The first ten verses of Acts 3 give an account of a miracle performed by Peter as he and John went into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer (3:00 p.m. as we count time). As they entered the temple at “Gate Beautiful” (a gate so described because of its ornate beauty and costly worth), a lame man who was more than 40 years old and had been lame since birth was lying there. Seeing Peter and John entering the temple he asked money of them and Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk”. And so he did.
Peter had likely worked miracles already since we are told in Acts 2:43 that “many signs and wonders were done by the apostles”, but this is the first detailed miracle worked by the apostles after Pentecost. It was an astonishing miracle and, like the events of Pentecost, was an impressive work, for the crippled beggar was known to the people who entered the temple and they were astonished and awed at the perfect health given to him. The power for the apostles to work miracles came when the Spirit came on Pentecost, and the purpose of the miracles were to confirm the word. At the conclusion of Mark’s gospel, Jesus reprimanded the twelve apostles because of their unbelief. He then said, “These signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing it shall in no wise hurt them … and they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen” (Mark 16:17-18, 20).
The apostles were sent to preach an unbelievable message: A man who had been crucified and dead for three days and who claimed to be the Son of God, had been raised from the dead and for forty days He talked and ate with them, then ascended into heaven while they watched! That One claimed to have “all power in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18), and in order to have their sins remitted they must believe His message, repent of their sins, and be baptized into Him for the remission of their sins. Such a message would scarcely be believed by anyone unless a miracle in like manner was performed among them to verify the message they proclaimed. This was the purpose of miracles: confirming the message about Jesus Christ. While the miracle Peter worked on the lame man was done before the message about Jesus was proclaimed, it was astonishing enough that it prepared the hearts of sincere and honest hearers to listen to the message Peter would preach.
Sometimes the miracles worked were such that some scoffers would dismiss them scornfully. Sometimes the miracle was so compelling that some who could not deny the miracle itself attributed it to an evil power. This happened when the enemies of Jesus claimed they were done by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24). Some made no attempt to dismiss the miracle nor to attribute the power of it to some other source. But because of their power and their love of it, they would plot to kill Him who worked the miracles to eliminate the threat they felt He posed to them (John 11:47-53).
For those who were sincere and honest, the working of a miracle by either an apostle or disciple caused them to listen to the message that was proclaimed. For that one the miracle had fulfilled its purpose: It had confirmed the message the preacher proclaimed to be true. There was, of course, a secondary purpose: The miracle blessed the one upon whom it was wrought, but that was not the primary purpose for the miracle.
Today there are people who claim to work miracles just as Peter did that day at the Beautiful Gate. They go to great lengths to prove they are able to do that, appealing to the Scriptures and the deeds the apostles did to prove they can. There is no need for them to do that. Let them work a miracle — that will prove they can.
So, if one claims to be a worker of miracles today, let him prove he can by working a miracle. Let him restore sight to a blind man, whom we know for ourselves to have been blind. Let him raise to life a dead man whom we know was dead. That’s what Peter did. The man whom Peter healed was known by all to be lame since his birth. Because many of those present knew the person, and knew the wondrous deed done to him, they were willing to give Peter an audience for the exhilarating and comforting message he preached. Read the last few verses of Acts 3 to see what else they did.