When asked outright if He was “the Coming One” (Luke 7:20), Jesus gave a better answer than a simple “yes”, or “no”. Instead, He listed the kind of things He was doing for people – blind people were receiving their sight back, lame people were walking, leprous people were being cleansed, deaf people were hearing, dead people were being raised back to life (Luke 7:21-22).
His list was significant for two reasons. Firstly, because it mirrored the words of the Jewish prophet, Isaiah, who about 700 years earlier looked forward to a time when God would come to visit His people – and do exactly the kind of things Jesus was right then performing (Isaiah 35:4-6). He was effectively saying to His inquirers – don’t take my word on whether I am your Messiah or not, look at what I am doing and ask yourself – does it correspond with what your prophets told you to expect? The conclusion He intended them to draw is obvious. He was pointing them to the word of God to confirm His identity.
Secondly, the list of actions that Jesus drew attention to were not ordinary works. They were genuinely miraculous – far beyond the reach of mere mortals. The reason His miracles are important is that they provided those who saw them self-evident confirmation that He was from God, and therefore worthy of their faith: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; “but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father [is] in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:37-38)
Because of the uncanny link between what the Jewish scriptures announced their Christ would do, and what Jesus actually did – some people attempt to sidestep the implications by claiming a conspiracy theory. They suggest that the Jewish scriptures were constructed after the event to give credibility to Christianity. To a Jew, the idea that the scriptures they had guarded for well over 1000 years by the time of Jesus’ life, and that contain a record of their national history – the idea that they were fabricated during the life of Jesus would not simply be ludicrous, it would be offensive at the deepest possible level. It would be to tamper with their entire national identity. But the fact is, the complete Jewish scriptures had been available in a Greek translation called the Septuagint for over a century before the birth of Jesus Christ. Even the most hard-nosed conspiracy theorist is therefore looking down the barrel of more than a century between the completion of the translation of the Jewish scriptures into Greek, and the life of Jesus. This doesn’t help them much however, because to look ahead with pinpoint accuracy over a century instead of a millennium is still impossible for humans. And that brings us back to the point of the Bible’s prophecies: their precise fulfilment self authenticates the Bible as a book from God: “when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD has not spoken…(Deuteronomy 18:22).