In Luke 7:19 John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to Jesus to ask Jesus, “Are You the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we be looking for someone else?” So it sounds like there was an element of doubt in John’s mind that Jesus was truly the Messiah, which is jolly useful in case someone asks us for proof today that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Jesus’ answer was simple. He’d been “curing many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and he’d given sight to many who were blind too,” verse 21. So his reply to John’s two disciples in verses 22-23 was: “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: that the blind get their sight back, the crippled and lame are now walking freely again, lepers are cleansed, deaf people hear perfectly, dead people are raised back to life, the good news of salvation is being preached to those who are lost and needy, and people are being blessed in all sorts of ways when they aren’t offended by me.”
Just look at the obvious results of my ministry, Jesus is saying, because they speak for me – with the added hint, that “Isn’t this exactly what you expected from the Messiah as evidence it’s him?”
Well, no, it wasn’t, which is why John had sent his disciples to Jesus to find out if he was truly the Messiah, or not. They were expecting a conquering Messiah diving in with all guns blazing to drive out the Romans and restore Israel to its former glory, just like the good old days of David and Solomon. Jesus, however, was identifying the Messiah through a different sort of “conquering.” It was just as powerful but in a totally different way. Jesus wasn’t being the big hero, charging in with the cavalry to save the day, he was meeting people’s much greater needs. He was answering people’s personal needs, rather than deliverance from their enemies as a nation.
It was their first inkling of what the Messiah was truly all about. It hearkened back, though, to three chapters earlier at the Nazareth synagogue when Jesus had read from the Isaiah scroll that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,” Luke 4:18-19. And he ended the reading with, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” verse 21, referring to himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy. And for the next three and a half years Jesus proved he was the one Isaiah was talking about by doing all those miracles for people.
And these were the signs that God’s Kingdom really was “near at hand,” just as Jesus had stated back in Mark 1:15.
One could legitimately ask, then, “Where are those miracles being fulfilled today? If they are the signs that God’s Kingdom is here on the Earth already, then show me where the blind are getting their sight back, the crippled are walking freely, those with incurable diseases are being healed, the deaf can hear, and people imprisoned by all sort of addictions and phobias are being freed of them, just like they were in Jesus’ day. Everybody who asked Jesus for healing got it, but does that happen today? ”
One could also legitimately ask, though, “But did all those miracles Jesus performed actually accomplish much? He healed hundreds of people fromawful diseases and birth defects, but at the end of his ministry he only had a hundred and twenty dedicated followers. And most of them even doubted it when they were told he’d been resurrected from the dead, just as he’d predicted.” Miracles of the kind Jesus was performing back then, therefore, weren’t the the most convincing proof of the kingdom being “at hand” (John 14:24).
So what would be convincing proof, and especially for people today, who would likely find all kinds of excuses for dismissing miracles as real?
Well, Jesus lifts things up a a notch with little hints like John 14:27, when he said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus was offering the miracle of never being anxious or afraid of anything, from simply trusting him to provide it (verse 14).
He also promised joy and love to those who trusted him. People would love their enemies and know joy in suffering, including when people hated and persecuted them. These were much greater miracles of mind and heart. And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to provide them in full to us too (Colossians 2:9-10). So all we have to say to people who want proof God’s Kingdom is here already, is along the same lines as what Jesus said to John’s disciples: “Just look at what you see and hear happening,” which in our case would be what they see and hear happening in us personally. What they see and hear are meant to be the most incredible miracles of all, the ones that we humans of ourselves are never able to make happen, like love, joy and peace in the most impossible circumstances.
They are also the miracles we need most personally to navigate through this world. Wouldn’t I just love to have no anxious thought and peace beyond understanding, for instance (Philippians 4:6-7)? Well, they’re ours for the asking and trusting. Because that’s what the Kingdom of God is all about. It’s all about a God who loves us, knows our needs exactly, and provides the power in our minds and hearts to meet those needs (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).