“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man 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.”
Why did God allow man to perform miracles back in biblical times? Have you ever wondered that?
Nicodemus tells us why. Why would a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, one of the religious elite of the day, pay any attention to a carpenter from backwater Nazareth who was claiming to be the Messiah? It was because of the miracles done by this Man. That’s why people paid attention to Jesus, his apostles and the other early Christians.
Picture this. You came into Jerusalem for the Passover and just happened to witness the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. You decide to come back to Jerusalem fifty days later to observe the holy day of Pentecost, and suddenly you see this Galilean roughneck fisherman talking to thousands of people about how “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36) and how God had raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:32).
“Wait a second,” you think. “That’s the same guy I saw dying on a cross fifty days ago! This guy Peter can’t be telling the truth!” An obvious and understandable conclusion, one that obviously would keep you from buying what this guy is selling and becoming a follower of a dead guy who is supposedly resurrected. Why would anyone believe this man or anyone else who’s preaching the same message?
Now, what if you were standing there listening to Peter and those other uneducated hicks from Galilee…when you suddenly realized that all the other Jews surrounding you from places all of the world could understand them because they were effortlessly speaking to them in their own languages (Acts 2:4-12)? True, it could be possible, however unlikely, for uneducated fisherfolk from Galilee to…maybe…learn a few different languages over time. But twenty? Thirty? And to be completely fluent in them, switching back and forth from one to the other effortlessly depending on the person to whom they were speaking and the place from where he had come?
Let’s say in the days following you keep running into these guys who keep preaching about a crucified carpenter from Nazareth whom God resurrected to prove He is God’s Son…and you notice more unexplainable oddities. You see how that fisherman Peter was talking to that lame guy on Solomon’s Portico whom you’ve seen begging for food at that same spot for years, and suddenly reaches down and pulls him to his feet…and now the lame guy can walk, and not only walk but leap around, praising God! (Acts 3:1ff) You notice how some folks are carrying obviously sick people out into the streets, as well as those afflicted with unclean spirits…and this fisherman would simply walk past them at noon with his shadow passing over them and suddenly they would be completely better! (Acts 5:12-16)
Now, if you were a complete cynic whose heart was completely hardened and your mind was already made up that these guys were frauds, you would write these supposed “miracles” off as con jobs. You might even attribute their ability to perform these wonders as evidence that they were followers of Satan (Matthew 12:22-30)! If you were so far gone that you were attributing the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit to Satan, there would be no hope for you whatsoever that you would believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and so you would never be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32).
Yet, what if you had an open and honest heart (Luke 8:15)? Then these signs and wonders performed by Jesus and His followers would make a big impression on you as to the validity of their message. That’s a big reason why God allowed Jesus and His followers to perform miracles and called them “signs” (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:1-4).
It was, as Nicodemus said, to convince observers that God was with them.