The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone, and it is “joined together” and growing. (Ephesians 2:19–21)
Before the church began and while Jesus was still on earth, crowds were attracted to Jesus by the miracles that He performed. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, 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 3:1–2) Miracles are definitely attention-getters.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit as the disciples declared the Word of God. People paid attention because they saw miracles happening and gathered in amazed curiosity. This was not popular among the religious leaders. They raged and plotted, but the disciples prayed. “Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:23–30)
Those miracles were also displayed through individuals. Philip is one example. He went to the city of Samaria and proclaimed Christ. The crowds with one accord paid attention to what he said, “when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.” (Acts 8:4–8)
All that being said, God used miracles to show His power, draw people to Jesus, and verify that He is with His people. These miracles were often outstanding and definitely “built” the church, caused His people to be united, and added to their numbers.
But miracles have a downside too, even before the church began. In Jesus’ ministry, the crowds gathered to hear Him, but when they kept coming after He miraculously fed them bread and fish, He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:26)
For these people, the sign not point them to the power of Christ as God who came to save them from sin. Instead, they thought of Him as a miracle worker who could fill their bellies. At times, I’ve wanted miracles for similar reasons. I’ve prayed for healing, for other things, not so Jesus Christ would be glorified, but that I would be made more comfortable.
Today’s devotional raises the question: why don’t we have supernatural events today? Miracles would pull people to listen and to want to know more about the God who does miracles, or so we might argue. But the Lord knows human hearts. If anyone would be drawn to Jesus Christ through a miracle, I am certain that He would perform it, but I suspect there are more “consumers” in the church than there are worshipers. We want God to make us comfortable, and if we are not seeking comfort, we might want a miracle for our own glory, rather than building up the family of god and drawing people to hear His Word.
If I were God, I would withhold any miracles rather than let my children be selfish about them.