Some time prior to the coming of Yeshua, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Bonus: Comparision between Elijah & Jesus:
1) Both Elijah and Christ raised the dead:
1 Kings 17:22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
John 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where .Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2) Both Elijah, who never dies, and Christ were immortal:
2 Kings 2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal
John 20:25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
3) Both Elijah and Christ. ascended into Heaven before witnesses:
2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talkd, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. .
12..And Elisha saw it,.
Luke 24:51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven
4) Both Elijah and Christ troubled Israel:
1 Kings 18:17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born..
5) Both Elijah and Christ were threatened by the authorities with death:
1 Kings 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of I.srael have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and .I. .even I only .am .left..; and they seek my life, to take it away
John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death
6) Both Elijah and Christ…. were hunted by the Jewish authorities:
1 Kings 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away
John 7:25 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?
7) Both Elijah and Christ…. hid in a cave/tomb:
1 Kings 19:9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth…
8) Both Elijah and Christ pondered in the wilderness 40 days and forty nights:….
1 Kings 19:8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God
Matthew 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
9) Both Elijah and Christ. walked on across the water
2 Kings 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground
Matthew 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea
10) Both Elijah and Christ let a person follow them across the water:
2 Kings 2:14.. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over
Matthew 14:29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
11) Both Elijah and Christ…. wrote only one thing, a letter, to people on Earth AFTER they had ascended:
2 Chronicles 21:12 And there came a writing to him from ..Elijah.. the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah,
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
12) Both Elijah and Christ appointed a successor, Elisha, by Elijah, and Peter, by Christ:
2 Kings 2:9.. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And ..Elisha.. said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me
Matthew 16:18.. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this .rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
13) Both Elijah and Christ gave a successor the power to raise the dead:
2 Kings 8:5.. And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom ..Elisha.. restored to life.
Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and ..prayed..; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up
14) Both Elijah and Christ gave a successor the power to heal:
2 Kings 5:10.. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean
Acts 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk
15) Both Elijah and Christ gave a successor a symbolic authority, the cloak to one, the keys to the other:
1 Kings 19:19.. So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
Matthew 16:19.. And I will give unto thee the keys.of the kingdom.. of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven
16) Both Elijah and Christ. asked that the this “cup” be taken from them:
1Kings 19:4 .But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die (because he was afraid of what was coming from Jezebel: [1Kings 19:3]), and said, “It is enough (they seek my life, to take it away: [1Kings 19:10]); now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
Matthew 26:39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, (because he began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed: [Matt 26:37]), let this cup pass from me (It is enough: [1Kings 19:4]): nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
17) Both Elijah and Christ are said to have had miraculous births:
Three different theories regarding Elijah’s origin are presented in the Haggadah: Mention must be made of a statement which, though found only in the later cabalistic literature (Yal?u? Reubeni, Bereshit, 9a, ed. Amsterdam), seems nevertheless to be very old (see Epiphanius, l.c.), and according to which Elijah was an angel in human form, so that he had neither parents nor offspring.
See also Melchizedek.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
18) Both Elijah and Christ destroyed pagan worshippers and priests. Elijah destroyed the priests of Baal; Christ, the Pantheon of Rome, 380AD:
IKi 18:40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
History: Universal Christianity in 380AD:
Revelation 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.
They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years (54AD -1054AD)
19) Both Elijah and Christ were promised faithfulness three times, Elisha in the former and Peter, in the latter.
2 Kings 2:2.. I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel
2 Kings 2:4.. I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho
2 Kings 2:6.. I will not leave thee. And they two went on
John 21:17.. He saith unto him the third time,… “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, “Lovest thou me?”
20) Both Elijah and Christ. condemned a Jezebel:
2 Kings 9:36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:
Rev 2:20 ..Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds..
21) Both Elijah and Christ re-dedicated the Israelite people to God by raising up a new altar or temple:
1 Ki 18:30.. And ..Elijah.. said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
22) Both Elijah and Christ chose one man upon which to build his following:
2 Kings 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and ..upon.. this ..rock.. I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
23) Both Elijah and Christ were subject of a three day ‘search’ for their presence:
2 Kings 2:1 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send.
They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.
Luke 2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions