In Matthew 12, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand in the synagogue. Among those present were Jesus’ perpetual enemies, the Pharisees. Upon seeing the miracle, they “went out and counseled together against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (verse 14).
In John 11, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. There were many witnesses on hand. Some went and told the Jewish leaders, who convened a council and said, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him…” (verses 47-48). They decided that the solution was to have Jesus killed.
In Acts 3, the apostle Peter healed a crippled beggar. The man’s condition had existed from birth and was known to the whole community. As the Jewish council questioned Peter and John about the event (chapter 4), the members conceded, “…the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place…is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” (verse 16). Before releasing Peter and John, the council threatened them and ordered them to stop preaching Christ.
Three undeniable miracles. Three ugly reactions. Now consider three lessons.
1. Bible miracles were self-evident. When it came to miraculous signs, Christ and His apostles were never accused of being frauds. Their miracles were open to public scrutiny, often performed in front of numerous witnesses. The nature of these works was obviously beyond human ability: calming storms, raising the dead, healing deformities and mutilations, etc. It was impossible to dismiss them as magic tricks or illusions. Even Jesus’ opponents could not deny that the miracles were genuine.
Contrast this with today’s professed miracle-workers. Some have tried to duplicate Jesus’ miracles over nature and ended up embarrassing themselves (or worse—one preacher in Africa drowned as he tried to walk on water). Some have been exposed as con artists. All of them ignore Paul’s statement that after God’s revelation was completed, miraculous gifts would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
2. Miracles didn’t always produce faith. Some who witnessed them were ecstatic at first, but soon turned away when they realized the true nature of discipleship (see John 6). Even the apostles, who saw so many of Jesus’ works of power, struggled with weak faith. Others, upon seeing a miracle, became immediately hostile. Relatively few who witnessed these signs followed through with committed faith.
The reason was simple: Faith is produced by the word of God, not miracles (Romans 10:17). Miracles helped confirm Divine testimony, but they were not a substitute for it (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4). Jesus taught that those who will not be persuaded by God’s word would not be persuaded by miracles, either (Luke 16:31).
3. Some people won’t be convinced by any amount of evidence. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could witness one of Jesus’ miracles and not believe in Him. But it happened. A lot. In fact, seeing or hearing of a miracle sometimes turned people against Jesus and His disciples, as in the three cases above. That tells us that some people will not believe, no matter what the evidence. They have already made up their minds and hardened their hearts. Of such people Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).
What about you? If you have heard the Bible’s testimony concerning Jesus, including the compelling evidence of His miracles, then you are without excuse for not obeying Him in faith. Why not do it today?