Most people–whether followers of Jesus or not–do have some thoughts about what He was like . . . what He did . . . what He gave Himself to in the days of His incarnation.
He’s seen as a prophet, a teacher, a leader, the Messiah, our Savior, our divine Friend, and more. But have you ever reflected on how Jesus thought about Himself? What did He emphasize when His words turned to speak about Himself and His ministry?
Jesus made a fascinating comment shortly before His death in Jerusalem that gives us a glimpse. Some Pharisees approached Jesus and commented about Herod’s intentions to kill Him (Luke 13:31). Jesus’ reply is startling:
“Go and all that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal” (13:32).
Now we could wrestle with what Jesus meant in referring to the days He mentioned. Was He referring to three literal days before He arrived in Jerusalem? What “third day” was He referring to? (Clearly not the coming resurrection day.) But that is, perhaps, not the most provocative thing He said.
In speaking of Himself and His work, Jesus emphasized casting our demons and healing people. He didn’t say, “Behold, I will continue to teach today and tomorrow . . . ” or “Behold, I will keep on proclaiming the message I have come to announce . . . .” He specifically mentioned the supernatural “stuff” He had been doing.
This seems to fit with how He identified Himself when He presented Himself to the people He grew up with in Nazareth. We find that account in Luke 4:14–21. When Jesus “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” He came to His hometown, entered the synagogue on a particular Sabbath and explained Himself to those who knew Him well (having grown up with Him). Quoting from Isaiah 61, Jesus declared that He was a Spirit-anointed individual whose call was to preach “good news” and do supernatural stuff.
Are we misreading Jesus if we pick up on how He emphasized the supernatural nature of His ministry? If we see Him identifying Himself as one who does these things? I’d suggest Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, would tell us we were right in seeing this emphasis!
When Peter was explaining the “good news” to the household of Cornelius, this is what he said about Jesus:
“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).
Seeing how Jesus speaks of Himself and His ministry raises questions for me. Do I think of Jesus as one who does miracles? Does my relationship with Him reflect His emphasis? Do I realize (as the early church did) that God still intends for the ministry of Jesus to be extended into the world through supernatural signs and wonders? (Acts 4:29–30)