Pentecostal preachers claim to be able to work miracles. However, when one asks to see such, it is not uncommon for excuses to be offered. Here are two common ones:
1. It is wrong to seek a sign.
“’Teacher we want to see a sign from You.’ But he answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seek after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’” (Matthew 12:38-40). Some have used this passage to teach that it is always wrong to ask for a sign and Pentecostal preachers have used this verse to avoid ever giving a sign to anyone who asks.
But, understand that the cases are not congruent. Here’s why: First, Jesus had already worked a sign in their presence (Matthew 12:22-24 cf. Matthew 12:38-40). The same point could be made in other context as well (Matthew 16:1-4 cf. Matthew 15:33-38; John 6:30 cf. John 6:9-13, 24-26). Second, watch the fact that Jesus did not say, “there will be no sign given” and leave it at that. He said, “no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jesus, upon that occasion was not going to give them another sign. But, He said in effect, “here is the evidence that I’ll give you – the sign of Jonah.” His resurrection would declare Him to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4).
This passage does not teach that it is wrong to ask for evidence. In truth, the Bible demands that we examine things based upon adequate evidence (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1; Acts 17:11).
2. I can’t because of your unbelief.
“Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). Notice that it does not say that, “He did no mighty works there,” but, “He did not many…” Mark’s record supplies us with even more insight saying, “Now he could do no mighty works there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief…” (Mark 6:5-6).
J.W. McGarvey commented on this situation saying, “The statement that ‘he could do there no mighty works’ etc., does not mean that it was physically impossible; for the same power which healed a few could have healed more; but he could not do more because it was improper. When he had wrought a number of miracles without shaking the unbelief of the people, others… would have been worse than useless; to work them therefore, would have been an improper expenditure of time and power.” (Commentary on Matthew and Mark, pages 299-300).
Yes, unbelief may be an excuse for some so-called “miracle healers” today not being able to give any signs. But, such is not a Biblical excuse. Jesus did some miracles there. Moreover, on other occasions He likewise did His miracles in the presence of unbelievers (Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 23:50-51; cf. also Acts 2, Acts 13:7-12, etc.).
Matthew 13:58 is used by some today to say, “I can’t do it in your presence because you don’t believe.” Don’t let people use this passage on you this way!