Jesus of Nazareth vs Magicians and Empiricists

When Magicians work their tricks, people applaud, are charmed, and wonder aloud how they ever did that.

But with the Lord Jesus Christ it was very different. His saving deeds evoked fear, the sign of a real miracle occuring in the midst of sane men and women. As witness the Gospel history:

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering…

33 …Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” —-Luke 8:43-47

Too, in Luke’s account of the Lord’s stilling of the storm,

“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.” In fear they asked one another, “Who is this thet even the winds and the water obey him?” Lk.8:24, 25

“Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.” — Luke 8:37 Etc., etc. 

And in the first half dozen chapters in the Gospel of Luke and elsewhere we see this reaction of fear in response to genuine miracles time and again.

The religious art of Franco Zeferelli. Jesus of Nazareth, 1977

And this was certainly most intensely true when Jesus raised Jarius’ daughter and Lazarus from the dead.

And it is why multitudes came from afar, day and night, to see and hear Him

The miracles of Jesus evoked faith in persons of good will and convinced them that Someone far “greater than Solomon” was present among them whose divinity was manifest (Jn 1:1-14). Even the Temple leaders in the gospels (and important Roman Centurions) did not dispute what they too saw and could not deny, so, in the case of the Temple leaders who were jealous of their own authority, their only recourse was to attribute these real supernatural events to Beelzebub, Satan, as if Satan could cast out Satan and lead souls to righteousness.

But some, Jesus said, will never believe:

“And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”.—Luke 16:31

Strident empiricists refuse to believe anything that cannot be observed, measured, quantified, repeated in experiments. Despite their own inability to know the whole universe exhaustively, and begging the question regarding their own faith and first premise that “There is no God”— they mock the notions of the supernatural and the miraculous. They, like good Deists, think it preposterous that a God could create the universe and then “interfere” with its “laws”. They, mere creatures that they are, arbitrarily insist that a Creator “worthy of belief,” would not wish to communicate with His own creation in word and deed and so they erect a wall between their conception of deity and all contingent being— if they accept any Creator at all.

But, according to the Gospel God is not aloof from His creation but has revealed Himself in history, seeking out the sinful and the broken, to heal and to save us. And to that end alone He in His perfect sovereignty has on occasion employed the miraculous to very powerfully get our attention.

Alas, some however refuse to believe and so shut the door in God’s face.

John 3: 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”–SH

I Am Therefore I Think

Is A Personal God Improbable? Or is it we who are improbable?Atheism has traditionally scoffed at belief in a God who is Personal or SupraPersonal. I’ve always found their position to be a counterintuitive curiosity. One of the reasons why is that I find myself, a personal being, to exist. I am here. You are here. And this existence never ceases to be a shock when I consider the statistical improbability of any of us (or any thing) existing at all….” Continue…