Having made the journey from Evangelical Protestantism to Roman Catholicism, I have sometimes wondered what it would have been like if I had been raised as a good Jew in Jesus' day. Would I believe in Jesus? I'd like to say yes, but I have a suspicion that I would not.
If I was a good Jew I would believe in the one true God who alone is God. It would be blasphemous to think that a man could be God. Yet, here is Jesus saying just that and expecting people to believe Him. Well, people will go in for anything and if Jesus is charismatic enough, He might be able to get a following. Ah, but there is so much more going on here. How is it that Jesus expected people to believe in Him when they were always told that such things were wrong?
There are three points that converge to tip off any good Jew that Jesus is truly God incarnate. First, there are the Scriptures. The Law and the Prophets foretold the coming of the Lord. Jesus told the Jews, "You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me," (Jn. 5:39).
Second, Jesus' life and teaching led people to seek God. This fruit was another proof that Jesus must be from God. Again, Jesus said, "Every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit," (Mt. 7:17,18).
Finally, Jesus' miracles bore witness to who He is. He told the Jews, "The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me," (Jn. 5:36). When John was doubting, Jesus reminded him, "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them, and blessed is he who takes no offense at me," (Lu. 7:22,23). Jesus expected John to remember that the Scriptures had foretold these things about the Messiah. These would be His credentials to assure John of His identity. Finally, Jesus also told His disciples, "The Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves," (Jn. 14:10,11).
All of these things demonstrate that miracles played a prominent role in giving convincing evidence that Jesus was truly the Son of God. People weren't supposed to just trust blindly. They were to remember all that God had told them before- not just part of it.
Christianity is a religion of miracles. The miraculous element cannot be overlooked. It really figures prominently into who we are. It is part of God's revelation to us. He speaks to us through His signs.
So if I were a good Jew in Jesus' day and I were convinced that Jesus really is God incarnate, those would be the things leading me to that conclusion. In my next post I want to explore this idea further, especially as it pertains to our faith today.