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Let’s consider again the miracles of raising the dead.

The Old Testament used the words “dead” and “alive” in a spiritual sense. Ezekiel (18:21) records:

But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

In Matthew, Jesus announced to one of his disciples who wished to go and bury his father, “let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22). The “dead” that Jesus referred to in the first instance meant the spiritually dead, not the physically dead. Continuing in the same vein, Saint Paul also used the words “dead” and “alive” in a spiritual sense. He wrote to the Ephesians (2:1) “And you hath he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Thus when “death” and the “raising from the dead” are discussed in the Bible, we have to consider possible spiritual meanings.

So when John the Baptist asked who Jesus was, was Jesus referring to miracles or metaphors when He responded in Matthew 10:5?

The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Was Jesus referring to physical or spiritual transformations? When Jesus sent his disciples out, were they sent out to be physicians or to heal souls? It is worth noting that many famous Christians have understood that the real work of Jesus was spiritual in character. Albert Schweitzer provides a good review in The Quest of the Historical Jesus, which also cites the symbolic meaning of the words “dead” and “alive,” and explains their metaphorical use in the language of faith.

Miracles are not a good proof of faith. This does not mean that God’s Chosen Ones cannot or do not work miracles. They may heal individuals, but the greater miracle every Prophet of God brings is much more universal — they affect all things.

Christ healing the mother of Simon PeterIn our times, many disbelieve in miracles. While skepticism is essential, and many recorded miracles are clearly exaggerations or misunderstandings, we must all remember that creation itself is essentially miraculous. To miss the wonder, the awe and the beauty of our miraculous planet is to miss the most miraculous thing of all. But in this modern age, the Baha’i teachings maintain, we must focus on what science and reason will support:

Religion must stand the analysis of reason. It must agree with scientific fact and proof so that science will sanction religion and religion fortify science. Both are indissolubly welded and joined in reality. If statements and teachings of religion are found to be unreasonable and contrary to science, they are outcomes of superstition and imagination. Innumerable doctrines and beliefs of this character have arisen in the past ages. Consider the superstitions and mythology of the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians; all were contrary to religion and science. It is now evident that the beliefs of these nations were superstitions, but in those times they held to them most tenaciously. For example, one of the many Egyptian idols was to those people an authenticated miracle, whereas in reality it was a piece of stone. As science could not sanction the miraculous origin and nature of a piece of rock, the belief in it must have been superstition. It is now evident that it was superstition. Therefore, we must cast aside such beliefs and investigate reality. That which is found to be real and conformable to reason must be accepted, and whatever science and reason cannot support must be rejected as imitation and not reality. Then differences of belief will disappear. All will become as one family, one people, and the same susceptibility to the divine bounty and education will be witnessed among mankind. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175.

The truth is that miracles occur constantly because the Hand of God, the Holy Spirit, stays ever active among us. God lives and creates and shapes reality all the time. Miracles are not rare and past, they are in great profusion and present — but we must have eyes to see them. The birth of a child is certainly a miracle, as is the teeming life in every corner of the earth and the awakening awareness of every soul.

If we focus too much on fantastic tales of the past, we may miss the real miracles of the present.


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