As I mentioned previously, the purpose of the miracles was the confirm the truth. After Jesus gives a Commission of preaching repentance and baptism throughout the world, He tells the apostles they will do miracles. It concludes with Mark’s recording, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20).
Confirmation In John
There were false Messiahs working in the first century, Jesus warns His disciples about them (Matthew 24:4). The Jewish teacher Gamaliel mentions the failed missions of a few Messianic pretenders in the recent Jewish past (Acts 5:35-37). Jesus Christ and His disciples needed something to make them stand out, to corroborate their message. The first century miracles fit the bill perfectly according to God’s wisdom.
The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were all written close together, most likely in the 60s AD. John’s record comes thirty years later. His emphasis is on the Deity of Jesus. He makes his case by use of the corroborating miracles of Jesus. After changing the water to unfermented wine at the wedding feast at Cana, John notes, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). The Pharisee Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night and confesses that the other Pharisees admit that He must be from God because “no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).
A nobleman tells Jesus that his son is sick in Capernaum. Jesus tells him that his son is already healed. He returns and on the way meets one of his servants coming to meet him, and tells him his son has recovered. When he learns that this took place the same time he spoke to Jesus, he believed in Him, and consequently, so did his household (John 4:53). When Jesus and His disciples happen upon a man born blind, they ask if he or his parents had sinned. Jesus replies, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). When Lazarus died, Jesus said of this, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). The greatest miracle ever is the Resurrection of Jesus. It, in fact, proves that He is the Son of God (Romans 1:4). At the close of John’s record, he notes, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, 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 20:30-31).
Confirmation In The Synoptics
The three synoptic gospel also demonstrate that Jesus’s miracles confirmed the truth. When John the Baptist was arrested, his disciples ask Him if He is the Messiah. Jesus does not explicitly state the word Yes, but He does answer in the affirmative. He tells them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:4-5). A paralytic man is lowered through a hole dug in the roof of a crowded house in order to see Jesus. In response to this display of faith, Jesus says his sins are forgiven. The witnesses grumble because only God can forgive. To prove that He has such spiritual power, He demonstrates His authority over the physical by healing him, which astonishes the assembly (Mark 2:9-12). Early in His ministry, Jesus is pressed by the people and sets out into the Galilean Sea and addresses the people. Jesus tells Simon, the boat’s owner, to set out into the deep waters and drop his nets. Simon is at first frustrated because he had fished unsuccessfully all night, but at His word, he agreed. They caught so many fish the nets were breaking. This leads to the faith of Simon, who elsewhere in the Bible is known as the apostle Peter (Luke 5:4-9).
Confirmation In Acts
As it was with Jesus, so too was it with His apostles. The Book of Acts records their ministries, which has many examples of miracles done to confirm the preaching of the truth. Peter and John heal a lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. The occasion became such a spectacle that Peter preached Christ at that moment. They were arrested by the Sanhedrin, and later the rest of the apostles, and told not to preach the name of Christ any more, but the apostles refused. The Sanhedrin wanted to punish them, but decided not to because they feared the people, and the apostles glorified God because of what had been done (Acts 4:21). The gospel is taken to Samaria by Philip the evangelist. He preaches and heals the sick. As a result, “the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (Acts 8:6). Peter passes through Lydda where a lame man laid paralyzed for eight years, named Aeneas. Peter heals him, and consequently, “all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35).
Soon after this, Peter travels to nearby Joppa. There a well-beloved saint named Tabitha had recently passed away. Peter raises her from the dead. Because of this marvelous deed, “it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord” (Acts 9:42). Later Paul and Barnabas are on the island of Paphos and they preach to the Roman proconsul, a man named Sergius-Paulus. But an evil sorcerer named Elymas tried to talk the proconsul out of obeying the gospel. Paul chides him for being contrary to righteousness and an enemy to the truth, and then strikes him blind. The response of Sergius-Paulus was, “the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord” (Acts 13:12). Notice that the miracle did not cause wonder at the divine sign, but for the word of God. Later Paul and Barnabas travel to Iconium. Luke records how, “they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3).
A sum of the work of Paul as well as the other apostles can be read in the end of the book of Romans, at it particularly ties the confirming work of the miracles with the effectiveness of preaching: “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:18-19). The great salvation of the New Testament message “was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:1-4). So when we read in the Bible of the direct operation of the Spirit, it is always revealing and confirming the truth.