In chapter 7 of Luke, Jesus answers John the Baptist’s disciples’ question of whether He “was the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” by quoting prophecies from Isaiah about Himself telling them to “”go and tell John what you have seen and heard: 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.” Because of what Jesus said and what He actually did, John the Baptist would have had no doubt that He was the Messiah, “the one who is to come”.
Luke spends most of Chapters 5 through 9 recounting the many miraculous events and teachings of Jesus as He started His ministry. While it was relatively easy to identify who He was to John the Baptist, convincing the lost sheep of Israel that He was the Messiah was going to take quite a bit more work. Whether it was healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons or controlling nature, Jesus had the initial objective of establishing His authority. Who but God could have such incredible powers? After He healed the paralytic, “amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen extraordinary things today.'” (5:26) and after He raised the widow’s son from the dead, “fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!'” (7:16). Establishing His deity went on to establish the validity of His message of repentance and faith.
As we dig deeper into the details of these events we also see some specific patterns develop. One that comes through clearly is that Jesus was not performing these miracles for His own glory, but for God’s glory. When He cleansed the leper, “he charged him to tell no one, but ‘go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.'” (5:14) and when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead “her parents were amazed, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened” (8:56). It was vital to Jesus’ mission that people were not focused only on the miracles themselves, but on the ultimate source of the miracles, God.
Jesus was also intent on exposing the merciless hearts of Israel’s religious elite, the scribes and the Pharisees, and the worthless rules they imposed on people. They judged Him for eating with “tax collectors and sinners” at Levi’s (Matthew) house to which He responded “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (5:31-32). Their favorite time to catch Him “doing wrong” was on the Sabbath. When they stood ready to throw accusations at Him for healing a man’s hand on the Sabbath, He posed a simple question to them: “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” (6:9). They never had an answer for Him, just hatred.
In addition to this, Jesus needed to teach His flock about the Kingdom of God. Up to this point, the scribes and Pharisees were their main source of information about the character of God and we’ve seen how far off the mark they were. Beginning with the Sermon on the Mount He revealed humbling truth in the “Beatitudes” (6:20-23) and paradoxical thinking as He commanded them to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (6:27-28). Much of the rest of His teaching was done in parables because for His disciples “it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'” (8:10).
Jesus had much to do in a short period of time to accomplish His mission. Considering that He had nothing but sinful humans to work with, it’s clear to me that only God could have gotten the job done!