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Conference 2017: Part 1 - The Messiah presents Himself to Israel.

Conference 2017 Part 1 17-06-16
length: 71:01 - taught on Jun, 16 2017
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Conference 2017: Part 1 - The Messiah presents Himself to Israel.

 

The Messiah presents Himself to Israel, to the Disciples, and to the Gentiles of the world.

 

In this brief study of the presentation of the Messiah we will look at three groups to whom He presented Himself for recognition: Israel, the disciples, and the Gentiles.

 

When the Lord Jesus Christ began His ministry at about thirty years of age He presented Himself exclusively to Israel. He was the fulfiller of all of her covenants and now it was time for the elect nation of God to recognize their Anointed One, their Messiah.

 

Certainly He did this in many ways and with many teachings (Luk 4). We could not find the time this weekend to establish all of them, and therefore, we will examine one of them.

 

The Three Messianic Miracles.

Healing the Jewish leper

Casting out the demon of a dumb man

Healing the man born blind

 

We know that Jesus performed countless miracles. Only a handful of the ones He publically did are recorded in the gospels. Out of these there are three that stand out as a special call to Israel that their King Messiah was amongst them. Of the other miracles mentioned, these were not unique to Messiah. The prophets had the power of healing and even raising from the dead. But there are three miracles that bear the fingerprints of Israel's Promised One.

 

These key miracles recorded in the Gospels were different from anything else that had ever been performed in the Hebrew scriptures.

 

These miracles had never been performed.

They caused unique reactions from the people and the Pharisees.

 

These miracles caused unique reactions among the people. The reactions as well as the fact that these particular signs had never been performed before constitute two primary criteria for determining that the miracles were messianic.

 

The general ability to perform signs and wonders is not unique to Jesus.

 

During the time of Moses and the days of Elijah and Elisha, God worked through miracles; people were healed and the dead were raised, 1KI 17:22; 2KI 4:35.  

 

The purpose of the miracles performed by OT saints was not the same as that of Jesus. After a miracle, no one asked a prophet if he was the Messiah.

 

The miracles performed by Moses and the prophets were to authenticate their calling. Jesus performed the same miracles, but in a far greater abundance, but when He performed some specific miracles, the crowds immediately wondered about the possibility that He was the Messiah and the Sanhedrin took an especially close look at Him. Anyone could have said they were the Messiah. When Peter recognized Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus told the disciples not to repeat it to anyone. It would seem that the Lord wanted His teaching, His acts, and His miracles to reveal His identity, and then when they had sufficiently done so, He spoke of His identity.

 

Jesus performed the same miracles as the prophets:

 

LUK 7:14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!" 

 

LUK 7:15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

 

LUK 7:16 And fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and, "God has visited His people!"

 

LUK 7:17 And this report concerning Him went out all over Judea, and in all the surrounding district.

 

They recognized His supernatural character and compared Him to John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets.

 

MAT 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 

 

MAT 16:14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."

 

The following three miracles are not presented in any particular order.

 

The healing of the Jewish leper

 

LUK 5:12 And it came about that while He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

 

LUK 5:13 And He stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him.

 

LUK 5:14 And He ordered him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, for a testimony to them." 

 

LUK 5:15 But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.

 

LUK 5:16 But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

 

In Leviticus there are 116 verses dedicated to the topic of leprosy in determining if a person has it and if they were healed of it, LEV 13:1ff.. No other disease is treated so extensively by the law.

 

It is interesting that no other disease is written about to this extent, and that no Jew had ever been cured of it until Jesus did it.

 

Very specific instructions are given for determining if a person has leprosy and then for how to proceed.

 

Only a priest had the authority to declare someone a leper.

 

If a Jew was determined to be a leper, the leper would have to immediately tear his garment and from then on have to walk around with torn clothing. He had to keep his face covered from the nose down. He was ostracized from the Jewish community and would need to live in places reserved for lepers only. He was also prohibited from entering the Temple compound and could not receive the spiritual benefits of the Temple service. Anyone touching a leper would become ceremonially unclean as well. Therefore, if a leper was traveling on a road, he had to warn other passersby by a shout of "Unclean, unclean!"

 

The Law also gives details of what the priesthood would need to do if a Jew was healed of leprosy.

 

If someone declared himself a healed leper, a priest would need to meet and inspect him outside the camp.

 

If he observed the person to be heeled, on that same day, he would need to make an offering of two birds. One bird was killed by the by the shedding of blood, and the other bird was dipped into the blood of the first bird and then set free. For the next seven days, the priests would need to thoroughly investigate the situation in order to be sure of the healing. As to the question of having been a leper, there would be a record of it since only a priest had the authority to declare someone a leper; as to the question of the healing, every part of the body was carefully examined for a total of seven consecutive days. All hairs, including eyebrows, were shaved off to make sure the examination was thorough. If there were specific circumstances to the healing, then that too would come out in the investigation. If everything proved positive after seven days, the eighth day would be a lengthy day of ritual. On that day, there would be four specific offerings: a sin offering, a trespass offering, a burnt offering, and a meal offering. The blood of the sin offering would be applied to three parts of the leper's body: the right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe. The same procedure was followed with the blood of the trespass offering. The ceremony would conclude with the anointing, during which oil was poured on the same three parts of the body. Only then was the former leper free to reenter Jewish society and have access to the Temple.

 

Yet, with all of these instructions, they never had opportunity to put them into effect.

 

Three Jews were stricken with leprosy as divine judgment. Miriam, the sister of Moses. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, and Uzziah, king of Judah. As a result, leprosy was viewed as a divine judgment by God, and the feeling was that there would simply be no possibility of curing a Jewish person from it.

 

If God cursed a person, no man could undo it. Therefore, it was fully concluded that only God could cure leprosy.

 

Moses' sister Miriam was stricken with leprosy and then healed by God instantly, but this was not a natural case that Lev 13-14 dealt with. Of record only a non-Jew, Naaman, was healed of it.

 

Of the three, the only one who was healed was Miriam, but her healing was nothing like the instructions in Leviticus. Her leprosy came upon her instantly as a result of her sin and it was healed over the seven days that she was expelled from the camp.

 

A non-Jew was healed of leprosy. Naaman was a Syrian.

 

Jesus stated:

 

LUK 4:24 He said, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his home town.

 

LUK 4:25 "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land;

 

LUK 4:26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.

 

LUK 4:27 "And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."

 

We conclude that up to the days of Jesus, no Jew had been healed of leprosy outside the unique instance of Miriam.  

 

In the early part of His ministry, Jesus healed a Jewish leper whose disease was fully developed, meaning that the disease would soon take his life.

 

LUK 5:12 And it came about that while He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

 

"full of leprosy" - Dr. Luke knows that it is fully developed and would soon take the man's life.

 

Luke is a doctor and he is the only gospel writer to indicate that the man was "full of leprosy," meaning that it was at a late stage and the man had it for at least 10 years.

 

Hansen's Disease: It is caused by a bacterial infection. In the vast majority of the cases, the initial symptom is numbness in the fingers and toes, and if left untreated, the disease slowly progresses to the next stages. Yellowish lesions develop deep in the skin on the genitalia, face, forehead, and joints. The hair growing in the affected areas assumes the same color as the lesions, and as the disease progresses so slowly, it can take up to ten years for the microorganisms to eventually penetrate through the cellular tissue and reach the muscles and bones. Hair beings to turn white, wooly, and eventually falls out. There is a gelatinous swelling that forms in the cellular tissue. As time progresses, the skin becomes hard, rough, and seamy. Large scabs form which fall off from time to time, exposing running sores. The nails swell, curl up, and fall off. There is a loss of mucus membrane, resulting in constantly bleeding gums. The nose is stuffed, and there is a constant flow of saliva. Because the bacteria attack the nerves, the senses become dull. In the last stages of leprosy, the victim experiences extreme weight loss and becomes very weak, suffering from chronic diarrhea, chronic thirst, and burning fever. Finally, there is an attack on the internal and vital organs, leading to death. The man in this account is in the final stages.

 

The fact that the man is coming to Jesus to be healed shows that he already believed in Him - "You can make me clean."

 

He didn't ask, "Can you make me clean."

 

Mark reveals the Lord's motivation:

 

MAR 1:41

And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."

 

All three gospels take note of the fact that He touched him. As is shown in other miracles, Jesus could heal from long distances, so He didn't have to do this. No one had touched this man in perhaps ten to twenty years. Now the One to touch him was the Messiah, the Son of God. There is emphasis on the touching to reveal Jesus' love and compassion.

 

After healing him, Jesus instructs him to go directly to the priests in Jerusalem to begin the Leviticus ritual.

 

Jesus instantly healed him by touching him and then gave him very specific instructions. He instructed him not to engage in conversation with anyone, but to go directly to the priesthood and begin the process of cleansing as commanded in the Mosaic Law. All of the rituals, over seven days, would have to be applied according to Lev 13-14.

 

All three gospels state that he was to go to the priest - "for a testimony unto them." (the priests)

 

This is very significant. Jesus is sending the evidence of His Messiahship directly to the priesthood in Jerusalem. They would have understood that no one had ever done this, plus, Israel had long ago come to the conclusion that only God could heal leprosy.

 

There was a purpose to this miracle other than being compassionate to a sick man. It was evidence that the Messiah was among them just as John the Baptist had foretold.

 

By the end of eight days of inspection, the priests would have come to know that Jesus of Nazareth had done this healing.

 

In the Gospel of Mark, this account precedes a series of five controversies that Jesus had with the leadership of Israel, which suggests that this miracle was a key one in getting the attention of the leadership to what Jesus was doing.

 

The Rabbis recorded procedures for healing many diseases, but none were written for leprosy.

 

The Jews in Jesus' time had come to see leprosy as a curse from God and so they concluded that the disease could not be healed. Only God could heal it.

 

The cases in the Bible all refer to sever discipline by God. The fact that no Jew had been healed of it outside of the unique instance of Miriam, further promoted this belief.

 

The rabbis would have confirmed by their records that the man was a leper. After seven days of inspection they would have determined that he was indeed healed. And over this time they would have confirmed that it was indeed Jesus of Nazareth who had healed him. A very unique miracle had occurred. The Sanhedrin would have had a meeting to determine what to do and they sent a delegation to begin an investigation of Him. They did the same to John the Baptist and the Master will become as the herald.

 

We initially see an event that occurred "after some days" in Capernaum, a three-day journey from Jerusalem.

 

MAR 2:1 And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home.

 

MAR 2:2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.

 

MAR 2:3 And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men.

 

MAR 2:4 And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.

 

MAR 2:5 And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." 

 

MAR 2:6 But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,

 

MAR 2:7 "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?"

 

MAR 2:8 And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?

 

MAR 2:9 "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Arise, and take up your pallet and walk'?

 

MAR 2:10 "But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" —  He said to the paralytic — 

 

MAR 2:11 "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." 

 

MAR 2:12 And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

 

Though this healing comes soon after His healing of the leper it is a typical healing done by Jesus, however, in the company of those present He says something very unique, "Your sins are forgiven."

 

So what does this have to do with the healing of the leper? Gathered at this event was…

 

[Directly after Luke's account of the healing of the Jewish leper]

LUK 5:17 And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.

 

LUK 5:18 And behold, some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in, and to set him down in front of Him.

 

LUK 5:19 And not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus.

 

LUK 5:20 And seeing their faith, He said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." 

 

LUK 5:21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?"

 

Present are spiritual leaders from Judah and Jerusalem, where the leper had himself declared healed. They had made a three day journey to see Jesus.

 

These are not just local spiritual leaders who merely happened to be there. Following his healing, the Jewish leadership had quickly gone out of their way to come and see for themselves just what was going on in Galilee, and boy did they get an eye-full and an ear-full.

 

Furthermore, the Gospels tell us how the crowds reacted to the healing of the leper. As we read in Mark, Jesus could now no more openly enter into a city. He had already performed many miracles, but they did not create the stir that this one did, causing Jesus to limit the cities to which He traveled.

 

2. Casting out a demon that causes muteness.

 

Jesus cast out many demons and the people were astounded.

 

LUK 4:36 And amazement came upon them all, and they began discussing with one another saying, "What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."

 

LUK 4:37 And the report about Him was getting out into every locality in the surrounding district.

 

However, when He cast out the demon of the man who was blind and dumb, they wondered if He was the Son of David, a Messianic title.

 

MAT 12:22 Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw.

 

MAT 12:23 And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?"

 

Some background in the belief of the Jews at this time will help us to understand.

 

Exorcism wasn't all that unusual in the days of Jesus. Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees and their disciples cast them out, or so they believed they did.

 

MAT 12:27 "And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?"

 

Jesus gave His disciples the power to cast out demons in His name.

 

LUK 10:17 And the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

 

From rabbinical literature we can see that a Jew trying to perform and exorcism followed a procedure. The exorcist first established communication with the demon who was using the voice of the person under its control. Then, after establishing communication with the demon, the exorcist had to discover its name. Once he knew the name of the demon, then he could order him out.

 

Procedure for exorcism from rabbinical literature:

Establish communication with the demon.

Discover its name.

Order him out.

[they believed that this was the only way]

 

In our part of the world where we don't see a lot of people claiming to be demon possessed we may find it easy to scoff at this. But I think the point is not so much whether the Jews who used this method were successful in casting out demons. It is that they believed that this was the way to do it. And because they believed that such a procedure could affect an exorcism, they also came to believe that it was impossible to cast a demon out of a man who couldn't speak, since the exorcist wouldn't be able to establish communication or find out the name of the demon.

 

So when Jesus cast the demon out of the dumb man, the people asked themselves, is this the Son of David?

 

We ask, did the religious leaders respond differently to this miracle as well? Decidedly so.

 

When the leaders saw that this stirred up the messianic expectations of the people, their hands were tied. They couldn't claim that it didn't happen. That it happened was undeniable. They were forced to either officially recognize Jesus as the Messiah or find some other explanation.

 

Their solution was to claim that Jesus was only able to cast out the demon of the mute man by the power of Satan (Beelzebub, the prince of the demons, another name for Satan).

 

Jesus quickly points out their illogic.

 

MAT 12:25 And knowing their thoughts He said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.

 

MAT 12:26 "And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?

 

MAT 12:27 "And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.

 

Did Jesus say anything significant about Himself as Messiah?

 

The final test that this may be a specific miracle to identify to Israel that Jesus was the Messiah, is if Jesus Himself said anything significant.

 

MAT 12:28 "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."

 

Only the Messiah - King can bring the kingdom of God upon them.

 

Interestingly, when a man brought his son, possessed with a demon that made him mute, they could not cast it out.

 

MAR 9:17 And one of the crowd answered Him, "Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute;

 

MAR 9:18 and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and stiffens out. And I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it."

 

MAR 9:19 And He answered them and said, "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!" 

 

MAR 9:20 And they brought the boy to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling about and foaming at the mouth.

 

MAR 9:21 And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood.

 

MAR 9:22 "And it has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"

 

MAR 9:23 And Jesus said to him, "'If You can!' All things are possible to him who believes." 

 

MAR 9:24 Immediately the boy's father cried out and began saying, "I do believe; help my unbelief."

 

MAR 9:25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again." 

 

MAR 9:26 And after crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, "He is dead!"

 

MAR 9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.

 

MAR 9:28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?"

 

MAR 9:29 And He said to them, "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer."

 

The point of Jesus' answer would not be so much about prayer as it is that they could cast out demons in His name but not this one.

 

They would have had to pray for the Father to cast it out, for only God can cast out this kind. We notice that Jesus did not pray. He simply rebuked it and the commanded it. It obeyed Him because He is God.

 

The third miracle that is messianic, is the healing of the man born blind.

 

Once again we see a uniqueness to the response of the people and the Pharisees since it directly heralds Him as the Messiah. In the narrative it seemed fairly acceptable that a great prophet could heal a man who had gone blind.

 

Yet never had anyone thought or heard of a healing of a man blind from birth.

 

JOH 9:1 And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.

 

JOH 9:2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?"

 

JOH 9:3 Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.

 

JOH 9:4 "We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work.

 

JOH 9:5 "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

 

As in the case of the other two, the uniqueness of this miracle is partly revealed in the response of the people and the Pharisees.

 

The restoration of sight to people who had gone blind was not thought to be messianic.

 

JOH 9:32 "Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind."

 

It is obvious that no prophet of the past could have done such a thing.

 

The man was a beggar, but so astonished were the people, he was taken to the Pharisees to get this explained.

 

The people around him knew that he was a beggar and they knew him well. So astonishing was the miracle that they took the man to the Pharisees, which led to an interrogation of the man and even an interrogation of his parents.

 

The Jews believed that if a person was born with an infirmity then it must have either been because of a sin of the parents or some sin that God knew that the person was going to commit in the future. Hence, verse 2.

 

JOH 9:2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?"

 

JOH 9:34 They answered and said to him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they put him out.

 

This miracle led the man to believe in Jesus as the Son of Man, which is a purely messianic title.

 

JOH 9:35 Jesus heard that they had put him out; and finding him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 

 

JOH 9:36 He answered and said, "And who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?"

 

JOH 9:37 Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you." 

 

JOH 9:38 And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him.

 

JOH 9:39 And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind." 

 

JOH 9:40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?"

 

JOH 9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains."

 

The divine purpose behind these miracles was not to authenticate His priesthood or the fact that He was another prophet, but to verify that He was indeed the Messiah of Israel.

 

JOH 15:24 "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well."

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