – acts not possible by someone without God’s power – to prove it. Jesus understood the need for evidence to legitimize His claims. The resurrection was the ultimate miracle that proved to His followers that He was who He said He was.

To demonstrate this to my kids, I put on a mini-act where I told them I was God. I claimed that I wanted them to eat cookies every day because it’s good for them and that they needed to listen because I was God. They laughed and said they didn’t believe me because I’m not God! I told them over and over that I’m God. After a while, we talked about what it would have been like for Jesus’ friends to hear Him say He was the son of God. They had to have a way of knowing He wasn’t just a regular person saying that (like mommy was in the cookie example). Jesus did things only God could do to prove He really was God.

 

3.    Miracles are still historical events.

The disciple Thomas did not believe that the other disciples had seen a resurrected Jesus. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

When the resurrected Jesus appeared to Thomas, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus replied, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

This is an incredibly rich passage for Christians. Even though miracles are outside of our scientific understanding and laws, they are observable by witnesses and have natural/historical outcomes. The apostles historically observed the miracle of the resurrection, which led to a conviction so strong that they were willing to die for their beliefs. Their willingness to die was undoubtedly based in large part on their knowledge that they had witnessed the resurrection miracle.

We demonstrated this to our kids by talking about how difficult life was for the apostles after Jesus died. The miracles He did were so amazing that the apostles had no doubt that Jesus was God and they were willing to do whatever it took – endure beatings, jail and death – to tell the whole world about Him. Today we know about Jesus in large part because of what the apostles did after witnessing His miracles!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts – what else should kids know about miracles?

19 Comments

  1. Jennifer on September 20, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    My nephew’s dad has a horrible disease that is slowly killing him. My oldest nephew is 8, and he is really struggling with WHY God hasn’t healed his dad. They come from the belief that faith heals you in the sense that if you had enough faith, God would heal you, so if you aren’t getting healed, it’s because you dont have enough faith. It’s tearing my nephew apart to the point where he is questioning whether Jesus was real at all. Kids need to know that it is the power of God who heals us. He alone gets to determine when and if a miracle will occur, and it’s not something we have in our control, even in regard to our faith. I’m sure you could put this in better words, but anyway, it’s one thing I think stands out when it comes to miracles.



    • Natasha Crain on September 23, 2013 at 2:59 PM

      That is such a devastating situation. You’re right, that’s a whole other type of miracle discussion that needs to be had outside the realm of miracles in the Bible specifically. I think you put it in perfect words – it’s not something we have in our control, even with respect to our faith. I hope you have the opportunity to talk to your nephew and offer some comfort, though I can imagine it’s a difficult situation if you differ in beliefs from his parents. What a sad story this is. 🙁



    • Monty Eastman on October 25, 2017 at 12:15 PM

      My wife became very ill and passed away. My son was 10 at the time. We prayed for her to get better. After she passed, I told him that God answered that prayer because her physical body had so many limitations and now that she was in heaven, she was healthier than she had ever been. Sometimes when we pray for healing, the only way for true healing is for them to go to heaven where there is no more suffering or pain or tears. God is faithful and answers us, it’s jut not in the way that WE want it answered. We forget that God knows all and He knows what the life would have been like for us if my wife had not passed away. I have to trust knowing that God knew what was best for her and ultimately for my son and I.



      • KRISTINE on November 25, 2017 at 5:39 AM

        My deep condolence to you and your son. I agree, only God determines when a life should start and end for each of us just as how He already know us before we’re born and what name we’re about to get, and how many hairs do we have. It’s God working in all of us. He knows when should a miracle happen. He also knows when should His faithful servant has to go home.



  2. Lisa on September 20, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Great reminders that He did prove He was God. Loved your opening question. I asked my children the same thing. The older they are the better they understand. I guess that makes it a good idea to continue to review these historical facts with them so their understanding grows as they do.
    Blessings!



    • Natasha Crain on September 23, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      Hi Lisa, Thanks so much for your comment! I’m trying to ask questions about their understanding more often, because it opens the doors to better conversations than I could have imagined just “teaching”! Your point is important, that we have to continuing reviewing what we discuss over the years. Even as an adult, I find that I might read a book that doesn’t resonate much, then come back to it two years later when different experiences and knowledge makes it more relevant. It’s the same times ten for our kids, whose understanding grows by leaps and bounds in the same time!



  3. Martha Orlando on September 20, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    What great ways to explain to children the power of God and His love shown to us through Jesus! That God chose to enter into time and become a part of our human history is a miracle in itself. We have been blessed!
    Thank you for this awesome post!



    • Natasha Crain on September 23, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      Hi Martha, Absolutely – we can’t miss the miracle that God would choose to become part of human history! Thank you for that point and your kind words!



  4. Nicole on September 30, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Excellent points that, as adults, we don’t even consider when trying to explain to a child. Thank you for sharing!



  5. Al on February 28, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    I believe that our faith grows as we exercise it just as our muscles grow as we exercise them. And most people only exercise their muscles when they believe it will produce results. Someone once said that faith is spelled R I S K.



  6. Noelle on August 17, 2014 at 4:59 AM

    I love your example of asking about the bread. I teach Children’s Church to 3-7 year olds and you helped me evaluate the idea of miracles from a child’s perspective. I intend to use this idea as an object lesson and have them tear slices of bread. The children will be able to see how tiny the pieces would be and that the people would still have been hungry if the bread had been multiplied in that manner. In John, it says that the people had “enough to eat” and collected the pieces left over. Thank you for your wisdom and ideas.



  7. Edward on November 2, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Another way of describing a miracle is: — It’s an orderly proceeding
    on a plane higher than our present comprehension.



  8. Mary on December 6, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    What do you mean “miracles are still historical events?” Aren’t they historical events and today’s events as well? God is the same today, yesterday, and forever. Perhaps we don’t believe Him for miracles like they did historically.



  9. Dee Noble on October 12, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    I usually teach the preschoolers and early elementary children at church…I use these 3 simple points.
    1. Always from God
    2 Against nature…doesn’t naturally happen
    3. happened Immediately.
    Now I’m adding a fourth point thanks to you…
    4. Proved who Jesus IS.
    I also made a poster with some pictures… magic hat tricks, growing corn, lightning and rain, sick child with doctor, ect… then added Contest with Baal on Mt. Carmel picture, Jesus walking on water, lame walking again, blind seeing, ect.. the children velcro a yes green smiling picture to what IS a miracle and a red NO frowning face to NOT miracles. Seems to work pretty well. Dee



  10. Sommer on November 15, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    Thank you Natasha for this insight! Sometimes we assume the kids know what we’re talking about and forget to teach the basics. This really helped with my lesson for class!



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  12. andiswa dubula on November 1, 2016 at 6:41 AM

    It is really great how u make the example of bread ill defiantly share with th boys! Thank you!!!



  13. Mavis on September 17, 2017 at 6:20 AM

    I also believe that miracles are for today also. Jesus told us in John 14: 12-14 that we would do the works that He did and would do even greater things because He was going to His father. That we can ask in His name so He and the Father would receive the Glory of the greater things that would be done in His name (Miracles).



  14. sharron Dee on September 17, 2017 at 11:44 AM

    Your teaching on miracles for children is very insightful thank you all for sharing.

    Sharron Dee