According to the Gospels Jesus performed miracles of healing, deliverance from evil
spirits, raised the dead, calmed the storm, walked on water, turned water into wine,
fed 5000 with supernatural food, as well as rising from the dead after He had been
crucified. The New Testament teaches that these miracles were the sign of His divine
nature (i.e. He was the Son of God).
Basically there are three responses to these miracles, two of which show up in Asher
Norman’s book and one of which we believe.
They did not really happen. There were no reports of miracles outside the New Testament.
They were either exaggerations or illusions or can be explained away rationalistically.
There were signs and wonders but they were lying signs and wonders to lead Israel
away from the Torah. They were done by the power of evil spirits / Beelzebub. This
line actually comes into the Gospel and is found in later Jewish literature.
They were genuine miracles which demonstrated Jesus’ divine power and nature.
1. The miracles did not happen.
In Chapter 23 Asher Norman implies that the miracles did not happen. ‘The works
of forty-one historians who lived during the first century and early second century
and wrote about Judea and Rome have survived. … None of them mentioned Jesus … or
any of the so-called miraculous events described in the Gospels.’ (page 182). For
our answer to this assertion please go to the article on this website ‘Did Jesus
exist?’ In this article we point out that there is a lack of contemporary information
from Galilee and Judea from the time of Jesus:
There was no Jerusalem Post in the period when Jesus was active and no 24 hour news
media relaying the latest events to tune in to. In fact classical historians were
reluctant to commit themselves to reporting events as they happened. Robert van Voorst
in his book ‘Jesus outside the New Testament’ writes: ‘Historical interpretation
of events was not the ‘instant analysis’ we have become accustomed to, for better
or worse, in modern times.’ (p 70)
The works of most of the writers of this period have almost completely perished.
Those whose works we do have are generally incomplete. This applies very much to
the 41 writers Asher Norman refers to. For example the main section in Tacitus’
history covering the period AD 29-32 is missing.
Jesus and His followers were not an issue for the Romans until Christianity began
to have an impact on the Roman Empire. There is no reason why any Roman contemporary
with Jesus would write about events in what they regarded as a backwater of the Empire.
Modern sceptical mind-set tends to deny any supernatural events which are recorded
in the Bible (including central events recorded in the Torah – the Creation, the
Flood and the Exodus, as well as the miracles recorded in the New Testament). In
the end this comes down to an argument about the existence and nature of God. The
Biblical view of God is that:
He exists as the Creator of the Universe.
He is a living God who is able to intervene in His Creation through supernatural
acts which we call miracles.
Against this view we have two major views held by people today:
God does not exist and the universe is the result of the Big Bang and evolutionary
forces and therefore no miracles of God are possible.
God exists as the ‘watchmaker’ who wound up the watch (the universe) and set it in
motion but now does not intervene and lets the world carry on without any miracles
to be expected.
In theory a person who says he / she believes the Torah should on the basis of the
Exodus account believe in God who is able and willing to intervene supernaturally
in human events to bring about his purposes. So believing Jews and Christians should
agree on this basic point that miracles are possible.
When it comes to the miracles of Jesus, the issue depends on how we see His nature.
If He is the Messiah and a divine person / Son of God as described in the New Testament
it is to be expected that He would have the power to do miracles. This is the essential
issue which comes out in the Gospels as we shall see in section 3 of this article.
The issue of the deity of the Messiah we have looked at in our chapter ‘Messiah –
a great man or a divine person.’Clearly the Gospels do teach that the miracles of
Jesus point to his deity and that He is the Messiah.
2. The miracles were lying signs and wonders.
Asher Norman’s second response to Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels is to say that ‘The
Jewish Bible warned against Jesus.’ (Reason 12). In this chapter he is implying
that Jesus did do miracles but that they were done in order to lead Israel astray:
‘The Torah specifically warns that God will test the Jewish people by sending a prophet
or a ‘dreamer of dreams’ who will produce a ‘sign or a wonder’ which he will use
to turn the Jewish people to ‘gods you do not know. This prophet or ‘dreamer’ will
be subject to the death penalty. Problematically the Gospels assert that Jesus was
a prophet who performed signs, wonders and miracles. According to the Gospel accounts
Jesus performed miraculous healings, exorcisms of ‘demons’, turned water into wine,
performed feeding miracles, and walked on water. It is a fundamental claim of Christianity
that Jesus was a deity (the son of God) as a member of the trinity. Clearly the
‘son of god and the trinity’ are ‘gods of others that you (the Jewish people) did
not know.’ Therefore Jesus appears to be the subject of this admonition ‘If there
should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of and dream and he will produce
a sign or a wonder, and that sign or wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you,
saying ‘Let us follow gods of others that you did not know and we shall worship them!’
He goes on to show from Deuteronomy 13.2-6 that this is God’s test to see whether
you will follow him and that the response should be to reject this prophet and put
him to death. (P 83-84).
This brings in a different argument from the previous one (and a contradictory one
to it). It means that Jesus did do miracles but they were lying signs and wonders
to seduce the Jewish people to worship other gods and therefore he should be rejected
and put to death.
At no point in the Gospels does Jesus advocate worshipping other gods. When we
look at the Gospels we find that He:
Responded to the question of which is the greatest commandment by quoting the Shema
(Deuteronomy 6.4) and saying ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart’
and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Mark 12.28-34)
Upheld the teaching of Moses, but criticised the practise of the Scribes and Pharisees
and their application of this teaching. (Matthew 15.1-9, Matthew 23)
Did not regard so called ‘fence laws’ or teachings of the ‘Oral Torah’ as divinely
inspired or binding. (Luke 6)
The last point led to conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees with regard to His
miracles when He healed on the Sabbath. He was accused of breaking the Sabbath laws
by healing on the Sabbath, which was considered as work.
This issue comes out in a number of passages in the Gospel, including this one from
Matthew 12.9-14: ‘Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.
And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying,
“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. Then He said
to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit
on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value
then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then
He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was
restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him,
how they might destroy Him.
The issue here is not the commandment to keep the Sabbath, but the additional commands
which had been added in the so-called ‘fence laws’. For more information on this
go to our article ‘Oral Torah – was it given at Sinai?’Jesus was arguing on the
principle that it was right to do good on the Sabbath, to save life and went ahead
and performed the healing on the Sabbath. In principle Jesus never gave any authority
to the ‘fence laws’ or the ‘Oral Torah’. This put him at odds with the religious
leaders of the day and puts him at odds with mainstream Judaism today.
Matthew chapter 12 goes on to describe Jesus healing great multitudes of people.
‘Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed
him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were
amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” Now when the Pharisees heard
it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler
of the demons.”’ Matthew 12.22-24.
This statement is very significant. Arnold Fruchtenbaum teaches that in Jesus’ day
the religious authorities had ruled that the sign of the coming Messiah was that
he would perform certain miracles – healing a man born blind, casting out a demon
from a deaf mute, and raising the dead. In Matthew 12 a delegation from the Pharisees
came to check out Jesus’ Messianic credentials. The multitudes saw the required
Messianic miracles taking place through Jesus’ ministry and in response they asked
the obvious question, ‘Could this be the Son of David (i.e. the Messiah)?’
Logically according to their own criteria the Pharisees should have replied, ‘Yes.’
However instead of attributing the miracle to the power of God they said it was
a work of the Devil. ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the
ruler of demons.’ Matthew 12.24. This meant the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah
and his teaching and the signs he was doing.
Jesus responded to this by pointing out the illogicality of the accusation: ‘If Satan
casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
… But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come
upon you.’ (Matthew 12.26-28) He also said that to make this accusation was to ascribe
the miracles of God to Satan which is the sin against the Holy Spirit which would
not be forgiven. (Matthew 12.26-28).
As a result of this rejection Jesus said that the sign which would be given to that
generation was the death and resurrection of the Messiah, typified as the ‘Sign of
Jonah’: ‘An adulterous generation seeks a sign and no sign will be given it except
the sign of 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 12.39-40.
The accusation that Jesus performed miracles by the power of Beelzebub is reflected
in later Jewish writings of the Tannaim and the Amoraim. There are passages in the
Talmud which speak of Yeshu, Balaam Ben Stada, Ben Pandera, ‘so-and-so’, Josos and
Ben Netzer, names which are said by some to be code names for Jesus. It is disputed
by some (including Asher Norman) that these speak of Jesus. However these passages
do have a common theme – that the one they describe was able to do miracles by sorcery.
One of the most well known is Sanhedrin 43a: ‘It was taught On the Eve of the Passover
Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place a herald went forth
and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed
Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour let him come forward
and plead on his behalf.’
The one known as ‘Ben Stada’ is said to have brought sorceries from Egypt, magic
spells by means of incisions on his body.
In his book ‘Jesus in the Jewish tradition’ Morris Goldstein writes: ‘Thus we have
seen that the Tannaim looked upon Jesus as one who practised sorcery and led the
people astray.’ P 92. In his view as Christianity laid more stress on the wonderful
birth, resurrection and miracles of Jesus, rabbinical Judaism regarded miracles as
We have two Christian records of disputes with Jewish opponents of Christianity both
of which contain reference to Jesus performing miracles by sorcery.
In Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (cap 69), written in around 165 CE (date
uncertain), we read how Jews at the time of Jesus claimed that a magic apparition
had occurred and ‘dared declare that he was a magician and seducer of the people.’
In Origen’s ‘Treatise against Celsus’, written around 248 CE, Celsus, who is an opponent
of Christianity, lets a Jew put forward view that Jesus appropriated to himself in
Egypt a power through which he ‘rose so that he thought highly of himself and on
account of those powers proclaimed himself God.’ Contra Celsum 1.28
‘Thereafter moved by I know not what Celsus says that the Christians are strong through
the names and the enchantments of certain demons. Then he further laid it to the
Saviour’s charge that he enabled to do so by sorcery had performed the fancied miraculous
feats and forseen that others would do the same if they had learned the same lessons
boasting that they did it through the power of God. These would dislodge Jesus from
his position.’ Contra Celsum 1.6.
In the Middle Ages the fiercely anti-Christian ‘Toledoth Yeshu’ was written. This
is a mixture of all kinds of hostile material to Jesus. What is interesting is that
it does contain the same accusation that Jesus did miracles by sorcery.
‘In the temple was the foundation stone on which the letters of the ineffable name
of God was written. Yeshu came and learned the letters of the name; he wrote them
on a parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh
over the parchment. The insurgents with him asked that if Yeshu was the Messiah
he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore brought him a lame man, who
had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the ineffable name and
the man was lame no more. Yet another sign did he give them. They brought a leper;
he spoke the letters of the ineffable name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon
they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest. Then the Sanhedrin was desirous
of Yeshu’s apprehension.’ ‘The Miracles of Jesus’ by Dr H Van der Loos p 168
I have held discussions with Orthodox Jews in London who have put forward exactly
this view – that Jesus performed miracles by obtaining the divine name by some kind
of deception and using sorcery. If we put all this together we have a consistent
picture of Jesus doing miracles by sorcery. Clearly we entirely reject this viewpoint,
believing that Jesus performed genuine miracles by the power of God. However what
is interesting is that there is a connection between the accusation that Jesus did
miracles by the power of Beelzebub recorded in the Gospels with the idea that he
did miracles by sorcery.
3. The miracles were genuine miracles done by the power of God.
All of the Gospels testify to Jesus’ power to do miracles. The miracles are seen
as a fulfilment of prophecy concerning the Messiah and a sign of His divine nature.
The Gospels record great multitudes coming to Jesus to be healed as a result of
which His fame spread throughout the whole region. Matthew 4.23-25 ‘And Jesus went
about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom,
and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then
His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were
afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed,
epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him—from
Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.’ See also
Matthew 8.16-17, 9.35-38, 15.29-31, Mark 1.32-45, 3.7-11, Luke 7. The news of the
miracles caused great crowds of people to come to Jesus to be healed.
The Gospels also record the disciples being given the power to heal the sick and
to cast out demons – Matthew 10, Mark 3.13-19, Luke 9 and 10. These twelve Jesus
sent out and commanded them, saying: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the
dead, cast out demons.’ See Matthew 10.5-10.
The results of this reached John the Baptist, now in prison:‘When John had heard
in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him,
“Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to
them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the
lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and
the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended
because of Me.” Matthew 11.1-6.
John is asking ‘Do these miracles mean you are the ‘Coming One’ / Messiah?’ Jesus
response is that the miracles speak for themselves. Only the Messiah can cause the
blind to see, the lame to walk and the dead to be raised up.
The New Testament teaches that the miracles of Jesus are signs which demonstrate
that He is promised one / Messiah. His miracles demonstrate His power over sickness,
demons, death and His power over the created world. He can walk on water, create
supernatural food, still the storm. He was able to do all of this because He is
Immanuel / God with us, the Creator demonstrating power over His creation. Following
the provision of supernatural bread at the feeding of the 5000 in John’s account
the reaction of the crowd is “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
John 6.14. ‘The Prophet’ here is the ‘Prophet like unto Moses’ (providing supernatural
bread for the people) who is also understood to be the Messiah.
Following the resurrection Peter describes the miracles of Jesus as a sign of Him
being the Messiah: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested
by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst,
as you yourselves also know.’ Acts 2.22.
The miracles are also seen as a fulfilment of the prophecies of the Bible. In Matthew
8.16 the miracles of Jesus are seen as a fulfilment of Isaiah 53.4 ‘When evening
had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the
spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which
was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore
In Luke 4.16-21 Jesus quotes Isaiah 61.1-2 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me because
He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at
liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” He
then applies this prophecy to Himself and by implication His miracles.
The Gospels also show that the miracles Jesus testify to His divine nature. In the
Gospel of Mark 2.3-12 we read how He healed the paralysed man. ‘Then they came to
Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come
near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they
had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When
Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does
this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But
immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves,
He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is
easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise,
take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power
on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,“I say to you, arise, take up
your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went
out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying,
“We never saw anything like this!”
Jesus is faced with the accusation that He was speaking blasphemy by saying ‘Your
sins are forgiven you,’ because only God can forgive sins. Jesus’ response is a
test question – ‘Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven
you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? Actually the harder thing
to say is: ‘Take up your bed and walk’. Jesus can say ‘Your sins are forgiven you’
and nothing visible will happen to show whether or not that has actually happened.
But if Jesus says ‘Take up your bed and walk’ and nothing happens it is obvious
that His claim is false on both counts – being able to heal the sick and to forgive
sins. By demonstrating that He can deliver on this humanly impossible thing and
cause the lame man to walk, Jesus shows that He also has the power to forgive sins
and is therefore a divine person.
Response to the miracles.
This issue was to become the main point of contention throughout the Gospels in Jesus’
relations with the religious leaders. In John 9 we read how Jesus healed a man born
blind. The Pharisees then interrogate the healed blind man and first accuse Jesus
of being ‘not from God’ because He does not keep the Sabbath and then say He is a
sinner and they do not know where He is from (John 9.16, 24, 29). The blind man
responds: “Why, this is a marvellous thing, that you do not know where He is from;
yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone
is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it
has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this
Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” John 9.30-33. Quite right! In fact
the Pharisees should have concluded from this miracle that Jesus was the Messiah
since opening the eyes of a man born blind was considered a miracle that only the
Messiah could do. As we have already seen in the previous section the issue of miracles
done on the Sabbath was another area of contention with the Pharisees.
As we have seen in the previous section the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees
surrounding the miracles led to the statement: ‘This fellow does not cast out demons
except by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons.’ Matthew 12.24. This statement was the
ultimate rejection of Jesus as the Messiah and led directly to the outcome of the
crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus – the sign of Jonah, which Jesus went on to
prophesy in Matthew 12.39-40.
Logically the Pharisees should have responded to the question of the multitude in
Matthew 12.23 ‘Could this be the Son of David? (i.e. the Messiah)’ by saying ‘Yes’.
Jesus had just performed one of the miracles of the Messiah.’ What would have happened
if the Pharisees had done so? This we can only speculate on. The text of Matthew’s
Gospel in particular points to the offer of the kingdom to Israel as a genuine one
which was ‘at hand’ if they would repent and believe in the Messiah. However God
in His foreknowledge knew there would be a rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. This
would lead to the death of Jesus by crucifixion, his burial and resurrection from
We see a similar scenario taking place when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in
John 11. As a result of this, more people in the region of Judea believed in Him
(John 11.45). In response to this we read: ‘Then the chief priests and the Pharisees
gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this man works many signs. If
we let Him alone like this everyone will believe in Him and the Romans will come
and take away both our place (i.e. the Temple) and nation. And one of them Caiaphas
being high priest that year said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider
that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and not that the
whole nation should perish.’
Again this raises the question: ‘Suppose they had said, ‘The only explanation for
this miracle is that Jesus is the Messiah. Only one sent by God could raise a man
from the dead. We should accept him as the King Messiah and leave it to him how
he will deal with the problem of the Roman occupation.’’ What would have been the
outcome? We can only speculate on that because God in his foreknowledge knew that
events were leading to the fateful decision of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin to hand
Jesus over to Pontius Pilate and the Romans to be crucified.
The text of the Gospel shows that even though Caiaphas’ words in John 11.51-52 were
uttered in rejection of Jesus, they had a prophetic content: ‘Now this he did not
say on his own authority but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus
would die for the nation and not for that nation only but also that he would gather
together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.’ In other words
through the coming sacrifice of Jesus the offer of salvation would be made to Jews
and Gentiles who would be gathered together into the body of Messiah which is the
The Gospels show a division of opinion about Jesus amongst the people – those who
greeted him in the words of Psalm 118 ‘Hosanna (Hebrew – hoshienu ‘ Lord save us),
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord’ (Luke 21.38) and those who
said ‘Let him be crucified’ (Matthew 27.22). I believe for the most part they were
two groups of people not the same crowd changing their minds a few days later. This
division of opinion was also found in the Sanhedrin where Joseph of Arimathea and
Nicodemus, members of the Sanhedrin, were not consenting with the decision to hand
over Jesus for crucifixion. They intervened to bury his body in Joseph’s tomb, thus
fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53.9 that the Suffering Servant would be ‘with
the rich at his death.’
This division would persist after the resurrection. The Apostles preached that Jesus
was risen from the dead and miracles continued to take place through the Apostles
who were empowered by the Holy Spirit after the Day of Pentecost. As a result multitudes
of people believed their message.
The miracles of the Apostles caused equal consternation to the religious leadership
as did the miracles of Jesus. After the healing of the lame man at the gate of the
Temple recorded in Acts 3 we read how Peter called the people listening to him to
repentance and faith. They included those who had called for Jesus’ death:
‘Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Messiah
would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your
sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of
the Lord, and that He may send Jesus the Messiah, who was preached to you before,
whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God
has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses
truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like
me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.
And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed
from among the people.’ Acts 3.17-21.
Acceptance of this message would bring forgiveness, times of refreshing from the
presence of the Lord and ‘the restoration of all things’. The response of the leadership
we find in chapter 4. ‘Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain
of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them being greatly disturbed that they
taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.’ The apostles
were arrested and the next day the ‘rulers, elders, and scribes as well as Annas
the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander and as many as were of the family of the
high priest were gathered together at Jerusalem.’ Acts 4.5. They asked the apostles
by what power they had performed this miracle.
Peter replied: ‘Rulers and elders of Israel: if this day we are judged for a good
deed done to a helpless man, let it be known to you and to all the people of Israel
that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified whom God raised from
the dead, by Him this man stands before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected
by you builders which has become the chief cornerstone (Psalm 118.22). Nor is there
salvation in any other, for there is no other name given under heaven among men by
which we must be saved.’ Acts 4.8-12.
These rulers could not deny that a miracle had taken place and all the people were
praising God for what had happened. The text says, ‘They conferred among themselves
saying, ‘What shall we do to these men? For indeed that a notable miracle has been
done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem and we cannot deny it.
But so that it spreads no further among the people let us severely threaten them
that from now on they speak to no man in this name.’ Acts 4.16-17. Suppose verse
17 had said, ‘Therefore we should repent of our sin and rejection of Jesus. He is
the Messiah and is risen from the dead. What these disciples of his are saying is
true and they should continue to teach and pray for the people in the Temple with
Again this is speculation, but if we look at the offer of Peter in Acts 3 it includes
the ‘restoration of all things’ which means the consummation of the Messianic programme
with the events associated with the return of the Messiah. Theoretically the acceptance
of the Messiah at this point with signs and wonders taking place visibly and daily
in the Temple confirming the resurrection of Jesus and the Apostles as his messengers
could have led very rapidly to the conversion of Israel and even of the Romans. The
miracles of the early part of Acts included the gift of tongues which meant the supernatural
ability to speak in other languages that had not been learnt by the speaker, so this
could even have led to the rapid evangelisation of the world.
What did happen was the rejection by the religious leadership of the Apostles and
their message that Jesus was the Messiah who had died as a sacrifice for sin and
risen from the dead. What this did lead to was the fall of the Second Temple and
the dispersion of the Jewish people into the nations. See our article ‘The Fall
of the Second Temple.’
This however is not the end of the story. The Bible prophesies the preservation
of the Jewish people and their return to the land of Israel and Jerusalem in the
last days of this age. To read more about this go to our articles ‘Biblical prophecies
about Israel’ and ‘The Battle for Israel.’
Jesus said to Jerusalem in Matthew 23.39: ‘You shall see Me no more till you say,
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’” (the greeting for the coming
of the Messiah). He also said ‘And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until
the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ (Luke 21.24).
These prophecies indicate a future restoration of Jerusalem when the Messiah returns
in fulfilment of other prophecies found in the Tenach (in particular Zechariah 12-14)
and takes up His reign on the earth, bringing peace and justice to the nations. This
will be a wonderful supernatural deliverance which can only be accomplished by the
King Messiah who will be Yeshua, Jesus when He returns and is accepted by the remnant
of Israel who ‘look on Him they have pierced and mourn for Him as for an only Son
Following this the earth will be delivered from the curse of sin and Satan will be
bound and unable to influence the nations. Jesus will rule the earth from Jerusalem
and His miracle working power will be manifested in the restoration of the earth
and the healing of the sick as described in a number of the prophecies of the Tenach
– in particular Isaiah 35.1-6:
‘The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice
and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and
singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and
Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the excellency of our God. Strengthen
the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense
of God; He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert.’
The miracles of the Messiah at His first coming will be repeated on a world wide
scale at His second coming as the earth is filled with the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea!