Today’s read covered parts of Matthew 8-9 and Mark 4-5, which describe some of the miracles that Jesus did as He traveled throughout Galilee and the surrounding areas. A storm on the Sea of Galilee threatens to overturn the boat as He and His disciples cross over. Jesus calms it with three simple words. A man possessed by a legion of demon spirits approaches Jesus. The demons immediately recognize Him and beg to be cast into a herd of 2,000 pigs, rather than into the abyss (their future, eternal destination). Jesus grants them permission; the pigs end up going over a steep embankment into the lake and drowning while the man is restored to his right mind. Jarius’ daughter is raised from the dead. A woman is healed of a blood disease simply by touching the hem of his garment. The blind receive sight, and the mute speak.
Why is the purpose of these miracles, and why don’t we see things like this happening today? John tells us that Jesus performed many other miracles which were not recorded, but “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31; 21:25)
Miracles authenticate the power and authority of the one performing them. In the O.T., God gave His prophets power to perform miracles at certain times so that their words would be authenticated as coming from God. Later, after Jesus ascends, the apostles will perform miracles at times to authenticate that their words about Jesus are true. Jesus did miraculous things because He was compassionate and kind, and the physical suffering of people touched His heart. But the greater purpose was always to give evidence that the kingdom of God had come, that He was who He said He was.
I believe miracles still occur today, and their purpose is the same. We often ask for miracles to relieve our physical suffering or get us out of some unfortunate circumstance or rescue us from physical death. Sometimes God does answer, and miracles do occur, but they seem (to us) to be few and far between in comparison to the many miracles performed by Jesus. But do we need physical miracles today to prove that Jesus is who He says He is?
I think not. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are historical facts. He has proven Himself, and now our faith rests in the hope of His promises, that He has accomplished salvation, forgiven us of sin, and eternal life in His presence is our future. The miracle of salvation is enough for me.
I agree with John Piper, who concludes that “if we could collect all the authentic stories all over the world — from all the missionaries and all the saints in the all the countries of the world, all the cultures of the world — if we could collect all the millions of encounters between Christians and demons and Christians and sickness and all the so-called coincidences of the world, we would be stunned. We would think we were living in a world of miracles, which we are.”(1)
Miracles still occur as God determines them to be necessary to authenticate the truth of the gospel. God is still active in our world, but we’re so busy and distracted we are often unaware of it. But miracles aren’t necessary for you to believe; God has already proven Himself. Let us be people of faith who take God at His word and believe, not petulant children who demand an exhibition. As Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29)