“Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Luke 7:22)
The miracles that Jesus and his disciples performed before the people testified to the great authority that Jesus held; authority over the powers of nature, authority over diseases, authority over demons, authority over creation and even authority over death. But yet, this didn’t convince the rabbis who declared that they’d rather die than let someone heal them in the name of Jesus.
An example of this can be found in tractate Avoda Zara 17a, there a conversation is described in which Rabbi Eliezer told Rabbi Akiva about a disciple of Jesus, a Messianic Jew by the name of Jacob who was healing people in the name of Jesus. Then, in 27b, we are told about the nephew of Rabbi Ishmael, who was bitten by a snake. That same Messianic disciple, Jacob, offered to pray for him, but the rabbi, even though he knew that the disciples of Jesus could heal in His name, strongly refused, preferring that his nephew would die.
To our great regret, the situation today is not much different. The rabbis see Jesus as a false Messiah. Rabbi Joseph Mizrachi for example, agrees that Jesus performed miracles but claims that they are no indication that he is the Messiah. It’s interesting that neither modern Sages nor rabbis are trying to deny the miracles performed by Jesus, but instead they are trying to question the authority by which He performed them, and so deny that He is the Messiah. According to the Talmud, the source of power and the authority by which Jesus performed miracles was from Satan. Rabbi Daniel Asor claims: “Jesus was indeed a false prophet as he acted only by using powers of sorcery.” He also claims that Jesus “was himself the embodiment of Satanism.”
Claims like those of Rabbi Asor are based on a myth of the Sages that Jesus learned the arts of sorcery in Egypt. The problem with this claim is that it has the same amount of evidence and historical reliability as the myth that Santa Claus distributes gifts through chimneys at Christmas. It has no literary or historical support outside the pages of the Talmud. Its reliability is further weakened by the fact that it was written hundreds of years after the time of Jesus, and was an attempt to explain away Jesus’ ability to perform miracles and wonders. It is similar to suddenly coming up with the claim that Van Gogh’s masterpieces were painted by the powers of a demon that possessed him. Another problem with this claim is the lack of chronological reliability in the way the Talmud relates to Jesus, saying that he was the student of Rabbi Yehoshua Ben-Perachiah. But Yehoshua Ben-Perachiah lived hundreds of years before Jesus was even born.
We would like to respond to the rabbis’ claims with a few points:
The first point is ‘The Four Miracles of the Messiah’.
According to Judaism, there are four miracles that only the Messiah can perform:
1) To heal a leper
2) To heal someone who is blind from birth
3) To cast out a mute demon
4) To raise from the death a person who was considered dead for at least four days
We can find support for this also in tractate Nedarim in the Babylonian Talmud, as well as in the Qumran Scrolls (4Q521) which were written well before the time of Jesus. The Jewish Essenes who wrote the scrolls related these four miracles to the Messiah. And indeed, in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah foretold in chapter 35 that the Messiah would be able to open the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf, and that he would cause the mute to speak. Since the completion of the Pentateuch and until the time of Jesus, there has not been one historical document or a single shred of evidence of a Jew that was ever healed of leprosy. Miriam the prophetess was healed before the completion of the Pentateuch, and Naaman wasn’t a Jew. This of course was because God kept the right to heal a Jew from leprosy for the Messiah alone. If Jesus wanted to heal lepers using a satanic spell, he would not have been able to – God would not allow an imposter to do something that is kept solely for the Messiah.
The second point is that Jesus performed his miracles in the name of the God of Israel.
Jesus didn’t claim to heal in the name of Satan, on the contrary, he claimed to heal in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, the Pharisees still accused him of being a sorcerer who was using the power of Satan. “Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’” Jesus answered wisely, “But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?’” (Matt. 12:24-26)
The last point concerns the consequences Jesus’ miracles.
If Jesus attempted to cast spells in the name of Satan or to incite to idolatry, than he did a terrible job because he only brought people closer to God. The miracles that Jesus performed in the name of the God of the Jews caused the Jews, but also thousands of Gentiles, to leave their idols and to believe in the God of Israel. If Jesus was a sorcerer who came to turn people away from the God of Israel, then his plot completely failed. Jesus performed miracles because He was the Messiah, and even today people all over the world are healed in a supernatural way in the name of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.
See the words of Daniel Zion, who was the chief Rabbi in Bulgaria, and came to faith in Jesus the Messiah: “If you Rabbis would pray to God with your whole heart and read the New Testament thoughtfully, approaching this book and the Messiah Jesus with reverence, I am convinced that God would open your eyes. Jesus did nothing but good, He called Israel to repentance and to the Kingdom of God. He did many signs and wonders, as no prophet before Him. He wished to unite people; that they should love each other and also their enemies. Thus He wished to build a bridge between Israel and the nations; and by doing so, to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah that the Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be King over all the earth.”