MIRACLES BY THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS
Jesus shared his power to do miracles with his apostles and other disciples during and after his public ministry. After selecting his twelve apostles, Jesus sent them to preach to Jews alone. Along with that, he gave them power to perform miracles: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons” (Mt 10:8). “When the apostles returned, they explained to him what they had done” (Lk 9:10). Later, Jesus appointed 72 disciples and “sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit” (Lk 10:1). They returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name” (Lk 10:17).
During his last discourse to the apostles, Jesus told them that even after his physical departure, they will continue to do greater miracles than they did before or even what Jesus did. Luke, in the Acts, gives accounts of miracles Peter, Paul, Stephen, Barnabas, Silas and others performed. “A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured” (Acts 5:16). There were miracles different from what Jesus performed during his public ministry. “Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.” (Acts 5:15-16). Acts 16:16-18 describes how Paul expelled a demon from a slave girl who was also a fortune teller. “So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12). This led the faithful to use relics of saints as instruments of God’s miracles for the people.
While St. Paul was in Melita (Acts 28:3-5) a viper fastened on his hand. He escaped from snake bite.
Papias records the oral tradition that Joseph Barsabbas, one of the seventy disciples of Jesus (Lk 10:1) drank a cup of poison without harm. Joseph and Mathias were the two candidates to replace Judas Iscariot, out of which Mathias was selected. Both had accompanied Jesus during his public ministry (Acts 1:21).
Another tradition is that the Romans took John the Apostle to Rome for trial during the time of emperor Nero (56-68). The persecutors forced him to drink a cup of deadly poison but he remained alive.
The Acts of the Apostles gives instances of healing of the sick by the disciples of Jesus:
1. Peter healed a lame man in Jerusalem (3:1-11).
2. Apostles healed many in Jerusalem (5:15-16).
3. Peter healed Eneas who was paralyzed for eight years (9:33-34).
4. Peter raised Tabitha to life in Joppa (9:36-41).
5. Paul healed a crippled man in Lystra (14:8-10).
6. Paul healed a multitude in Corinth (19:11-12).
7. Paul restored the life of Eutychus who fell from the third-story window (20:9-12).
8. Paul healed the father of Publius and others in Malta (28:7-9).
When we take the miracles and wonderful achievements of the church throughout the centuries, we notice the marvelous growth and service of Christ’s disciples in the world. The force behind all this is none other than Jesus, who is the head of the church. Peter (Acts 2:33) and Paul (2 Cor 10:17) acknowledged that the miracles they performed were not by them, but by the power of God working through them.
During the budding stage and severe persecution, the church faced, the miracles of the apostles helped the sustainability and growth of the church. Though we might not do the same, God will provide incredible output for our evangelical efforts as we see throughout the history of the church.