By Luther Blackmon
In John 10:41 it is recorded that the people said, “John did no miracle,” and there is nothing in the scripture that indicated that this is not true. John the Baptist performed no miracles. And there was a reason as we shall show in the conclusion of this study. But here is food for thought, particularly for those who place so much emphasis on miracles today.
In the first place, John was one of the greatest preachers who ever lived. Jesus said of him, “among them that are born of woman there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist” (Mt. 11:11). Secondly, “he was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb” (Lk. 1:15). Thirdly, he was sent on his mission by the Lord: “There was a man sent from God whose name was John” (Jn. 1:6). He had all the qualifications that modern “miracle workers” claim. But he “did no miracle”. Why?
Old Testament Miracles
The Old Testament records about fifty miracles besides the Genesis account of creation. God did most of these, either for the punishment of wicked men or nations, or in behalf of His people in times of stress or danger. Healing the sick was not among them. In fact, I can think of no instance of healing an individual except the arm or Jereboam (1 Kg. 13) and this was a case of undoing one miracle with another. The healing in connection with the brazen serpent was also of this nature. Numbers of people were killed by God’s power, others were stricken in various ways, and some raised from the dead; but healings were scarce.
The Miracles of Jesus
The Bible says that the recorded miracles of Jesus were “written that we might believe that he was the Christ. . . and that believing we might have life through him” (Jn. 20:30, 31). Here we might just ask this question: “If miracles were to continue through the ages, why was it necessary that the miracles of Jesus be written?” If the Lord were going to give His people power to continue performing miracles, then every generation would have the same miraculous testimony that people had in the time of Christ’s ministry. Hence, there would have been no need to have the miracles of Jesus recorded.
Disciples Given Power of Miracles
When Jesus sent the apostles out under the limited commission (only to the Jews), He said, “as you go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. . . ” (Mt. 10:7, 8). You have no doubt heard many people say they were miraculously “healed”. How many have you seen or heard who were raised from the dead?
In the same verse in which the Lord said to “heal the sick”, He also said to “raise the dead”. But ask a “miracle worker” to let you see him raise one from the dead and he will indignantly inform you that you are asking him to “tempt the Lord”. But he does not mind our seeking him to work a healing “miracle”. In fact, he invites us to come down on certain nights with the promise that this will be “healing night”. Why does it “tempt the Lord” to work a “miracle” on a dead man but it does not “tempt the Lord” to work a “miracle” on a sick man? Jesus raised many from the dead; Peter raised Dorcas (Acts 9); Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20). What is wrong with raising the dead? When we question their claims that God heals miraculously today by human agency, they accuse us of trying to “limit God’s power”. It is they who limit God’s power. I believe that God can heal a man with an artificial limb as easily as He can heal a backache. But how many people do you know who went to a “healing service” with an artificial limb and were made whole? These “miracles workers” will not take such a person before their audience and try to heal him. They screen these out before their “healing begins”.
Why John Did No Miracle
John the Baptist did no miracle because his mission was of such nature that it did not require miraculous confirmation. Jesus performed miracles that He might confirm His deity: ” . . . these are written that ye might believe and that believing ye might have life through his name” (Jn. 20:30, 31). The apostles also were given power to work miracles, both before and after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The reason they could work miracles after He had risen and ascended to heaven is clearly set forth in . . .
“And he said unto them, go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the work with signs following. Amen.”
This was a new message. It was different from the law of Moses. So the preachers of this message needed miracles to prove to the people that this new message was of God. The miracles (signs) that they were able to work confirmed the word that they preached. When the people saw these real miracles in connection with the preaching, they knew that these men were sent from God.
But what about those miracles the apostles did before Jesus’ death and during His personal ministry (Mt. 10:5-8)? It should be noted that this was during the same period when John was preaching and baptizing. Why, then, could Jesus’ disciples heal the sick, raise the dead, etc., while John could not?
John was sent to the Jews only-a people already in covenant relationship with God. Neither John’s preaching nor his baptism changed this relationship. His work did not alter the law of Moses. John preached “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” but John did not preach the “gospel of the kingdom”. John introduced Christ but Christ and His disciples preached the gospel of the kingdom. John’s work was to renew the Jews to their zeal and loyalty to Jehovah and to prepare them to receive Christ. His work is clearly set forth in Lk. 1:16, 17: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” John’s preaching was limited to Israel and designed only to turn them from their sins in repentance and get them ready to receive the Christ who was to come. This did not require miraculous demonstrations. It was not to be a new system of religion. Very soon these people John taught and baptized would be given opportunity to obey the gospel and, along with the Gentiles, be heirs of the blessings of that “kingdom which would never end”. Jesus was to replace Moses’ law. And it would require more than a Galilean peasant and a group of fishermen and tax collectors to convince the Jews that this message came from the same God that gave the law from Sinai, and to turn the Gentiles from their idols. So, the word they preached was attended by and confirmed by miracles. But the word has been confirmed and God is no more going to perform them again than He is going to send Christ to die again. This is why miracles are not performed by human agency.
“. . . them that believe”
Mk. 16:17 is much misunderstood and misapplied. “These sings shall follow them that believe.” This does not teach that every believer would be able to work miracles. It simply says that those who performed miracles (signs) would have to be believers. Back in verse 14 He had upbraided the eleven (Judas was dead) because some of them had not believed those who had brought them word when Jesus rose from the dead. 1 Cor. 12:20, 29 shows that not all who had spiritual gifts could work miracles. But even among the apostles, those who worked miracles had to believe in Christ.
Truth Magazine XXI:37, pp. 589-590
September 22, 1977