Answers for a Jew
Can we view miracles as proofs of the coming of the true Messiah? (beginning)
Question: In Matthew 24, Jesus says that if someone comes performing miracles and tricks to prove that he is the Messiah, we should not believe him: «For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect» (Mt 24:24). However, there are some passages (Lk 7, Jn 4) in which a disciple comes to Jesus and asks: "What can you do to prove to us that we should believe you?" Jesus answered: "I can perform miracles". Why is that?
Answer: Speaking of miracles, the reference is probably made to the following passage from John: «And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house» (Jn 4:46-53).
Blessed Theophilact of Bulgaria offers the following explanation of this passage: «The royal official asks the Lord to come and heal his son, and Jesus rebukes him for believing only in part. The words "Come down before my child dies" show the weakness of his faith. He does not believe that the Lord is able to raise his son from the dead. That is why Jesus rebukes him and says: "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe". This rebuke applies to all the people in Capernaum, not just him. This town is everywhere portrayed as guilty of unbelief. Because the royal official was not firm in his thoughts and insisted that Jesus should come and heal his son, the Savior showed that He could heal his son even without seeing him. So, he said: "Go, your son will live". There is a double healing here – his son was healed of his fever, and the official was healed of his unbelief. But do not forget that there is a difference between a miracle and a sign. A miracle is something that is reaches beyond and above nature. For example, opening the eyes of the blind or raising the dead. A sign is something that is not beyond or above nature. For example, healing an illness» (Explanation of the Gospel of John, Jn 4:46-50).
(to be continued)