You probably know that while on this planet, Jesus performed many miracles designed to show people Who He really was. But did you know that one time He performed a miracle to hide His identity? Stick around and we’ll talk about it. Here on five minutes of truth.
There are a myriad of reasons why Jesus performed miracles while He walked on this earth more than 2,000 years ago. He did so to prove that He had been sent by the Father. He did so to show His power over the natural and supernatural world. He did so in order for people to know that He was, in fact, the long awaited Messiah Who would save people from their sin.
But the miracles were really a bit more complicated than they may seem on the surface. Jesus did not come to earth specifically to perform miracles. In Mark’s Gospel, after a day where Jesus healed all who were brought to Him, He awoke the next morning with His disciples exclaiming: “Everyone is looking for You.” The implication is clear. The Disciples were urging Jesus to go back to the crowds to do more miracles. That was, in fact, why everyone was looking for Him. Instead, Jesus said: “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for this purpose I have come forth.” Look at the verbiage. The Disciples and the people wanted more miracles. Jesus doesn’t even mention the miracles. He clearly states the purpose He came for was to preach the Gospel.
The miracles? They were not an end…they were a means to an end. The fact is, the miracles didn’t always work to bring people to faith in Him. Luke records an incident where Jesus healed 10 lepers. Luke also records that only one of them came back, thanked Jesus, and wanted to follow Him. In John’s Gospel, after the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus chastises many who followed after Him saying: “You seek me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” Jesus here was clearly pointing out the shortcomings associated with miracles and signs. Simply put, signs alone did not and would not bring people to faith in Him. Sometimes they did. But in the Passion Week many who cried out “Hosanna” on Sunday because He was the great miracle worker, were crying out “crucify Him” on Friday because the miracles had been replaced by chains.
And how could a true miracle worker allow Himself to be arrested and condemned? We see this attitude in the Jewish leadership who demanded that if Jesus was Who He claimed to be, why then didn’t He miraculously come down from the Cross. Because He was not on earth to miraculously avoid the Cross, but to miraculously embrace it.
That’s not to downplay the miracles…we just need to keep them in perspective. That’s the sum total of why He did them in the first place. They were not the purpose of His mission, but they were arrows that pointed to the purpose of His mission. And they were glorious in so many ways. It can be argued that virtually every single miracle was designed, in part, to illustrate Who Jesus was. And then there’s that miracle at the end of Luke’s Gospel.
Let me set this up for you. After Jesus’ crucifixion a man named Cleopas and a friend of his leave Jerusalem and journey towards home. They are extremely downtrodden because of all that they saw transpire over the weekend. The resurrected Jesus shows up and begins walking with them. Here’s the thing: Jesus uses His power to make Himself unrecognizable to them. He performs a miracle to hide His identity. Why would He do that? He will tell us why.
Jesus questions the two men by asking: “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” The men are shocked at Jesus’ question. They respond by asking Jesus if He is the only One in Jerusalem Who does not know what happened. They explain that the person they thought was the long awaited Messiah had been crucified. And since He was dead, they had concluded that they must have been wrong about Who He truly was. Thus the reason for their sadness. Then Jesus shows us the reason why He used His power to hide His identity.
Jesus, still unknown to them, then responds by doing something amazing. Not a miracle, even though that probably would have worked. What better way to show these guys that He was in fact the Messiah by opening their eyes and revealing that He had risen from the dead. But He didn’t do that. Instead, He: “Expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
Instead of a miracle, Jesus gave them the Scriptures. He knew that though miracles alone might not reveal Who He truly was, His Word would always be available to do that. Cleopas and his friend did not believe because Jesus performed a miracle…yet in a way…they did. The miracle Jesus used to hide His identity cleared the way for them to see the truth of Who He is. So in a way, the miracle did work. It worked to do what He wants us to do: Trust His Word. To know that God loves us, because of His Word. To know that we are forgiven, because of His Word. To know that He died for us, because of His Word. To know that we are His children, because of His love. And to know that He will never leave us nor forsake us…because of His Word. How cool is that?
On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
Dr. Purvis started Growth Project with Robert Houghton after spending 20 years on active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy. After many moves and multiple deployments, he settled in Winter Haven, Florida to do God’s will. A glutton for educational punishment Danny has a BA in English from Carson-Newman College, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He has been married to his wife Kimberly (whom he met when they were 6 years old) for nearly 30 years and they have four wonderful children.