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 subordinate.
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 our sicknesses.”’
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 the dead.
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 true church.
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 our blessing.’
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 (Zechariah 12.10).
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!