This is a good question. Why did Jesus perform miracles? Everywhere he went he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, raised paralytics, raised the dead and much, much more. In so many ways he relieved the suffering of the people around Jerusalem and the region of Galilee. But Jesus never did anything without reason and a purpose, so it begs the question, why did Jesus perform miracles?
The Obvious Reason
OK. So the obvious reason is what I have already mentioned above. He did the healings and other things for the purpose of relieving those who were suffering. There is no doubt that the human condition is such that we do suffer many aches, pains and illnesses. Some suffer disabilities that prevent them functioning fully as God intended. So the first and obvious reason is that he wanted to prevent such suffering.
God created the world and created man and so he did not and does not want to see man suffer. He wants the very best for His people and His creation. So it makes sense that if His people are suffering or their health and well being are less than optimal, he would want to see it improved.
But is that reason enough? Surely if this were the case He could remove all sickness and illness from the world today and make this a better world? Is it right that people continue to suffer today if God could heal everyone miraculously?
So perhaps the reason for the miracles is not simply the improved health and well being of mankind. Perhaps there is a less obvious reason.
Beyond the Obvious
In fact there is a less obvious reason. The primary reason why Jesus performed miracles is pointed at in this section of scripture. When this man came to him seeking a healing for his son, Jesus responded saying, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” (verse 48)
Jesus was saying to all who heard that their faith was not based on the word he was preaching but in seeing the signs and wonders. This situation seemed to be an issue for the Jews in that time for Paul also showed this same point in 1 Corinthians 1:22 saying, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom.”
The people wanted signs to prove what they were seeing and hearing. And Jesus provided those signs and wonders as evidence of the truth of the gospel.
The primary purpose of the signs and wonders he performed was not the actual healings, it was to provide a sign as a witness to the truth of the words he was preaching. As he spoke the truth of the gospel the signs attested to the fact that what he was saying was true. Jesus said as much at the end of the gospel of Mark. When the disciples went out to preach Jesus said, “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” (Mark 16:20)
The purpose of the miraculous signs is to bear witness to the truth. Jesus showed this too when he healed the paralytic who was let down through the roof. Look carefully at the following scripture from the gospel of Matthew 9:1-9.
1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city.
2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”
4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he then said to the paralytic-“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
7 And he rose and went home.
Jesus told the man that his sins were forgiven. The scribes thought this was blasphemy as they thought only God has the power to forgive sins. So to prove that He had the right and the authority to forgive sins on earth, He then performed the miracle saying to the sick man to rise and walk. The miracle confirmed the word and bore witness to the truth of the message that Jesus was giving.
This is a perfect example of the miracles bearing witness to the truth of the gospel. And this example shows the real purpose of the miracles as the people then believed the truth of what Jesus spoke.
Which brings us to today. We have seen that Jesus confirmed the truth of the message by the signs and wonders that attended the preaching of the truth. There are doubtless many in the Christian church who would like to operate the miraculous gifts today. So the question now arises, how come we don’t see these miracles operating today as they did back then?
Well they do still operate today but not in as controlled or directed manner as they did in the past. By that I mean that there is no one to my knowledge who could walk up to a paralytic and say “Rise and walk” and it would happen. But there are definitely miraculous healings occurring today as I can personally testify. (Check my testimonies here.)
In my opinion there are a few reasons why these miraculous gifts do not occur as they did in the biblical times.
First, the purpose of the miracles is to bear witness to the truth AS JESUS TAUGHT IT. Is there anyone today that can say they are teaching EXACTLY what Jesus taught? Does anyone have the fullness of the truth of the gospel as Jesus taught it and as delivered by Him to the disciples? In my opinion I doubt that anyone, including and especially myself, has that fullness of the truth today…yet! I do believe that it will come but not yet.
Does that mean we should not listen to what anyone says because they don’t have the full truth? Absolutely not! We need to hear what the Lord has taught different people so we can sift the good from the bad and increase our own knowledge of the truth. For example, Presbyterians believe in a church governed by an eldership and that is a biblical truth. Baptists believe in water baptism and that is a biblical truth. Pentecostals believe in receiving the Holy Spirit and the signs attending, and that is a spiritual truth. The Salvation Army believes in the principle of salvation and that is a biblical truth. Martin Luther first expounded the biblical truth of righteousness by faith.
And I could carry on this way looking at all of the other beliefs of different churches today. In all of them there are segments of the truth of the gospel as Jesus and the disciples taught it, but they each also have a some erroneous beliefs too. The responsibility each of us has is to sift through these things and to seek the truth because ultimately it is not a miracle or the ability to do miracles that is going to save you. It is your faith in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and your obedience to him in accordance with the truth that will save you.
A second reason I believe we don’t see the miracles today is that there is no one yet advanced sufficiently in the truth of the gospel and whose life has been sufficiently transformed that the Lord could trust them with such power. The Lord knew what man was like and he Himself did not trust himself to any man because he knew what was in man (John 2:24-25). And what is in man? Greed, lust for power, passion, self-seeking and self-serving attitudes, pride and so on. Doubtless there are good people in the world but the lure of such power could turn a person if they are not able to handle it.
Which brings me to the third reason. It’s not time yet for the miracles to be outpoured. The Lord has shown that there will be a great invitation sent out to bring in all those from the highways and the byways so that the full complement of his people are gathered together. I believe we will see the miraculous gifts poured out in that time as it was when the first invitation went out via the apostles after the Lord was resurrected and had returned to the Father.
And what we will see at that time will resolve the first two points above. The outpouring will be through someone, more likely a group of people, who the Lord finds fully trustworthy because they have been transformed through the working of the truth in their life. And they will be teaching the true New Covenant just as Jesus and the apostles taught it. My reasons for these opinions are identified in the bible and can be seen in the following scriptures.
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus shows as one of the signs of the end, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” the key here is “this gospel” must be preached before the end comes. Not just any gospel and not something that is partly true but the truth of the gospel as Jesus and the apostles taught it. That is what is meant by “this gospel.” Jesus also promised that when the truth of the gospel is preached he would confirm the truth with signs and wonders attending it (Mark 16:20) and in those last days I am certain this will occur once again.
These of course are my opinions and I am sure there are many others who have similar and differing opinions. So please feel free to comment. What are your thoughts concerning miracles? I am looking to see and hear as much as I can so that I too can sift the good from the bad and learn the truth as that is what is most important.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Sar Castillo)
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