What were the messianic miracles? What was their significance to Israel? I’m pastor Doug Sewell. Welcome to the Beyond Six Verses podcast.
Last episode, I spoke to two of the four Messianic Miracles: healing a person born blind from birth, and raising a person from the dead after three days.
I first heard the term messianic miracles in Bible school. Dr Jonathan Weldon talked briefly about them in a class session. I’d never heard that term before, so I did a little bit of research.
According to an article by Victoria Radin on Ha Derek Ministries website, the rabbis in the Second Temple period between 516BC and 70AD derived four tests from passages in Isaiah, including Isaiah 35 51 and 53. The one that performs all of these signs would be identified as the Messiah.
One messianic miracle was healing a person born blind from birth, or as other readings say, healing birth defects. Exodus 34:7 speaks of sins punishing the descendents of the one sinning, hence the disciples’ question in John 9:2 where his disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he is born blind?
I’m curious how a person born blind could have sinned before birth? At any rate, Jesus addressed this matter and healed the man, as I talked about in episode three.
Some more thoughts on this miracle in John 9:21-23, the man’s parents didn’t want to talk about what happened to their son, they would be put out of the synagogue, even after a miracle like this.
In John 9:35-37 Jesus explicitly told the man he healed of blindness that he was the Son of Man, one of the titles for the Messiah.
The most spectacular of the Messianic Miracles was raising Lazarus from dead after more than three days. Jewish belief was that a man’s spirit remained with his body for three days, so he could be raised during that timeframe. They believe that after three days, the spirit left and corruption set in.
In John 11:39 Jesus said, take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man said to him, Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days. Or as the King James put it: Lord, by this time he stinketh.
As I talked in episode three, raising Lazarus was such a momentous event that religious leaders consider killing both Jesus and Lazarus, as Lazarus was proof that Jesus was the Messiah.
The very first Messianic Miracle happened relatively early in Jesus’ ministry, in Mark 1 and Matthew 8. Reading from Mark: now, a leper came to him, imploring him, kneeling down to him and saying to him, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Then Jesus moved with compassion, stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, I am willing be cleansed. As soon as he had spoken immediately, the leprosy left him and he was cleansed and he strictly warned him and sent him away at once and said to him. Go see that you say nothing to anyone but go your way. Show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded as a testimony to them.
Leprosy and Jesus’ day isn’t the same as Hansen’s disease that we call leprosy today. It was more like psoriasis. Having this skin affliction meant you couldn’t live in a village. If you went into the village for the market, you would have to declare you are unclean, unclean, unclean. People wouldn’t come close to you. They wouldn’t marry you. You’d have a tough time getting and holding a job. To this point, no Israelite is recorded as ever having been healed of leprosy.
Both this time and in Luke 17, Jesus told the men with leprosy to show themselves to the priests. There are at least two reasons why.
First, the priest would examine him, make sacrifices on his behalf, and the man would be declared clean based on Leviticus 14.
This would also be a heads up to the priest that the Messiah is in Israel. This is one of the reasons why people came out to see him. They were expecting the Messiah in this timeframe based on Daniel line – I’ll talk about that in a future episode.
The fourth Messianic Miracle we’ll talk about is in Matthew 17 and Mark 9, right after the transfiguration, casting out deaf and mute spirits.
According to Radin, Jewish exorcism in Jesus’ day had three steps: Ask the demon its name, wait for the demon to reply as in the individual’s voice, and cast the demon out by his name. With people that are deaf or mute, the demon couldn’t identify itself through the one who it was tormenting. Only the Messiah could cast out a deaf or mute spirit, which proved he was the Messiah.
A final thought. Jesus commissioned the disciples to perform several of these miracles in Matthew 10:7-8. Jesus may also have been speaking of these miracles in Matthew 11 when John’s disciples came to ask if Jesus was the one to come or if they should be looking for another.
Reading for Matthew 11: Jesus replied, go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.
This speech goes back to his first sermon from Luke 4:18 and 19, which came from Isaiah 61.
Come back next week for the next episode of Beyond Six Verses. I’m pastor Doug Sewell, thank you for listening.
(Transcript provided by descript.com)