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LUKE: GOSPEL OF CERTIFYING THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
Part XXIV: Inadvertently Certifying The VALIDITY Of Christ's Old Testament Prophetic Roots
Lesson: Jesus' identity as Israel's Messiah is not a later invention. His pedigree was so steeped in the Old Testament that even WE can pick it up via Luke's Gospel where Luke was not trying to reveal it!
- Critics of our Christian faith have claimed that our faith was invented by overly zealous Greeks or Paul, that even Jesus would not have considered Himself the predicted Old Testament Messiah.
- However, Luke's Gospel records an unintentional and hence powerful witness to Jesus' Old Testament connection in strong confirmation of our Christian faith. That text is Luke 7:11-17 as follows:
- Inadvertently Certifying The VALIDITY Of Christ's Old Testament Prophetic Roots, Luke 7:11-17.
- Luke wrote his Gospel for a Gentile, Theophilus, to certify the claims of our Christian faith, Luke 1:4.
- As such, Luke would not have gone out of his way to dwell on Jesus' Old Testament connections.
- Yet, Luke's witness in Luke 7:11-17 of Jesus' raising a widow's son in Nain unintentionally and hence powerfully witnesses to Jesus' connection to the Old Testament prophets, certifying His Messianic identity:
- Jesus entered a city called Nain where He proceeded to raise a widow's son from the dead, Lk. 7:11-15.
- Luke reports that in response to this miracle, many felt that a great prophet from God had risen, 7:16f.
- Well, in saying nothing more specific in the context about Old Testament heritage, Luke was clearly trying to report only the widespread support for Jesus to Theophilus. However, we note that this rumor was unusually supportive of Jesus in light of His being formerly rejected in nearby Nazareth, 4:23-29.
- Well, in seeking to discern why there was this unusually positive response to Jesus due to the miracle at Nain, we find an abundant certification of His Old Testament Messianic credentials as follows:
- From the Macmillan Bible Atlas, #230, we note that Nain is on the northwestern slope of Mt. Tabor.
- According to the same map, just to the south of that same Galilean mountain lies the city of Shunem where Elisha raised the Old Testament Shunamite woman's son to life, cf. 2 Kings 4:8-17, 18-37.
- Well, Elisha's raising of this boy was to be Biblically compared by Jews to the raising of a child by Elijah: (a) Elisha had asked for a double portion of God's Spirit as compared to Elijah, 2 Kings 2:9-10. (b) Since he gained that double portion (2 Kings 2:10-12), all of the miracles that Elijah did are repeated by Elisha, but with a greater display of power than was exhibited by Elijah. (c) This is Biblically illustrated in the raising of children to life by both men: Elijah prostrated himself on the body of the deceased three times to raise the child, 1 Kings 17:21-22. When Elisha raised a child, he prostrated himself on the body only two times to effect his resurrection, 2 Kings 4:34-37. (d) Also, as Elijah's raising the child caused his mother to believe Elijah was a man of God, and that his words were from God, Elisha's miracle similarly confirmed his prophetic credentials, 1 K. 17:24!
- Well, putting all of these facts together, we can understand the Luke 7 widespread positive response to Jesus' raising the widow's son at Nain: (a) The location of Nain in conjunction to Elisha's Shunem on the other side of the same mountain together with the raising of deceased sons at both locations signaled to Jewish people that Jesus was another one of Israel's Elisha-type prophets. (b) Now as both Old Testament Elisha and Elijah were Scripturally compared in their power expressions, and Elisha demonstrated a double portion of Elisha's power in his miracles, the people naturally compared Jesus to Elijah and Elisha, discovering that He had a much greater power than these former prophets: He did not prostrate Himself on the dead body two or three times, but only touched the coffin once and spoke to raise the boy, 7:14-15. (c) As Elijah and thus Elisha had their persons and words confirmed by their miracles, the witnesses at Nain concluded that Jesus' person and words were to be very much more believed than even that of Elijah's and Elisha's! (d) Thus, the Jewish people of that region who knew well of Old Testament Elijah and Elisha understandably concluded that Jesus was the ultimate prophet in the same Old Testament, Elijah-Elisha tradition!
- Also, at Jesus' Nazareth rejection, noting from His sermon there how He affiliated himself with both Elijah and Elisha (Luke 4:23, 24-26, 27), Jesus considered Himself part of their prophetic roots!
Application: The unintentional witness of events in Christ's life exposes Him as the predicted Messiah!