BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (10) – What credentials does Jesus show?

– Rev José Mario O Mandía

Jesus claims to be God. How does he prove it? What credentials does he show? We can point out two: miracles and prophecies.

MIRACLES

Jesus not only showed great wisdom. He backed his words with prodigious acts. St Mark tells us how “on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands!’” (Mark 6:2)

Surely this was no ordinary man! Nicodemus, a man of authority among the Jews, acknowledged Jesus’ authority: he “came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him’” (John 3:2).

The Gospels describe in detail at least 35 miracles which were seen not by a few but by many people.

What do we mean by “miracle”?

A miracle is an observable act which does not follow the usual manner of acting of created things and can only be produced by Someone or Something greater than nature and can control it. A miracle goes beyond the laws of nature in one of three ways, from which we can distinguish three types:

(1) The first type is a miracle of creation. By creation we mean producing something out of nothing, without using any existing raw material. An example is the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (cf Matthew 14:15-21; Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-13).

(2) The second type of miracle is that of immediate substantial change. (Examples of substantial change: paper turns into ashes after burning, human body disintegrates into its many components after death). Jesus performed this miracle a few times: resurrection of Lazarus (cf John 11:39-44), the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-16), and the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:49-55). This type also includes the miracle of changing water to wine (John 2:1-11).

(3) The third type is that of immediate accidental change. In this kind of miracle, something can be produced naturally, but in the miracle, it is produced outside the normal process, e.g., a cure which is effected immediately. This third type of miracle is a miracle not because of what is produced, but how it is produced. Examples of these are miracles of curing and healing that Jesus did (e.g., giving sight to the blind – John 9:6-7 and curing the lepers – Luke 17:12-16).

PROPHECIES

What are prophecies? A prophecy can be defined as a detailed and certain (i.e., sure) prediction of a definite future event, the foretelling of which is impossible by natural prevision or conjecture because the event predicted depends on many free causes (i.e., people which have free will) for its fulfilment. Prophecy therefore requires an intellectual power that is beyond human powers.

Jesus Christ made prophecies of events. His prophecies can be divided into four categories:

(1) Prophecies concerning himself, especially about his suffering, death and resurrection (cf for example Luke 9:44-45; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:1-2; Matthew 20:17-20).

(2) Prophecies concerning persons close to him, especially his Apostles (cf for instance Matthew 26:21-25, 31-34).

(3) Prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-23; Mark 13:1-2). This prophecy came true in the year 70 AD, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Details are recorded by the Jewish writer Josephus (ca 37-95 A.D.) in Jewish Wars.

(4) Prophecy concerning his followers in future times (cf Luke 21:12-13; Matthew 10:17-23).

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