We’ve all seen the charlatans, from snake oil salesmen to traveling “preachers” pulling actors out of wheelchairs. They pepper history with shameless fraud, preying on the frail and the weak– those with no hope.
When Jesus walked the earth, he performed miracles. He calmed the seas, cast out demons, and fed multitudes. An impostor performs to be rewarded; Christ healed to demonstrate love.
Physical healing is extremely personal. That is to say, the true impact of healing is only felt by one person– the one who is healed. The exception is those who are forced to watch someone they love suffer or die. Then the healing is parallel, as the physical pain is healed for one and the emotional pain or grief is turned to joy in the other. Therefore both are healed of their suffering.
I know the searing pain of grief. The depth of that sorrow is directly proportionate to the love held. Grief is the bloody hand that rips love from the lining of your soul and turns it inside out. I can only begin to imagine the depth of joy the parents of the dead girl must have felt, after watching their precious child suffer and die, when Jesus told them she was not dead — just asleep.
How could you keep that a secret? How could you not tell someone? If this is true, how is it not proof that He was sent from God?
As I continue to read Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus, I’m struck at how the author acknowledges Jesus’ miracles as truth.
Page by page, Boteach lines up the accounts of Jesus’ miracles with those of Old Testament prophets. He states that the miracles Jesus performed as a healer “are also very much in keeping with the rabbinical tradition of the Second Temple era.” Apparently the Talmud holds many accounts of healing and exorcisms by respected rabbis.
The author goes on to say that such stories about Jesus would have seemed “conspicuously familiar.” He writes that in the Hebrew Bible Elijah, “one of the greatest prophets in Jewish history,” raised people from the dead.
While the author does not state specifically that he believes the accounts of Jesus’ miracles are true, he does claim that
a) Jesus must have been a learned pharisaical scholar.
b) His miracles can easily fit into the light of Jewish tradition.
The author is crediting Jesus as one that shows all the signs God gives to those he sends. In reading this chapter, my thoughts keep returning to a quote by C. S. Lewis:
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
It occurred to me that a parallel holds true between the importance of the miracle of healing and the miracle of Christianity.
One such as Boteach can accept the account of Jesus, as a faithful Jewish son. But the real importance of Christ is the personal impact, a healing if you will, which to the individual experiencing it is of infinite importance.
The paradox remains. In his attempt to paint Jesus as simply very Jewish, he confirms the truth of Lewis’ point and exposes the essence of both Christianity and Judaism.