Summary: 1st in series "Miracles in Matthew. Looks at the purpose of miracles in Jesus ministry and today.
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus using a ministry of Miracles as advertisement for the message of salvation. The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth that he had come to them with a "demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Cor. 2:4)."
Miracles are a wonderful thing but Miracles are secondary to the message. The message about the greatest miracle of all, that the ultimate healing is the eternal life that Jesus offers us through faith in Him. The message that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins and that if we trust in what He did to save us that we can be set free from both sin’s penalty and sin’s bondage.
1. Miracles Draw a Crowd
At their best miracles draw a crowd to hear the message or serve to demonstrate the authority of the message.
In his book Sit, Walk, Stand, Watchman Nee describes a preaching mission to an island off the South China coast. There were seven in the ministering group, including a sixteen-year-old new convert whom he calls Brother Wu. The island was fairly large, containing about 6,000 homes. Preaching seemed quite fruitless on the island, and Nee discovered it was because of the dedication of the people there to an idol they called Ta-wang. They were convinced of his power because on the day of his festival and parade each year the weather was always near perfect.
"When is the procession this year?" young Wu asked a group that had gathered to hear them preach.
"It is fixed for January 11th at 8 in the morning," was the reply.
"Then," said the new convert, "I promise you that it will certainly rain on the 11th."
At that there was an outburst of cries from the crowd: "That is enough! We don’t want to hear any more preaching. If there is rain on the 11th, then your God is God!"
Upon being informed about this confrontation Watchman Nee called the group to prayer. On the morning of the 11th, there was not a cloud in the sky, but during grace for breakfast, sprinkles began to fall and these were followed by heavy rain.
Worshipers of the idol Ta-wang carried it outdoors, hoping this would stop the rain, but the rain increased and the carriers of the idol stumbled and fell, dropping the idol and fracturing its jaw and left arm.
A number of young people turned to Christ as a result of the rain coming in answer to prayer, but the elders of the village made divination and said that the wrong day had been chosen. The proper day of the procession, they said, should have been the 14th.
When Nee and his friends heard this, they again went to prayer, asking for rain on the 14th and for clear days for preaching until then. That afternoon the sky cleared and on the good days that followed there were thirty converts. Of the crucial test day, Nee says: "The 14th broke, another perfect day, and we had good meetings. As the evening approached we met again at the appointed hour. We quietly brought the matter to the Lord’s remembrance. Not a minute late, His answer came with torrential rain and floods as before. The power of the idol over the islanders was broken; the enemy was defeated. Believing prayer had brought a great victory. Many conversions followed." (Sermonillustrations.com)
Miracles reinforce the message of Good news.
Sometimes Christians think that the supernatural will scare off those who are seeking the truth. I think the opposite is true. It is a supernatural truth that the world is seeking. They are looking not for a rational argument-- though a reasonable explanation of the Good News is necessary for salvation, but they want to see that truth backed up by a God who is there. A God whose presence they can sense, and better yet, whose actions they can see.
2 Miracles Demonstrate God’s Compassion
God is a God of love, a God of Compassion. Over and over again in the Gospels, the Bible tells us that Jesus reached out miraculously to people because of His compassion. He healed the blind, cleansed the leper, fed the ten thousand because they were hungry and he had compassion.
In 1953 in Grimes Iowa, Violet Cross was getting sicker by the day. Finally her eldest son Frank insisted she go to the doctor. Eventually they ended up at the large teaching hospital in Iowa City. The diagnosis was devastating. Though Violet had never smoked she was dying of Lung cancer. One lung was already gone the other was rapidly being devoured by the malignancy. The doctors sent her home offering no real hope, six months of pain would ultimately lead to her death.
That Sunday violet went down to kneel at the altar at the tiny church pastored by her son-in-law, Clarence Lautt. There in Grimes Gospel Center she begged God for one thing. Her two youngest daughters, Kay and Linda were still in high school. "Please God," she prayed, "Let me see my girls finish high school."