Intro: When God chooses a person, he does not leave him without credentials. God chose Moses to lead Israel; He chose Aaron and his sons to minister at the tabernacle. In Numbers 16 Korah and his cohorts dismiss God’s choice and rebel against Moses and Aaron. God threatens to destroy the whole nation except for Moses and Aaron (v. 21). But in response to Moses’ pleading the Lord proposes a demonstration. After Moses warns the people to move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, he states… Num 16:28-30 – By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. 29 If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the Lord.” We remember what happened. The earth opened up and swallowed Korah, his men, their families and all their possessions. God gave testimony to His choice of Moses.
- Later, as accounted in Numbers 17, God instructed each family (tribe) to bring a rod with their family leader’s name on it, to the tabernacle. The rod from the tribe of Levi carried the name of Aaron. Moses placed the rods in the tabernacle. The next day the rod with Aaron’s name on it had changed. This dead stick had budded, blossomed with flowers, and even had full grown almonds on it. It was alive, the other sticks remained dead. God gave testimony to His choice of Aaron. That rod was placed in the ark of the covenant as a memorial to the testimony of God’s choice.(Heb. 9:4)
I. “Attested by God” Acts 2:22 – Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Peter introduces Jesus to his audience. The Gospel message he was getting ready to deliver could not be revealed without speaking about Jesus. But notice that Peter begins by telling the crowd that Jesus of Nazareth was a man “attested by God to you”. What does that mean?
A. The word “attested” here is the Greek word apodeiknumi (ap-od-ike’-noo-mee); which means to show off, exhibit; figuratively it means to demonstrate or accredit (Strong’s). The ASV and others use the phrase “approved of God“. What Peter is telling everyone is that the man known as Jesus of Nazareth was the real thing. He was God’s choice. God had approved of Jesus and had even demonstrated His approval of Jesus to Peter’s listeners (as you yourselves also know). How did God demonstrate His approval of (attest to) Jesus?
1. “by miracles, wonders and signs” – The story of Jesus life is a story of miracles. It is impossible to ignore or discount the place of His miracles without distorting the entire Biblical narrative. Matthew gives us this early synopsis: Matt 4:23-25 – 23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him — from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
a. What is a miracle? Vines says that miracles in the Bible are “of works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means” (Vines). A miracle is not contrary to natural law, but supersedes natural law and cannot be explained through activity of natural law. The understanding that God performed the act does not in itself deem it a miracle. God can work without miracles (through the natural and spiritual laws he has created) He can and does intervene providentially in human events. The birth of a baby is not a miracle. It is wondrous, but explicable. The birth of a baby without the activity of a father (a virgin birth) is a miracle. Many times the events that are called miracles do not fit the proper definition. Although they are amazing and unexplainable to some, they are not beyond the capability of natural law. (healings, circumstantial events, etc)
b. The gospels account 35 different times when Jesus is said to have performed supernatural feats that were understood by the witnesses as miraculous. More than half of these describe healings. But scriptures also teach that Jesus cast out demons, and 3 times we are told that he raised people from the dead. He fed multitudes with the contents of a one person’s lunch, walked on the water, changed water to wine, and filled nets with so many fish the disciples could not get them over the sides of the boat. In addition He read the hearts and minds of strangers, and on the third day He emerged from His own tomb. The story of Jesus is a story of miracles. Mark accounts the reaction of those who witnessed His works. Mark 5:42 – And they were overcome with great amazement. Mark 6:51 – And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. John 7:31 – And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” Mark 7:37 – And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
2. It is significant to notice that the early critics of Jesus did not attempt to deny that Jesus worked miracles. They ascribed them to the power of Satan (Mt. 12:24) and attempted to lessen their influence even to the point of attempting to murder Lazarus (Jn. 12:10-11) But the eyewitness testimony, and what they saw with their own eyes was too compelling to ignore or deny. John 11:47 – Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.” In our time, the modernist and atheist have denied the miracles of Jesus and attempted to “explain away” the Biblical accounts. Science is the god of the day, and miracles do not fit.
3. Jesus’ miracles
B. What was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles? Although the miracles of Jesus (particularly the healings) alleviated suffering and provided what was good for those involved, that was not the chief purpose of His works. The words Peter uses in Acts 2 help us here. These 3 words are found throughout the scriptures as descriptions of the supernatural activity of God.
1. miracles (powers) is from dunamis, which means power, strength, or ability. This word appeals to the source of the activity – the authority by which one act. The power of God was consistently on display in the miracles of Jesus:
- Power over material needs: In Matthew 14 as He fed the 5,000 He is the covenant provider.
- Power over nature: In Matthew 14:22-33 as he walks on the water. God of creation. He is in control.
- Power over Disease: Matthew 8:5-13 –He healed with just His words.
- Power over Demons: Mark 5:1-19 – a foretaste of Jesus victory over Satan.
- Power over Death: John 11:1-11 – the final solution to the judgment against sin.
2. wonders (teras) – this word points to the affect of the act on the spectator. It creates awe or amazement, and as such is a visible event. Many of Jesus’ miracles were designed to draw attention.
3. signs (semeion)- this views a miracle as supernatural evidence of a divine commission and in support of God’s revelation. ISBE says a miracle is an act of God “transcending the ordinary powers of Nature, wrought in connection with the ends of revelation,” (ISBE)
4. These terms point us to the purpose of Jesus’ miracles (and all miracles of the Bible) in their connection to the revelation of God. Miracles were to signify the presence and power of God, and cause those who saw to give heed to the accompanying message, as the words of God. Miracles were designed to confirm the revelation of God. Heb. 2:3-4 – 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.
- The last words of Mark gospel concerning the apostles – Mark 16:20 – And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.
- John’s description of Jesus’ miracles: John 20:30-31 – And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
II. “For God was with Him” – In Acts 10 the apostle Peter comes to a marvelous realization – The gospel message was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews! In fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction, Peter was given the opportunity to use the keys of the kingdom, and open its door to the house of Cornelius. Notice how he introduces Jesus to the Gentiles. Acts 10:34-43 – 34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said:”In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ — He is Lord of all — 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
A. Peter refuses to describe Jesus apart from the miracles he performed through the provision of God. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (v. 38) The miracles Jesus wrought were prima facie evidence that God was with Him… that He was who He said He was.
B. In addition to the three biblical terms used to describe miracles mentioned earlier, the apostle John consistently refers to Jesus miracles with the term “works” – as specifically the works of God. John presents these miraculous deeds as if they were only the natural and appropriate works of one who was God Himself.
C. Jesus consistently utilized His miracles as evidence of His as divine identity. God was with Him, and He was with God, and His works proved it.
- John 10:24-25 – Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.
- John 10:37-38 – If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”
- John 14:10-11 – Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
D. What do the miracles of Jesus demand of us? When we read the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ miracles, what are the implications? What does this demand of us? In our lessons this month we will point our minds and hearts toward the particular events, and marvel at what He did. But in all of these “works” the identity of Jesus is on trial in our hearts. Jesus calls us to belief, or disbelief. He either did them or He did not. He is either God or He is not. The miracles of Jesus erase all excuses for unbelief.
- John 15 – As Jesus prepares his disciples for the reality of His rejection and death, He is upfront about what lies ahead for them. If they hate Me, they will hate you. (v. 18). And then He provides the premise for the judgment against all those who refuse to believe in Him. John 15:22-25 – If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
Conclusion: God has given testimony to His choice in the miracles Jesus was given to do. Jesus is the only way. Peter told the crowd at Pentecost, Jesus is “a Man attested to by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs”…
- Do YOU believe what these marvelous deeds attest (demonstrate)? Jesus went as far as to say to those who openly rejected Him in the face of the miraculous signs He performed, that they had blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, and in that rejection had turned away from any hope of forgiveness. These things are written that you “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)