If you were Satan, and your goal was to deceive the nations, what kind of plan would you put into place? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If he wanted to convince people that they had found the right “church home”, he would put a lot of “church homes” out there to choose from. Likewise, if he were to make it seem that there were more than one way to go to Heaven, specifically more than one Savior, he would do that also. From the study that I have done, it seems that the purpose of miracles performed by God in the New Testament times was to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
Let’s go to John 20:30-31, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” People back then knew from the prophecies that a Savior would come to rescue them, (See Isaiah 9:6, Daniel 2:44, and Isaiah 53) but it is the true seekers only who will find Him (Acts 17:27).
An example of people eagerly following after other men is given in Acts 5:35-42. Four hundred men followed Theudus, and Judas of Galilee also had a following. We are told that both these men died and their followers were dispersed. Gamaliel, a respected teacher of the Law, gave wise advice to the Council concerning Peter and the apostles. Verse 38 reads, “…stay away from the men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
Luke 3:15 states the situation of the time well, “Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he might be the Christ, John answered and said to them all, ‘As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I.'” As we learn from Scripture, John “paved the way” for Jesus, and clearly stated that he was not the One they were waiting for. After saying these words, all of the Gospels tell of Jesus being baptized by John, but the book of John tells us specifically about what God told him to look for in the Messiah. John 1:33 says that He who sent him to baptize in water told him, “He upon Whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” John 1:36 goes on to say that the next day as John looked upon Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” After His baptism, and John’s declaration, we see the Lord choosing His disciples to come and learn at His feet. Still, we see that Jesus went on to prove to them over and over that He was the Son of God.
The first miracle we see performed in front of all twelve disciples, and a wedding party, is the turning of water to wine. John 2:11, “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” To be sure that these men would continue to teach His message after His death, doesn’t it make sense that they, of all people, would have to be convicted that He was the Chosen One?
What a powerful image we are given in Matthew 14:23-33 of Jesus walking on the water as His disciples were being tossed about in a boat. The disciples were so afraid when they saw Him that we are told “they cried out for fear.” The Lord even has Peter step out of the boat and walk to Him! When they see the storm and the sea calmed, the words are clear, we are told “they worshipped Him saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!” It would seem that one would have a hard time doubting the Lord after witnessing this event, but God continues to show them more.
On two separate occasions Jesus feeds multitudes of people. In Mark 6:44 five thousand are fed, and in Mark 8:9 four thousand are fed, but still Jesus cautioned them about hardened hearts and not yet understanding (verse 17). We have to keep in mind that God’s perfect plan would be sure that the miracles shown, were to the right people at the right time. Besides Judas, who betrayed the Christ, all of the other disciples continued on for the cause of the Lord after His death. God made sure that the right men were chosen for the job!
Word seemed to travel fast in those times about this man, Jesus of Galilee. Matthew 15:30-31 says, “And great multitudes came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them, so that the multitude marveled as the saw the dumb speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.”
Reading through Matthew’s Gospel, I found three examples of the Lord telling or warning people NOT to tell others who had healed them. (These are found in Matthew 8:4, 9:30, and 12:15-16) Again, in Matthew 16:20, He instructs His disciples to tell no one that He is the Christ. This seemed confusing to me, at first when I read it, but then when you read verses like Matthew 9:8, things become clearer as Jesus reveals His goal, “But when the multitudes saw this, they were filled with awe and glorified God.” We already discussed how Jesus fed multitudes of people, now He has healed numerous ones also-but yet it seems that He does not want them coming to Him solely to have their stomachs filled, or their diseases healed. He wants people to see that His power is from God, and that He is to be glorified.
Our Lord sacrificed Himself by coming to this earth to fulfill the will of God and set the perfect plan into play. He knows all, so He knew Satan would be hard at work deceiving, so miracles were given to prove that He is the one and only Son of God. They were shown to the common people, to the Scribes and Pharisees, to anyone who sought Him out. They were shown to His disciples also, as we have seen, as they would “carry the torch” after His death.
He knew they would be convicted, and that’s why they were chosen. He was diligent to prepare them for His upcoming death (Matthew 16:21, 20:18-19, 26:2) also, so after all these events took place, with hindsight, they would see how all the pieces of the prophecies fit perfectly into place: Jesus is the Son of God; He would die a cruel death; He would rise again. They would see Him rise up into the clouds and would go out from there to spread the Good News.
This brings to mind a beautiful hymn, “My Jesus Knows Just What I Need.” Part of the chorus says, “He satisfies, and every need provides, yes, He knows just what I need.” The Lord knew exactly what proofs needed to be given, to whom, when, and where. The book of John states it perfectly, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.” John 21:25
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By Robin Martin
Robin Martin and her husband Randy are members at the South Twin Cities Church of Christ in Rosemount, MN, where Randy ministers as an elder. They just celebrated their 30 year wedding anniversary! They have seven children together, four of whom have married Christian spouses, giving them eight grandchildren! Robin enjoys running her in-home licensed daycare, teaching the baby and toddler classes for the church, leading ladies’ devotionals, and has had the privilege of speaking at Ladies Days in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa. She loves to sew, quilt, cook, host events, and spend time with her family and friends!