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CHRISTOLOGY: THE DOCTRINE OF MESSIAH

By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

This is the seventeenth Shofar study of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's Christology series. Previous studies may be accessed by links in our Library and Sound Doctrine pages.

  • Before Abraham was born, I am ~ John 8:58

  • I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me ~ John 14:6

  • He that hath seen me hath seen the Father ~ John 14:9

Few doctrines can be considered more fundamental than the nature, character and works of Messiah, and few teachers are able to convey such truths with the thoroughness, detail, accuracy, clarity, organization and fluidity that characterizes Dr. Fruchtenbaum. So let's sharpen our focus and continue.

Study 17: Ariel Ministries' Messianic Bible Study #035:

THE THREE MESSIANIC MIRACLES

By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

1983, 2005 Ariel Ministries. All rights reserved. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced in any form, except in brief quotation in a review or professional work, without written permission from the publishers. Cover illustration by Olivier Melnick.

Email: Homeoffice @ ariel . org. When email, remove the spaces.
Website: www.ariel.org.

This manuscript is republished by special permission of Ariel Ministries.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. THE FIRST MESSIANIC MIRACLE: THE HEALING OF A LEPER
A. Introduction
B. The Healing of the Leper
C. The Jewish Response
II. THE SECOND MESSIANIC MIRACLE: THE CASTING OUT OF A DUMB DEMON
A. Introduction
B. The Casting Out of a Dumb Demon
C. The Jewish Response
D. The Judgment
E. The Change in the Messiah's Ministry
1. Concerning the Purpose of His Miracles
2. Concerning the Basis of His Miracles
3. Concerning the Message of His Messiahship
4. Concerning the Method of His Teaching
F. Another Dumb Demon
III. THE THIRD MESSIANIC MIRACLE: THE HEALING OF A MAN BORN BLIND
A. Introduction
B. The Physical Healing of a Man Born Blind
C. The First Interrogation of the Man
D. The Interrogation of the Parents
E. The Second Interrogation of the Man
F. The Spiritual Healing
IV. THE FINAL MESSIANIC WITNESS

Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?

~ Mark 2:9 ~

INTRODUCTION

Some time prior to the coming of Yeshua (Jesus), the ancient rabbis separated miracles into two categories. First were those miracles anyone would be able to perform if they were empowered by the Spirit of God to do so. The second category of miracles were called "messianic miracles," which were miracles only the Messiah would be able to perform. Yeshua did miracles in both categories: general miracles and also messianic miracles. So because of the rabbinic teaching that certain miracles would be reserved only for the Messiah to do, whenever He performed a messianic miracle it created a different type of reaction than when He performed other types of miracles. This will be a study of the three messianic miracles, the reaction to them and the results of them.

I. THE FIRST MESSIANIC MIRACLE:
THE HEALING OF A LEPER

A. INTRODUCTION

The first messianic miracle was the healing of a leper. Under the Mosaic Law, the only time it was possible for a person to be defiled by a living human body was if he touched a leper. Normally, under the Mosaic Law, one could only become ceremonially unclean or defiled by touching a dead human body; touching a dead animal's body; or touching a live unclean animal's body, such as a pig. The only time defilement came by a living human body was by coming into contact with a leper.

From the time the Mosaic Law was completed, there was no record of any Jew who had been healed of leprosy. While Miriam was healed of leprosy, this was before the completion of the Law. Naaman was healed of leprosy, but he was a Syrian Gentile, not a Jew. From the time the Mosaic Law was completed, there was never a case of any Jew being healed of leprosy.

Leprosy was the one disease that was left out of rabbinic cures; there was no cure for leprosy whatsoever. Yet Leviticus 13-14 gave the Levitical Priesthood detailed instructions as to what they were to do in case a leper was healed. On the day that a leper approached the priesthood and said, "I was a leper but now I have been healed," the priesthood was to give an initial offering of two birds. For the next seven days, they were to investigate intensively the situation to determine three things. First, was the person really a leper? Second, if he was a real leper, was he really cured of his leprosy? Third, if he was truly cured of his leprosy, what were the circumstances of the healing?

If after seven days of investigation they were firmly convinced that the man had been a leper, had been healed of his leprosy, and the circumstances were proper, then, on the eighth day there would be a lengthy series of offerings. All together, there were four different offerings. First, there was a trespass-offering; second, a sin-offering; third, a burnt-offering; and fourth, a meal-offering. Then came the application of the blood of the trespass-offering upon the healed leper followed by the application of the blood of the sin-offering upon the healed leper. The ceremony would then end with the anointing of oil upon the healed leper.

Although the priesthood had all these detailed instructions as to how they were to respond in the case of a healed leper, they never had the opportunity to put these instructions into effect, because from the time the Mosaic Law was given, no Jew was ever healed of leprosy. As a result, it was taught by the rabbis that only the Messiah would be able to heal a Jewish leper.

The healing of the leper was classed as the first of the three messianic miracles.

B. THE HEALING OF THE LEPER

The three Gospel accounts that tell us about the healing of a leper are: Matthew 8:2-4, Mark 1:40-45 and Luke 5:12-16. Matthew and Mark merely state that the man was a leper, but Luke, who by profession was a medical doctor, gave more details.

According to Luke 5:12 the man was full of leprosy. That means the leprosy was now fully developed, and it would not be very long before the leprosy would take this man's life. This man with fully developed leprosy came to Jesus and said, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. The leper clearly recognized the authority of Jesus as the Messiah who had the power to heal a leper. The only question on the part of the leper was His willingness to do so. At that point, we read in verse 13 that Yeshua touched the leper and straightway the leprosy departed from him.

But carefully note what He told the leper to do, according to Luke 5:14: And he charged him to tell no man: but go your way, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. The word them refers to the leadership of Israel. Jesus sent this man directly to the priesthood in Jerusalem in order to force them to follow through with the commands of Moses in Leviticus 13-14. This man appeared before the priesthood of Israel and declared himself to be a cleansed leper; on that day, the priesthood offered up two birds as a sacrifice.

For the next seven days, they intensively investigated the situation and discovered three things. First, they discovered this man really had been a leper. Second, they discovered that the man was perfectly healed of his leprosy. Third, they also discovered that Yeshua of Nazareth was the One who healed the man of his leprosy.

Because they taught that the healing of a leper was a messianic miracle, anyone healing a leper would, by that very act, claim to be the Messiah Himself. Jesus deliberately sent this cleansed leper to the priesthood in order to get the leaders to start investigating His messianic claims and to come to a decision regarding those same messianic claims. He wanted to force the Jewish leaders to make a decision regarding His Person - that He was the Messiah; and His message - that He was offering to Israel the Kingdom predicted by the Jewish prophets.

Having sent the healed leper to the leadership of Israel, Yeshua then withdrew himself in the deserts, and prayed (Lk. 5:16). He went into the desert where, on an earlier occasion, He had fasted and was tempted by Satan. This time He went into the desert for the purpose of praying. What was He praying about? He was praying for what would happen next and how the leadership of Israel would respond to this messianic miracle.

C. THE JEWISH RESPONSE

What occurred next is found in three of the Gospels: Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26. Mark points out that this incident occurred in Capernaum in Galilee, many miles from Jerusalem.

Yet Luke 5:17 states: And it came to pass on one of those days, that he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, who were come out of every village of Galilee and Judaea and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.

What we do not have here is merely a few Jewish leaders from the town of Capernaum listening to Yeshua's teaching. Luke's account very clearly states that these were all of the Jewish leaders that have come together from all over the country: Galilee, Judea, and the Jerusalem environs. Why are all these Jewish leaders suddenly having a convention in Capernaum? This was their response to the first messianic miracle. They knew that Jesus had healed a leper. According to their own teachings, only the Messiah would be able to heal a leper. If He healed the leper, it could very well mean that He was the Messiah. They all came together to investigate Him.

According to Sanhedrin law, if there was any kind of messianic movement, the Sanhedrin had to investigate the situation in two stages. The first stage was called the "stage of observation." A delegation was formed to investigate only by way of observation. They had to observe: what was being said; what was being done; and what was being taught. They were not permitted to ask any questions or raise any objections. After a period of observation, they were to return to Jerusalem, report to the Sanhedrin and give a verdict: was the movement significant or was the movement insignificant? If the movement was decreed to be insignificant, the matter would be dropped.

But if the movement was declared to be significant, there would then be a second stage of investigation called the "stage of interrogation." In this stage, they would interrogate the individual or members of the movement. This time they would ask questions and raise objections to discover whether the claims should be accepted or rejected. This incident in Luke 5:17 records the first stage, the stage of observation. They were there to observe what Jesus was saying and doing. At this point, they were not allowed to raise objections or ask questions. So because a messianic miracle had been performed, all the leaders from all over the country had come to Capernaum to participate in the stage of observation, to observe what Yeshua was saying, doing and teaching.

As Jesus was teaching, four friends of a paralytic tried to bring him to Yeshua so that he could be healed. Because all the Jewish leaders were blocking the doorway, they were not able to get in. They climbed onto the roof, made a hole in the roof and lowered the paralytic to the feet of Jesus. At this point Yeshua departed from His normal procedure. He did not, as He had done on previous occasions, simply proceed to heal the sick one brought to Him.

Instead, in Mark 2:5 we read: And Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins are forgiven.

Rather than healing the man, Jesus made a dramatic announcement; your sins are forgiven, knowing very well that with all the leaders present, it was going to create a negative response.

Indeed it did, because in Mark 2:6 we read: But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts ...

This was the stage of observation. They could only observe; they were not allowed to raise questions or objections.

According to Mark 2:7, they reasoned in their hearts: Why does this man thus speak? he blasphemes: who can forgive sins but one, even God?

Their theology was absolutely correct: no one could forgive sins except God. Since Yeshua declared the prerogative of forgiving sins, it meant one of two things. First, it could mean that He was a blasphemer. But the second possibility was that He was who He claimed to be: the Messianic Person. It was at this point that Yeshua turned to the leadership of Israel and questioned them.

Mark 2:9 states: Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?

The question was: "What is an easier thing for a man to say?" Is it easier for someone to say to another, "Your sins are forgiven?" Or, is it easier for someone to say to a palsied man, "I'm going to heal you, so stand up and walk?" The easier thing to say was, "Your sins are forgiven" because that required no tangible, external and observable evidence. But to state that a palsied man was going to be healed was a harder thing to say because that did require external and observable evidence.

Jesus went on to say that He was going to prove that He could say the easier Your sins are forgiven by performing the harder, healing the palsied man. He proceeded to heal the palsied man. There was instantaneous, observable evidence, because the man was able to stand up, walk around, and even carry his own bed. This proved that Yeshua could say the easier, that this man's sins were also forgiven. If Jesus could forgive sins, then it meant that He was who He claimed to be: the Messianic Person.

In response to the first messianic miracle of the healing of a leper, the intensive investigation of His messianic claims began. The leaders observed Jesus claiming the right to forgive sins. Therefore, He was either a blasphemer or He was the Messianic Person. It is evident that the leadership of Israel would return to Jerusalem and decree the movement of Yeshua as significant. After this event, He began undergoing the second stage of the Sanhedrin investigation, the stage of interrogation. Between the performance of the first messianic miracle and the second messianic miracle, everywhere Jesus went, a Pharisee was sure to follow. This time, they were no longer silent. Everywhere He went, a Pharisee was always there asking questions or raising objections. They were trying to find a basis for rejecting or accepting His messianic claims.

II. THE SECOND MESSIANIC MIRACLE:
THE CASTING OUT OF A DUMB DEMON

A. INTRODUCTION

Between the first messianic miracle, the healing of a leper, and the second messianic miracle, Yeshua had been investigated by the leadership of Israel. He was interrogated and questioned everywhere He went. The leadership learned several things. The crucial thing they realized was that Jesus was simply not going along with Pharisaic Judaism. He was not accepting Pharisaic authority. He was teaching things which contradicted the Pharisaic interpretation of the Mosaic Law. In the Sermon on the Mount, He had repudiated Pharisaism on two counts: First, as a proper interpretation of the righteousness, which the Law of Moses demanded; and second, as the kind of righteousness necessary for entering the Kingdom.

B. THE CASTING OUT OF A DUMB DEMON

The circumstances of the second messianic miracle are recorded in two Gospels: Matthew 12:22-37 and Mark 3:19-30.

Mark 3:21 states: And when his friends heard it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

At this stage in the Gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, there seems to be a general recognition that a high point was about to be reached. Even His friends considered the fact that Yeshua needed protection from Himself, because they felt His zeal was bordering on insanity.

Then Mark 3:22 reads: And the scribes that came down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and, By the prince of the demons cast he out the demons. Although this incident occurs in Galilee, it was instigated by an official delegation from Jerusalem. A decision was finally reached by the Sanhedrin regarding His messianic claims.

The event that triggered the Sanhedrin claim is recorded in Matthew 12:22: Then was brought unto him one possessed with a demon, blind and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the dumb man spoke and saw.

In verse 22, Jesus cast out a demon that caused the person controlled to be both blind and dumb or mute meaning he could not speak.

The act of casting out demons was not all that unusual in the Jewish world of that day. Even the Pharisees, rabbis, and their followers had the ability to cast out demons. But casting out demons within the framework of Pharisaic Judaism required one to use a specific ritual, which included three stages. First, the exorcist would have to establish communication with the demon, for when a demon speaks, he uses the vocal cords of the person he indwells. Second, after establishing communication with the demon, the exorcist would then have to find out the demon's name. Third, after finding out the demon's name, he could, by the use of that name, cast out the demon. There are occasions that Yeshua used the Jewish methodology, as in Mark 5, when He, being confronted with a demoniac, asked the question, What is your name? The answer on that occasion was, My name is Legion for we are many.

However, there was one kind of demon against which Judaism's methodology was powerless, and that was the kind of demon who caused the controlled person to be dumb or mute. And, because he could not speak, there was no way of establishing communication with this kind of a demon; no way of finding out this demon's name. So, within the framework of Judaism, it was impossible to cast out a dumb demon. The rabbis had taught, however, that when the Messiah came, He would be able to cast out this type of demon. This was the second of the three messianic miracles: the casting out of a dumb or mute demon. In verse 22, that is exactly the kind of demon Jesus casts out.

In verse 23 that raised the very question among the Jewish masses, which the miracle was intended to raise: And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David?

Was this not the Jewish Messiah? After all, He was doing the very things they had been taught from childhood that only the Messiah would be able to do. They never asked this question when Yeshua casts out other types of demons. However, when He casts out a dumb demon, they raised the question because they recognized from the teachings of the rabbis that this was a messianic miracle.

However, the Jewish masses have always tended to labor under what is called the "leadership complex." Whichever way the leaders went, the people were sure to follow. Consistently throughout the Old Testament, when the king did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, the people followed. But when the king did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, the people also followed. Even in this day, when Jewish believers witness to their Jewish contacts, they consistently hear this same objection: "If Jesus really is the Messiah, then why is it that our rabbis do not believe in Him?" In New Testament times, because of the stranglehold that Pharisaic Judaism had upon the masses, this leadership complex was extremely strong. So, while the Jewish masses were willing to raise the question, "Is this not the Jewish Messiah?" they were not willing to make that decision for themselves. Instead, they looked to their leadership to make that decision for them.

C. THE JEWISH RESPONSE

In light of the second messianic miracle, and in light of the questioning by the masses, the Jewish leaders realized they had to make a public declaration concerning their final decision about Yeshua's messianic claims. They had two options. First, declare Him to be the Messiah in light of all the evidence. Or, the second option was to reject His messianic claims. If they took the second option and rejected His messianic claims, they also had to explain to the Jewish masses why He was able to perform the very miracles they themselves had said only the Messiah would be able to do.

In Matthew 12:24 the Pharisees took the second option: But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This man does not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons.

The Pharisees took the second option and rejected His messianic claims. In order to explain His ability to perform these very unique miracles, they claimed that Yeshua Himself was possessed or demonized - not by some common demon but by Beelzebub the prince of demons. The name Beelzebub is a combination of two Hebrew words, which combine to mean "the lord of the flies." This became the basis of the Pharisaic rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus: He was not the Messiah on the grounds of being demon possessed. While their response to the first messianic miracle was the beginning of the investigation, their response to the second messianic miracle was the rejection of His messianic claims. They said He was not the Messiah on the grounds of being demon possessed. This action by the leadership of Israel set the stage for Jewish history for the next two thousand years.

D. THE JUDGMENT

Jesus responded in two ways. The first response was to defend Himself by saying four things in Matthew 12:25-29. He said this could not be true because it would mean a division in Satan's kingdom. Second, they themselves recognized that exorcism was a gift of the Spirit, and even their followers were able to cast out demons, though not dumb demons. Third, this miracle authenticated His claims and His message. Fourth, it showed that Yeshua was stronger than Satan rather than subservient to Satan.

The second response was a condemnation in Matthew 12:30-37. In this condemnation, Jesus said that this generation was guilty of the "unpardonable sin," the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Because this sin was exactly what He said it was - unpardonable - judgment was now set against that generation, a judgment that could under no circumstances be alleviated. It came forty years later, in A.D. 70, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Exactly what is the unpardonable sin within the context where it is found? It is not an individual sin but it is a national sin; it was committed by the Jewish generation of Jesus' day and cannot be applied to subsequent Jewish generations. The content of the unpardonable sin was: the national rejection by Israel of the Messiahship of Yeshua - while He was present - on the grounds of being demon possessed. Individuals of that day could, and did, escape that judgment, as was true with the Apostle Paul. Nor is it a sin that anyone can commit today. On this point, the Bible is very clear. Regardless of what sin anyone commits today, every sin is forgivable for that individual who will come to God through Jesus the Messiah. The nature of the sin is irrelevant. Every sin is forgivable for that individual who will come to God through Jesus the Messiah. But for the nation as a whole, for that particular generation, this unique sin was unpardonable.

In the remainder of this study, two key words will keep appearing "this generation," because this generation was guilty of a very unique sin. This meant two things. First, it meant that this generation of Yeshua's day was under judgment that could not be alleviated and would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70. Second, the offer of the Messianic Kingdom was rescinded; it would not be set up at that time but would be re-offered to a later Jewish generation - the generation of the Millennium.

In Matthew 12:38-45, the response of the Pharisees and the subsequent response of Jesus are found. In verse 38, the Pharisees had to retake the offensive: Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from you.

They came to Him and asked for yet another sign, as if Yeshua had done nothing so far to authenticate His Messiahship. He had performed all kinds of miracles since His ministry began, including the very miracles they themselves had labeled as messianic miracles. Yet they rejected His claims. Now He said that because of their rejection, because the sin they had committed was unpardonable, they would receive no more signs except one, the sign of Jonah the prophet, which was the sign of resurrection.

It is quite true that Jesus continued to perform miracles even after this event, but the purpose of His miracles changed. No longer was the purpose of His miracles what it had been up until that time: to serve as signs to get Israel to make a decision regarding His messianic claims. Instead, the purpose of His miracles from this point on was for the purpose of training the twelve apostles for the kind of work they would need to conduct because of this rejection. As for the nation, there would be no more signs except one: the sign of Jonah, the sign of resurrection.

Having announced His new policy concerning His signs, Jesus continued the words of judgment in Matthew 12:41-42, with emphasis upon this generation: The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Yeshua gave the example of two Gentile elements from the Old Testament: the men of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba. These were Gentiles who had a lot less light or revelation, but to the light they had, they responded. At the Great White Throne judgment, these Gentiles will be able to stand and condemn that particular Jewish generation for being guilty of the unpardonable sin.

The words of judgment end with a story about a demon in verses 43- 45. This was not a demon that was cast out but a demon that left of his own free will, looking for a better place in which to live. He searched for a while but when he could not find any vacancies, he decided to return to the person whom he had indwelt earlier. Upon his return, he found him "empty, swept, and garnished." He re-entered this man, but no longer wanting to live by himself, he invited seven of his friends to join him, and the last state of that man had become worse than the first. At first, he only had one demon in him, but because he remained empty, he now had eight demons residing in him. In the interval between the first and second indwellings of the demon, the man was not indwelled by some other spirit, be it the Holy Spirit or a demonic spirit.

What was true of that individual will be true of this generation. When that generation began, it was with the preaching of John the Baptist, who announced the soon-coming of the King. Although they were under Roman domination, they did have a national entity with Jerusalem and the Temple was standing. But forty years after these words were spoken, the legions of Rome invaded the Land, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple was torn down until not one stone stood upon another. The last state of this generation did become worse than the first.

The key point of the story is at the end of verse 45: Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation.

E. THE CHANGE IN THE MESSIAH'S MINISTRY

At this point, the ministry of Yeshua changed radically in four major areas. These four changes can only be understood in light of the commitment of the unpardonable sin in response to the rejection of the second messianic miracle.

1. Concerning the Purpose of His Miracles
The first change concerned the purpose of His miracles. As stated earlier, no longer would the purpose of His miracles be to serve as signs to Israel; to get Israel to make a decision concerning His messianic claims. That decision had been made. Instead, the purpose of His miracles from that point on was for the training of the twelve disciples for the kind of work they would perform because of this rejection; the kind of work they conducted in the Book of Acts. But for the nation, there would be no more signs except one: the sign of Jonah, the sign of the resurrection.

2. Concerning the Basis of His Miracles
The second change concerned the people for whom He performed the miracles. Until this event, whenever He performed miracles, He did so for the benefit of the masses without requiring them to first have faith. But from this point on, He only performed miracles for the benefit of individuals, in response to the needs of individuals. And He did demand that they first have faith. Until this event, whenever He healed a person, He told that person to go and proclaim what great things God had done for him. But from this point on, He told the healed individual to tell no one what God had done for him.

3. Concerning the Message of His Messiahship
The third change concerned the message that He and His disciples gave. Until this event, He and His disciples went all over the Land of Israel proclaiming His Messiahship, and He even sent out His disciples two-by- two to do exactly that. But from this point on, He would forbid His disciples to proclaim His Messiahship. When Peter made his great confession in Matthew 16:16, and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus instructed Peter to tell no one that He was the Messiah .

4. Concerning the Method of His Teaching
The fourth change concerned His method of teaching. Until this event, when He taught the masses, He taught them clearly and distinctly in terms they could and did understand. One example of this was the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Matthew points out that when Jesus was through with His sermon, not only did the people understand what He was saying, but also more significantly, they clearly understood where He differed with the Scribes and Pharisees. However, from this point on, whenever He taught the masses, He taught them only in parables. In Matthew 13:10-14 when He began His parabolic method of teaching, His disciples asked Him, Why speak you unto them in parables? Jesus answered that the parabolic method of teaching was for the purpose of hiding the truth from the masses.

Notice a very graphic statement in Matthew 13:34: All these things spoke Jesus in parables unto the multitudes; and without a parable spoke he nothing unto them: ...

To the masses, He spoke only in parables. This was not true before the rejection in Matthew 12. It is true only after the rejection. It is literally impossible to understand why the ministry of Yeshua changed in these four major areas unless we first understand how crucial the unpardonable sin was. The unpardonable sin was the rejection of His Messiahship on the grounds of demon possession, and it was a direct response to the second messianic miracle. Sufficient light had been given to them. They rejected the light they had, so no more light would be given.

F. ANOTHER DUMB DEMON

Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 9:37-43 record an incident dealing with the time when Yeshua and three of His disciples came down from the mount where He was transfigured. When they came back to where the other nine disciples had been left behind, they found a problem; a man brought his demon-possessed son to these disciples, but they were unable to cast out the demon. It is also interesting to note that the incident was instigated by Scribes and Pharisees.

According to Mark 9:14: And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great multitude about them, and scribes questioning with them.

The scribes were there to instigate this particular situation. A specific demonic boy was brought to these disciples, and they tried to cast out the demon but they were unable to do so. This somehow reflected on the Messiahship of Jesus. When He was confronted with the demoniac, He was able to cast out the demon. What was unique about this problem? The disciples had been able to cast out demons before. Why could not they cast out this demon?

Mark 9:17 reveals what kind of demon it was: And one of the multitude answered him, Teacher, I brought unto you my son, who has a dumb spirit; ...

This was a dumb demon, and the casting out of a dumb demon was the second messianic miracle. When the disciples could not cast out the dumb demon, it reflected on their claim that Yeshua was the Messiah. But then He came and did cast out the demon and performed that second messianic miracle again.

Then Mark 9:28-29 records why the disciples could not: And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, How is it that we could not cast it out? And he said unto them, This kind can come out by nothing, save by prayer.

Notice what Jesus said here, this kind, meaning a dumb demon. In this statement, He authenticated the Pharisaic observation that dumb demons were different and could not be cast out in a normal way. He told His disciples that the reason they could not cast out a dumb demon was because they were using the wrong method. While other demons could be commanded out in the name of Yeshua, in the case of a dumb demon, it could only be forced out by means of prayer. What His disciples should have done was not use the regular methodology that worked with other kinds of demons but simply trust God the Father to do it for them. So He authenticated the Pharisaic observation that dumb demons were different.

III. THE THIRD MESSIANIC MIRACLE:
THE HEALING OF A MAN BORN BLIND

A. INTRODUCTION

The third messianic miracle was the healing of anyone born blind. It was one thing to heal someone who simply had gone blind, but to heal someone born blind would be a messianic miracle. A lot of details on this third messianic miracle are given in John 9:1-41. This lengthy chapter can be divided into five specific segments.

B. THE PHYSICAL HEALING OF THE MAN BORN BLIND

The first segment, verses 1-12, records the physical healing itself. In John 9:1-5 we read: And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work. When I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

This incident occurred on a Sabbath day as they walked in the streets of Jerusalem and went by a man who had been born blind. Not only was it the time of the Sabbath, it was also the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, which makes this an especially holy or "high Sabbath."

The questions of the apostles appear to be very strange, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Who committed such a terrible sin that this man was born blind? The strangeness in the question is not whether this man's parents sinned causing him to be born blind. There is the principle of the Mosaic Law in Exodus 34:6-7 that God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children, and the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation. It is conceivable that the parents had committed a specific sin and God visited that sin upon their son, causing the son to be born blind. The defect of blindness at birth could have been a result of a specific sin committed by the parents.

Therefore, that is not the strange part of the question. But the question is not merely, Did this man's parents sin and he was born blind? but they also asked, Or was it this man that sinned and then he was born blind? That is the strange part of the question. How could he have sinned first and then have been born blind? Judaism never taught the doctrine of reincarnation. In light of this fact, how could he have sinned before he was born?

The question asked by the disciples actually reflected the Pharisaic Judaism in which they had been raised. According to Pharisaic Judaism, a birth defect, such as being born blind, was due to a specific sin, either committed by the parents or committed by the individual. But again, how could an individual have sinned first and then be born blind? According to Pharisaic Judaism, at the point of conception, the fetus has two inclinations. In Hebrew, they are called the yetzer hara, which means "the evil inclination," and the yetzer hatov, "the good inclination." These two inclinations are already present within the new human being who has just been conceived in the womb. During that nine-month development within the womb of the mother, there is a struggle going on for control between the two inclinations. It might just very well have occurred that, at one point, the evil inclination got the better of the fetus; and, in a state of animosity or anger towards his mother, he kicked his mother in the womb. For this act of sin, for this act of animosity, he was born blind. The disciples' question actually reflected the Pharisaic Judaism in which they had been raised. So they asked, "Did this man sin while he was still in the womb, or did his parents sin causing him to be born blind?"

The disciples are guilty of two fallacies. The first fallacy was to accept the Pharisaic teaching that the child could have sinned in his mother's womb and, therefore, be born blind. The second fallacy is that a birth defect, such as being born blind, must be due to some specific, terrible sin.

In verse 3, Jesus dispelled that Pharisaism very quickly:... Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

In other words, he was born blind not because of any specific sin committed by his parents or by himself.

Of course, all physical problems are due to Adam's fall and are a result of the general problem of sin and fallen humanity. Men die because of the general sin of humanity, because they are descendants of Adam. However, to say that a specific birth defect, sickness, illness, or injury is always due to some particular sin or a particular demon is a fallacious teaching. Yeshua clearly dispelled this teaching by saying that this man did not sin, nor did his parents sin. Quite the contrary, God so arranged for this man to be born blind so that God could gain the greater glory by accomplishing a great work.

Having dispelled and corrected the false theology of His own disciples on this point, He then proceeded with the healing. He chose to heal the person in such a way that it was somewhat of a process so, at this moment, the man never got to see Him. What Jesus did was to spit on the ground, mixing the spit with the dirt; He made a substance of clay and then smeared the clay on the man's eyes. He told the man to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash the clay from his eyes, and then he would be able to see.

It is very significant that of all the places Yeshua could have sent the man to wash his eyes, He sent him to only one pool of the many in Jerusalem - the Pool of Siloam. This pool was not easy to get to from the main part of Jerusalem because he had to walk down a steep hill. This was the week of the Feast of Tabernacles and during this feast, there was a special ritual called "the outpouring of water." In this ritual, the priests came down from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam, filled jugs with the water from the Pool of Siloam, marched back up the Temple Mount, and poured out the water into the Laver within the Temple Compound. This was followed by great rejoicing. During the Feast of Tabernacles, the main pool, which was the center of Jewish attention, was the Pool of Siloam, the one pool that had the greatest number of Jewish people present who would observe this third messianic miracle.

The man went to the Pool of Siloam, washed his eyes, and when he opened his eyes, for the first time in his entire life, he was able to see! Since everyone knew this man and knew he was born blind, this created a tremendous stir. John 9:8-9 records: The neighbors therefore, and they that saw him aforetime, that he was a beggar, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Others said, It is he: others said, No, but he is like him. He said, I am he.

There was much confusion because many people recognized him to be that same one, but others had a hard time believing that a man who was born blind had been healed. They responded by saying, "No, he just looks like him." Finally, the man said, I am he. When they finally asked the crucial question, "How are you now able to see?" After all, this is a messianic miracle.

His response, in verse 11 was: He answered, The man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to Siloam, and wash: so I went away and washed, and I received sight.

When they asked him, "Where is he? He said: I know not." Remember, when Yeshua sent him away to the Pool of Siloam, the man was still in a state of blindness; he had never seen Jesus. Even now when he was able to see, the man still did not know who Yeshua was or what He looked like.

C. THE FIRST INTERROGATION OF THE MAN

In the second part, John 9:13-17, the man is interrogated for the first time. Because this was a messianic miracle, the man was taken to the Pharisees for investigation and explanation. Because Jesus chose to heal the man on a Sabbath day, a stir was created on the part of the masses. The Pharisees knew very well that they must somehow act on this issue. As the Pharisees began to interrogate the man to discover the circumstances of his being healed of the blindness with which he was born, a division developed among them.

According to verse 16a: Some therefore of the Pharisees said, This man is not from God, because he keeps not the sabbath.

Because they felt that healing on the Sabbath was a violation of the Sabbath, they did not believe that Jesus could be a man of God, let alone the Man of God, the Messiah Himself.

Even among the Pharisees, they were asking the question in verse 16b: But others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such signs?

Notice the emphasis, not just upon signs, because false prophets could also perform miracles, but upon such these particular signs, these special messianic miracles.

When they asked the man who was born blind and now healed of his blindness what his opinion was about Yeshua, the man simply concluded that at least the man must have been a prophet (v. 17). However, according to Pharisaic teaching, though a prophet might be able to do miracles, like Elijah and Elisha certainly did, to do a messianic miracle was not the prerogative of a prophet, but rather the prerogative of the Messiah alone.

So the first interrogation of the man did not lead to any specific conclusions.

D. THE INTERROGATION OF THE PARENTS

In the third segment of this passage, John 9:18-22, the parents are interrogated. Among the Pharisees, the question was raised, "Suppose the whole thing is not true to begin with. Just suppose the man never was born blind and the whole thing is a trick." The parents confirm two things. First that this man was definitely their son and there was no doubt about his being their son. The second thing they affirmed was that he was born blind. So there was no longer any possibility that there was any type of fakery going on or that someone was trying to play a trick on the Pharisees. When the Pharisees asked the parents during the interrogation if their son was really born blind, how was he now able to see, the parents decided to say nothing more and to let their son speak for himself.

The reason for their reluctance is given in verse 22: These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

It had already been decreed that if anyone owned Jesus as Messiah, he would be excommunicated from the synagogue. It is obvious that the parents wanted to believe in Him, and perhaps at this point they had become secret believers in His Messiahship, because they saw that He not only performed a messianic miracle but also performed that miracle on their own son.

In Pharisaic Judaism, there were three specific levels of excommunication. The first level is called the hezipah, which is simply a "rebuke" that lasted anywhere from seven to thirty days and was merely disciplinary. It could not be taken unless pronounced by three rabbis. That was the lowest level of excommunication. An example of the hezipah is found in I Timothy 5:1. The second level is called the niddui, which means, "to cast out." It would last a minimum of thirty days and was disciplinary. A niddui had to be pronounced by ten rabbis. Examples of the second type are found in II Thessalonians 3:14-15 and Titus 3:10. The third and worst type of excommunication is called the cherem, which means to be "un-synagogued," to "be put out of the synagogue and to be separated from the Jewish community." The rest of the Jews considered someone under the cherem curse to be dead, and no communication or any kind of relationship whatsoever could be carried on with the person. This third type is found in I Corinthians 5:1-7 and Matthew 18:15-20.

The fact that the expression, "be put out of the synagogue" is used, tells us which level of excommunication the Pharisees had chosen for one who would own Yeshua as Messiah. It was the third and most severe level, the cherem - to be un-synagogued, to be put out, to be considered as dead. Therefore, the Pharisees were now threatening a Jewish believer - not merely with a rebuke or merely with being cast out temporarily - but to be put out permanently. Because the parents knew what the Pharisees had decreed concerning the issue of Jesus was the third level of excommunication, they chose not to make any further comments, except to affirm those two things: that he was their son, and that he was born blind.

Therefore, the interrogation of the parents, as the first interrogation of the man, also ends inconclusively.

E. THE SECOND INTERROGATION OF THE MAN

The fourth segment of this chapter, John 9:23-34, records the second interrogation of the man born blind. During this interrogation, the Pharisees began to lose their sense of logic.

They called him in for the second time in verse 24 and said to him: Give glory to God: we know that this man is a sinner.

Notice how illogical this statement is. "Praise the Lord!" they say, "because we know that this man, Yeshua, is a sinner."

But one never goes around saying, "Praise the Lord! we know such-and-such is a sinner." This is not something to praise God for. It is a sad thing when people commit specific acts of sin. But the Pharisees are so beside themselves over Jesus that they are no longer able to think clearly or think in a logical manner.

At this point, the man that had been healed was able to keep somewhat calm and still able to exercise some degree of control. He said to them in verse 25: Whether he is a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

The statement the man made was not just a statement of fact; it was a challenge to the Pharisees, one that they had to answer. What he was saying to them between the lines was, "I was a man who was born blind, not simply a man who went blind. You are the ones who taught me that only the Messiah would be able to heal someone that was born blind. I was born blind. A man named Yeshua was able to heal me. According to the theology, you taught me, I would think you would want to proclaim Him to be Israel's Messiah. Instead, you call him a sinner. "Whether or not He is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know: whereas I was blind, now I see. Please explain this to me."

In verses 26-27, the Pharisees took up the challenge and asked the question, What did he to you? how opened he thine eyes? (v. 26). The man had already explained to the Pharisees more than once, so, in verse 27, he responded to the Pharisees, I told you even now, "I already told you!" and ye did not hear; "you did not listen," wherefore would ye hear it again? would ye also become his disciples?

Of course, this was not a very smart thing to say to Pharisees, "Would you also like to become the disciples of Jesus?" That was the last thing they were interested in. At this point, the man was no longer being tactful.

They replied in like manner in John 9:28-29: And they reviled him, and said, You are his disciple; but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken unto Moses: but as for this man, we know not whence he is.

The Pharisees began to revile the man. They poked fun at him. They obviously saw that the man was not going to be persuaded to accept their statement that Jesus was a sinner. They gave up the man to Yeshua and said, "Well, you can go ahead and be his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know God spoke to Moses, but we don't know where this man is coming from whatsoever." The implication was that God did not speak to Jesus, so to be a disciple of Moses was superior to being a disciple of Yeshua.

But the man would not keep silent. In verse 30, he went on to answer them: Why, herein is the marvel, that ye know not whence he is, and yet he opened mine eyes.

"You are the religious leadership of Israel. You taught me that only the Messiah would ever be able to make me see. Now I do see, and you cannot explain it to me, you who are the religious leaders of the people of Israel."

He went on to remind them of their own theology in verses 31-32: We know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he hears. Since the world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind.

There are records of the healings of people who went blind, but not one record of someone who was born blind and had been healed. This was a messianic miracle, and for the first time in all of human history, this messianic miracle was performed. The man simply said to the Pharisees that they had no basis or grounds for rejecting the Messiahship of Jesus.

The Pharisaic response is in verse 34: They answered and said unto him, You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us?

"You were born in sin." Why did they say this? Because of the Pharisaic theology that anyone who was born blind was born that way because of some specific sin, either committed by the individual while in the womb of the mother, or by his parents. So they said, "You were born in sin. We were not, because we were not born blind."

Then verse 34 says: And they cast him out.

The "casting out" in this verse is the same as the "casting out" in verse 22, which means, "to be put out of the synagogue." The man was excommunicated.

F. THE SPIRITUAL HEALING

The fifth and last segment of this chapter, John 9:35-41, records his spiritual healing. Yeshua heard what had happened, that the man had been cast out of the synagogue. In verse 35, Yeshua approached the man and asked him: Do you believe on the Son of God?

In verse 36, the man answered: And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? Remember the man had not yet seen Jesus.

His response is in verses 37-38: Jesus said unto him, You have both seen him, and he it is that speaks with you. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

The man saw Yeshua and he worshipped Him. To worship a man was to acknowledge that the man was also God. The formerly blind man, then, had a spiritual healing.

Summary: The result of the first messianic miracle was that the intensive investigation of Yeshua's Messiahship began. The result of the second messianic miracle was the decree that Jesus was not the Messiah on the basis of demon possession. The leadership's response to the third messianic miracle was that anyone who owned Jesus as their Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.

IV. THE FINAL MESSIANIC WITNESS

Yeshua performed one more messianic miracle at a unique point of time that sent a clear message to the leadership of Israel. As a result of the rejection of His messianic claims after the second messianic miracle, Jesus pronounced a judgment upon that generation of Israel for being guilty of the unpardonable sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Then He said something else. He also said that because of this rejection, there would be no more signs for the nation except one, the sign of Jonah, which is the sign of resurrection. In John 11:1-44, that sign was given with the resurrection of Lazarus. Yeshua raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been dead four days.

The fact that Lazarus was dead four days is very significant. According to the teachings of Pharisaic Judaism, when a man died, the spirit of the man hovered over the body during the first three days. During those three days, there was always a possibility that resuscitation could bring him back. On the fourth day the spirit of the man descended down to Sheol or Hades and from then on resuscitation was impossible, only a miracle of resurrection could accomplish this. The fact that Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead for four days showed that they would never be able to explain away the resurrection of Lazarus by claiming mere resuscitation. Thus, when Yeshua raised Lazarus from the dead after four days, this again created a stir.

In John 11:45-54, the Sanhedrin met and deliberated. During the deliberations, they merely carried out one step further the rejection that had already occurred. As a result of the second messianic miracle, they rejected His messianic claims. Now their response to the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus was sentencing Jesus to death. It was Caiaphas, the high priest, who led the Sanhedrin to the rejection of Yeshua by sentencing Him to death.

What happened next is recorded in Luke 17:11-19. This time, not one but ten lepers came to Jesus asking Him to heal them. The way He responded is recorded in verse 14: And when He saw them, he said unto them, Go and show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were cleansed.

Yeshua sent these ten lepers directly to the very priesthood that, under the leadership of Caiaphas, had just decreed a sentence of death against Him. This meant that instead of one messianic miracle, there were now ten messianic miracles performed: the first messianic
miracle was performed ten times over. Ten times over Caiaphas and the priesthood had to spend seven days investigating the whole situation. Ten times over, they had to decree that all ten of these lepers had been cleansed and healed of their leprosy. Ten times over, they had to decree that Jesus had performed the miracle. It is really showing some Jewish humor, if you will, on the part of Yeshua that He chose to send to the leadership of Israel ten healed lepers right after they decreed His rejection by sentencing Him to death.

His Messiahship was proclaimed, not merely by the mouth of two or three witnesses, but by the mouth of ten witnesses. Again, He proved to the leadership that they had no basis, no ground, for the rejection of His messianic claims.

*

RECOMMENDED READING

If you enjoyed this Bible study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum recommends the following messianic Bible studies (mbs):

mbs 009: The Trial of the Messiah
mbs 016: Nicodemus, A Rabbi's Quest
mbs 020: How Did the Wise Men Know? or Is Astrology Valid?
mbs 028: The Olivet Discourse
mbs 031: Highlights of the Birth and Early Life of Jesus
mb6 032: The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
mbs 036: The Three Sabbath Controversies Between Jesus and the Pharisees
mbs 040: The Parables of the Kingdom
mbs 043: The Confession of Peter
mbs 044: The Transfiguration of Jesus
mbs 048: Mammon of Unrighteousness
mbs 049: The Adulterous Woman
mbs 056: The Triumphal Entry
mbs 060: The Upper Room Discourses
mbs 061: The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus
mbs 069: The Agony of Gethsemane
mbs 070: The Death and Burial of the Messiah
mbs 075: The Resurrection of the Messiah
mbs 076: The Ascension of the Messiah
mbs 094: The Sermon on the Mount
mbs 099: The Results of the Death of Messiah
mbs 127: The Birth and Early Life of the Messiah
mbs 134: How the New Testament Quotes the Old Testament
mbs 183: The Healing of the Man at the Pool of Bethesda: John 5
mbs 185: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: John 4:1-42

Many of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's studies are available for free online reading and
listening at Ariel Ministries' Come and See. All of his materials are
available for purchase at Ariel Ministries in various formats.
Other select materials and resources are
available at Ariel, as well.

Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Th.M, Ph.D,
is founder and director of Ariel Ministries.


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