JESUS AND THE WORKS OF THE KINGDOM
Closely related to Jesus’s teaching on the kingdom of God was what He called His “works”. What did He classify as His works? What was the purpose of His works?
Jesus did many miracles during His earthly life; He healed the sick, restored disabled people, raised the dead, drove out demons and did miracles that overruled nature. Was it just for showmanship so that He could draw the crowds; was it out of pure compassion for the suffering or was there a deeper significance to His miracles?
In order to understand the place of works in His mission as Messiah, let’s examine what Jesus had to say about His miracles.
Jesus made it clear that His miracles were closely connected to the kingdom of God. He did not come simply as a miracle-worker. On one occasion He escaped from the people who were clamouring for healing because His purpose was much bigger than merely bringing relief to the suffering. He had a message to deliver which took precedence over His healing ministry.
His works authenticated His identity as God’s Messiah.
There are many prophecies in the Old Testament – the Tanakh – that act like Messiah’s “fingerprints”. Just as the police department has a database of fingerprints which is used to identify criminals, so the Old Testament has a “database” of Messianic fingerprints to enable people to identify the Messiah. Jesus prophesied that many false messiahs would come, demanding attention and claiming allegiance. How would people be able to distinguish between true and false? Prophecy! All they had to do was to match the prophetic fingerprint with the fulfilment and they would know whether the claim was true or false.
John the Baptist was incarcerated in Herod’s dungeon for daring to indict him for adultery. While John languished in prison, Jesus was out and about preaching, teaching and doing miracles. Perhaps John had hoped that He would intervene and get him out of jail, but Jesus did not show up. Eventually, John began to lose heart. Could this one whom he had introduced to his people, really be the Messiah after all?
He sent a representation of his followers to Jesus to ask Him, “Are you really the Messiah or are you just another imposter like the rest? Must we look for someone else?”
Jesus adopted a think-for-yourself approach. He didn’t give John a straight “yes” or “no” answer. How much better for John to look at the evidence and decide for himself!
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 cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.’ (Matt. 11: 4-6)
In what way did Jesus’s works match the prophetic fingerprint? Isaiah 61 testified to His Messiahship – one anointed by the Holy Spirit to fulfil the Father’s assignment.
When Jesus returned to Nazareth after His baptism, He attended the synagogue on the Sabbath where He was invited to speak.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it is written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim freedom for the captives and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Isa. 61:1-2a)
Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him, and He began by saying to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ (Luke 4: 17-21)
Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 35 points to the Messianic age:
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf be unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy. (Isa. 35: 5-6a)
When would this happen? When God came in person to reverse the fortunes of His people.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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