Why did our Lord perform miracles?
Alan H. Linton, Bristol, England
THE miraculous element in the New Testament often proves a difficulty to the reception of the Gospel by many young people whom we seek to reach. What do the Scriptures teach about the miracles and why do the writers of the Gospels and our Lord Himself, consider them to be an integral part of their ministry? In general the miracles of our Lord were a manifestation of the power of God working through Him, and were performed to awaken saving faith in Him, Luke 5. 17; Acts 2. 22; John 20. 30-31.
1. Miracles were a Sign that a New Age had Dawned
When accused of casting out demons by satanic power, our Lord replied that His miracles were a herald of the coming of the kingdom of God, Matt. 12. 28.
2. Miracles were Manifestations of the Power of the Holy Spirit
In the words of the apostle Peter: *. . . God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; . . .', Acts 10. 38.
3. Miracles were a Fulfilment of Messianic Prophecy
In reply to John Baptist's query about His Messiahship, our Lord lists a number of His miracles which were the fulfilment of prophecy, e.g., Isa. 32. 3; 35. 5; 42. 7. Could any clearer proof of His Messiahship be given! 4. Miracles were a means of conveying New Testament Teaching
Associated with miracles we have repentance; Matt. 11. 21; forgive-ness and faith; Mark 2. 1-12; 5. 25-34; death and resurrection, Mark 5- 35-43; and Christian service following salvation, Mark 1. 29-31.
5. Miracles revealed the Lord Jesus to those who understood them
Miracles revealed Him as the Lord of nature. In the miracle of the storm we have a striking example of this, Mark 4. 35-41. The wind and the sea recognized the voice of their Creator. Other miracles, e.g., the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, demonstrate His creative power, John 6. 7-14. Miracles revealed Him as the Christy the Son of God. In Mark 6 to 8 and Matthew 16 we have a series of miracles culminating in Peter's confession, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God'. Twice in these chapters the failure of the disciples to appreciate the inner meaning of the miracles is noted, Mark 6. 52; 8. 17-21. Like the blind man of Bethsaida who at first saw men only as 'trees walking', Peter's understanding of Christ was imperfect, but later by means of the progressive unfolding of the miracles he was led to a fuller understanding of the Lord. No wonder Matthew emphasizes that this revelation to Peter was a miracle, Matt. 16. 17. It is just as truly a miracle today, a miracle wrought by God, when we can say, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God'.
The miracles, therefore, are clearly not an end in themselves, but a means to an end. They are an integral part of the New Testament revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. To quote the word of Augustine: 'Let us ask of the miracles themselves what they tell us about Christ; for if they be understood, they have a tongue of their own . . they are not as pictures, merely to look at and admire, but as letters which we must seek to read and understand'.