If God desires us to have faith in what is not seen, what is the purpose of miracles?
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The gift of miracles has the same result as all of the gifts of the Spirit. It will not blaspheme Jesus and it brings glory to God alone.
The magician Simon’s method of drumming up miraculous signs for their own sake is an abomination to God (Acts 8). This includes false teachers today who drum up the gift of miracles and healing.
But, God doesn’t usually choose miraculous encounters to bring about His will. In most situations, God is content to work His love and grace despite our weaknesses and failures. Through these weaknesses He is made strong.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 after a bit of “boasting”. He boasted of a man he knew who was “caught up into paradise” (verse 3) and how he would boast on his behalf but not his own.
6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul then continues to apologies for not showing them signs and wonders like the other “super-apostles”.
11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!
Paul then talks about how instead of signs and wonders, his words got the “better of them”:
16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
It appears that Paul, who has not shown as many signs and wonders as the other apostles, is worried that people will think him manipulative. How can words alone be proof enough that God is real? But his worst fears might be realized that by this, people will turn away from God and fall deeply into their own sins. His response is to humble himself in hope that a reconciliation might happen.
Through Our Weakness
God has chosen to bring about His kingdom through our weaknesses.
If God is all powerful and He wishes to prove that power to all around, you might think that coming down to the Earth and proving your power would be enough. Jesus did something like this, though in the end, he humbled himself in death. God chose to reveal his might and power through the death and resurrection of Christ.
If Jesus could have chosen to overcome those who were crucifying Him and save Himself, as the those who passed by mocked:
40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
But why stop there? Why can’t Jesus just destroy anyone who apposes Him? He will do this in Revelation 19, but why wait? Through this fear of His great might, He might prove He is all powerful. But then, secretly many would say, “He is only powerful because of His exceeding might, who can stand against it? Without it, He would be just as feeble as we are.”
So instead, God has taken a different approach. Until Jesus’ second coming, He uses weakness to confound the wise.
1 Corinthians 1
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Paul’s revelations from the Lord through his letters, have far outlasted the miraculous signs of the other apostles. And so miracles are for the moment. They have the most effect upon the people who first see them.
Where Are Miracles of Today?
At some point, if you were given all of the miracles you asked for, it would no longer take faith to believe, and this would give no glory to God.
There was a time, about 2,000 years ago in fact, when Miracles from the Lord happened much more. How did the people respond to this? Spoiler alert… they eventually crucified Him. But even before his crucifixion, Jesus life was in jeopardy.
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
And so, “a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” His response was to show them a sign by the feeding of the 5,000. Wow! These people must have been exceedingly thankful and full of grace! From this point on they were worshipers of God and not themselves! Such a powerful revelation has changed them forever!
24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
So, Jesus is attempting to move away from signs at this point. He’s asking for belief. How do they respond? After experiencing the feeding of the 5,000? How would you respond? In our flesh, we’d simply ask for more.
30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?
What sign! Jesus has already proven Himself with a sign? Why ask for another?
31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Oh, so they want Him to stick around and feed them bread forever and ever. They even quote the scriptures on Jesus.
But why did God feed the Isrealites with manna from heaven? It was to help them as they traveled to the promised land, and it even sustained the unbelieving Israelites while God sent them into the wilderness for 40 years. This was so He might raise up a new generation of Isrealites who will trust and believe in the conquest of the Promised Land.
Manna from heaven is not a doctrine to live by. It was a miraculous moment. And so Jesus responds by revealing what “bread from heaven” symbolized
John 20 (continues)
32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
So… wait! He does all of these miracles… and suddenly he says something you don’t like… that is when you point out that He has an Earthly father and mother and hasn’t come from heaven? Before you quoted the manna from heaven passage as a way to “get more miraculous stuff” from Him, but now that He reveals what the manna from heaven symbolizes… “Oh look at this man who has Earthly parents. How did He come from heaven?”
43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
At this point Jesus had lost them.
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Keep reading and you will find that many of His disciples left Him after this teaching; only the 12 whom He chose remained. Chapter 7 begins with an ominous verse.
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.
And this, my friends, this is why God does not usually reveal Himself through miracles. When miracles happen, it is to bring glory to God and not man.
But look at the age we live in? Everyone is out and about, bringing glory to themselves or other men. Look at all this “stuff” we can have? What need do we have for miracles? Manna from heaven? Only one type of bread? I can go to the nearest Walmart or Target and have more than my fill of bread.
And what about those who profess to do miraculous things before men? Are they doing it for the glory of God? These false teachers and prophets are photo-bombing God’s glory. “If I can just get a picture with God then people will think highly of me.”
Miracles happen today, but more often than not, they are quietly done as the Spirit leads. Writing them down in a book or a blog will do nothing but sensationalize Jesus into a prosperity teaching. This leads to greed not God.
1 Timothy 6
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
And so, in this day in age, the Spirit has willed it so that God’s miracles will not be seen as much. For doing so would make us cravers of money and bread. God’s doctrines point to something far superior.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.