Defining Miracles – Part 3 – The Purpose of Miracles
The Purpose of Miracles
Now that we’ve gained some insights on miracles from a biblical perspective [See Parts 1 and 2], let us proceed to briefly examine what Scripture says about the purpose of miracles. I’ve already touched on some of this in passing, but the following presents a broader picture.
Miracles Accredit God’s Messengers
As noted previously, God’s miracles in biblical times often confirmed certain messengers as being God’s representatives. This includes the prophets, the apostles, and especially Jesus Christ Himself. For example, in Acts 2:22, we read Peter’s words to the Jews: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know” (emphasis added). Nicodemus said to Jesus: “We know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him” (John 3:2, emphasis added).
Miracles Confirm God’s Message
Besides confirming God’s messengers, Scripture tells us that miracles often confirm God’s message. In Hebrews 2:3-4, we read: “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (emphasis added).
In Acts 14:3, we likewise read that Paul and Barnabas’s message of grace was confirmed by miracles: “So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there [in Iconium], speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders” (emphasis added, insert added).
Miracles Bring Glory to God and Jesus
Another purpose of miracles, according to Scripture, is to bring glory to God and Jesus. After Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine, for example, we read: “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him” (John 2:11). After Jesus healed a paralytic, the crowds “were afraid, and they glorified God” (Matthew 9:8). The people glorified God when they saw Jesus heal the paralytic lowered through the roof (Luke 5:24-26), when Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son from the dead (Luke 7:16), when He healed a woman bent over double by a spirit (Luke 13:13,17), and when He healed the blind man (Luke 18:42-43).
In the Old Testament, Moses’s miracles in the Exodus account manifest God’s great glory. Consider God’s own words to Moses:
Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen. (Exodus 14:16-18, emphasis added)
Miracles Demonstrate the Presence of God’s Kingdom
Yet another purpose of miracles is to show that God’s kingdom has come and is expanding to bring beneficial results into peoples’ lives. Jesus said, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). Likewise, Jesus gave His disciples “power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:1-2).
Miracles Promote Faith
An essential practical purpose of miracles is to engender faith among God’s people. We read in Exodus 14:31, “When the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” John 20:30-31 tells us, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Miracles Demonstrate God’s Sovereignty
Yet another purpose of miracles, according to Scripture, is to demonstrate the sovereignty of God. We read God’s own words in Exodus 7:5: “The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” Then, during the wilderness sojourn, God’s miraculous provisions continued to show God’s sovereignty: “During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet…. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 29:5-6). God’s miracles demonstrate His control over the affairs of humans.
Miracles Help People in Need
A final and essential purpose of miracles is to help people in need. The two blind men near Jericho cried out, “Have mercy on us,” and Jesus “in pity” healed them (Matthew 20:30,34). When Jesus beheld a great crowd of people, “he had compassion on them, and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). Throughout the New Testament, we witness the miracles of Jesus helping people in need.
Certainly, there is much more to miracles than what is contained in this brief article. But the biblical facts contained herein provide a foundation for understanding and further exploring the nature and purpose of both Grade A and Grade B miracles.
The reader is urged to consult the other articles in this series to gain a more complete perspective.