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On several occasions the High Jewish priests asked Jesus, that if He is the son of God, then demonstrate by doing X or Y.

I assume in all of these cases, he could have fulfilled the requests to show who He was - so why not just give them some proof?

Why did Jesus have to beat around the bush ?

Why not prove Himself for exponentially more followers?

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Jesus did give them proof, on numerous occasions. He healed the sick, turned water into wine, and raised the dead. He showed how his coming fulfilled prophecy. But they still didn't believe.

Consider the story of the blind man Jesus healed in John 9. When he was brought to the Pharisees, did they say, "Zounds, Jesus restored the sight of a blind man! He must be a great prophet if not God himself!" No, they didn't. They had the man right there, giving his eye-witness (no pun intended) testimony. And what was their response? They had his parents brought in and questioned if he had really been blind. When they said he was, they demanded that the man explain how Jesus did it. Of course he didn't know. They pressed and pressed, and when he wouldn't recant his story, they had him excommunicated.

So when they asked for yet another sign, Jesus told them no, he had already given them all the proof they needed. If Jesus had come to some meeting of the priests and performed a miracle right in front of them, I'm sure they would have claimed it was an illusion or a magic trick.

It's just like some of the demands people make today. Every now and then an atheist will say, "If there really is a God, let him strike me down with lightning right now." Why doesn't God respond by sending lighting? Because: suppose that an atheist said that, and at that very moment a bolt of lightning tore through the roof and knocked him to the ground. Would all the atheists say, "Wow, we were wrong. God did indeed prove his existence"? I really really doubt it. Much more likely they would say, "Wow, what an astounding coincidence! Just as Bob made that comment about God striking him with lightning, he actually was struck by lightning! You know it would be funny if it wasn't that poor Bob was so badly hurt ..." Right? Does anyone seriously think otherwise?

At some point you have to say, he's done all these miracles, he's given you the Bible, you can believe it or not. In Luke 16:31, Jesus says, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead." I used to wonder what Jesus meant by this. For of course, if someone really came back from the dead, everyone would have to believe. How could they not? Then stories of near-death experiences came out, people who claimed to have died during surgery or in accidents and then been revived, and who talked about seeing a "being of light" and a heavenly -- or sometimes hellish -- place. Did this end the controversy, and everyone who heard became Christians? No. They said these people were making up stories or hallucinating. Maybe some people became convinced that there is life after death from such testimony, but I suspect it's few. I'm a Christian, I believed in life after death before I heard these stories, and they don't particularly convince me of anything. I don't know what to make of them.

If someone doesn't want to believe, no amount of evidence will convince him. God's not going to waste his time giving a 127th proof to someone who wasn't convinced by the first 126.

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As you know, currently there are many people who claim they have extrasensory abilities and can heal, even more, there are people who would support their claims by saying that they were healed. (oh even frequently in advertising you can see people claiming they growed thin after eating these and these pills while in fact they were hires for the clip) –  Anixx Dec 7 '12 at 20:15
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I think Luke 4:12 explains it nicely:

Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

When the high priests asked Jesus to do X or Y, He had no interest in responding to their cheap tests. The Power of God should never be used in sideshows to perform "magic tricks".

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I am aware of this position but I believe not all of the requests would have fallen into the cheap magic tricks category. For example, on the cross they said if you are really the son of God save yourself and come down from the cross. I can only imagine if he did that just about everyone would have bowed down.... –  Greg McNulty Sep 24 '12 at 2:50
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@GregMcNulty: If He had come down from the cross, where would we be now? Unforgiven and uncleansed. He had to stay up there, and He knew it. –  El'endia Starman Sep 24 '12 at 3:08
    
@Jim G. or at least when he arose from the dead - show Himself at least to one of the priests or Roman leaders - chances are they would have spread His word to a much larger audience then the few disciples could? –  Greg McNulty Sep 24 '12 at 3:08
    
@El'endia Starman: ok that is a good point....but what about after he arose? –  Greg McNulty Sep 24 '12 at 3:09
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@GregMcNulty Within 100 years of Jesus death he was known throughout the Roman world, in Ethiopia and in Persia. It's not at all clear that having a few more of the priests on his side would have made a dramatic difference. Plenty of Romans became Christians within a generation or so. –  Jay Sep 24 '12 at 4:43
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In Luke, Jesus was asked for a sign - a miracle - to prove he was. Jesus responded by saying that he would, in fact give them a sign, just not the one they expected.

In 11:28 - 32, he says:

29 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.

In his foreknowledge, I would argue, he knew he was going to die and be resurrected. Like Jonah, he knew that he would spend "three nights in the belly of [the earth]." His resurrection would in fact be the proof that was demand. Later, in the story of Lazarus and Dives, the Rich Man, Dives - who had been sent to Hell, begs Abraham for the chance to at least warn his family not to join him. Jesus, through Abraham has an interesting reply:

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

In short, Jesus is saying:

  • a. even a person being dead and then not being dead won't convince them

    and

  • b. the Scriptures (aka "Moses and the Prophets") already contained sufficient proof, if only people would have listened.

Finally, it should be understood that it is terribly easy to blur the line between seeking proof and seeking some cheap entertainment. Perhaps no one susses this out of Scripture better than Andrew Lloyd Webber in Jesus Christ Superstar when he shows Herod to be a buffon demanding that Jesus perform a miracle. He says:

Prove to me that you're divine; change my water into wine. That's all you need do, then I'll know it's all true. Come on, King of the Jews.

Herod, of course, had no intention of believing that Jesus was Divine, nor would he have ever brooked a rival "King of the Jews." The coolest part of that song, of course, is that it is entirely scriptural. As Luke 23 says,

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.

Oh, and for the record - that was the context in which the High Priest you asked about demand proof, and Jesus remained silent.

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-1: Could you make this answer a little more concise? You cite Scripture repeatedly, but I don't think you really answer the question. Reminds me of most sermons I hear on Sunday! [gasp ;] –  Jim G. Sep 24 '12 at 1:16
    
@Affable Geek: I am interested to know what was it in the Scriptures already contained sufficient proof to Jesus? You mean the prophesying the birth at the North star? –  Greg McNulty Sep 24 '12 at 2:56
    
I'm totally and utterly confused. It's like drinking from a fire hose. Way too many long Scripture passages. Not enough meat on the bone. –  Jim G. Sep 24 '12 at 3:20
    
@GregMcNulty There's books to be written on John 5:39 (Jesus: "The Scriptures testify of me"). There's way more than just the star of Bethlehem (not the North Star!). You may want to raise the question, however. –  Affable Geek Sep 24 '12 at 11:51
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@AffableGeek could it be said that Jesus provided much proof via miracles, yet not to those who with political power? –  E1Suave Sep 24 '12 at 12:27
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Jesus Himself actually essentially says why He didn't give proof:

John 10:24-26 (NLT)
24 The people* surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.

*My NLT Bible has "Jewish leaders" instead of "people" at the beginning of the verse.

By this point, Jesus has even healed a man that was born blind, which no one else had ever done (John 9), yet the Pharisees didn't believe Him. Jesus goes on to say that "I and the Father are one." (verse 30), at which the people picked up stones to stone Him. Jesus points out that He did a lot of good acts and asks which one they're stoning Him for, at which they reply that they're stoning Him for claiming to be the Son of God despite being a mere man.

By this point, it's clear that anyone who asks Him to give proof is not going to believe it anyway, for they are so dead-set** on the idea that Jesus is NOT the Messiah. This is also backed up by the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man:

Luke 16:30-31 (NLT)

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Well...not only did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (and the Pharisees still didn't believe [John 11]), Jesus Himself rose from the dead...and sure enough, many people didn't believe anyway. Refusing to believe evidence because it doesn't agree with one's beliefs is not just a modern phenomenon...


**Awful pun, I know. Though I guess you could say it's a killer pun.

...sorry.

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I'm not sure why he only showed Himself to a few people when he arose from the dead. ...I mean wouldn't this be a good opportunity? –  Greg McNulty Sep 24 '12 at 3:00
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@GregMcNulty: 1 Corinthians 15:6 says that Jesus appeared to 500 people at once. –  El'endia Starman Sep 24 '12 at 3:07
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@GregMcNulty: I do not know of any, but that doesn't mean there weren't any; very few manuscripts from that period survived. –  El'endia Starman Sep 24 '12 at 3:32
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@GregMcNulty Yes, there are the accounts left by Matthew and John that are preserved in our modern Bibles. :-) I don't know of any other surviving documents, but suppose there had been a dozen. Surely skeptics would claim they were all forgeries or lies or hallucinations, just like they do about Matthew and John. I don't see how adding a few more would make a difference. –  Jay Sep 24 '12 at 4:39
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Are you a pundamentalist? Ahem. –  Wikis Sep 26 '12 at 9:51
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I know that there are already some wonderful answers to this question, but I thought that I would just add in my two bits, which hadn't already been said.

Namely, that besides having already given them signs and proofs through many miracles, he also had three other reasons for not fully disclosing His identity as Messiah:

  1. For the good reason that the Jewish leaders and priests were from the beginning hostile to him, and planning for his death. If he had given his true identity away to them they would probably have crucified him before the right time.
  2. Also, for the people's misunderstanding of him as an earthly and political ruler.
  3. And lastly for his desire to evoke genuine faith not based completely on His signs.

Okay, now something not totally related, though somewhat as a reply to some comments on El'endia Starman's answer. I was wondering if anybody had read the Gospel according to Nicodemus? It has a wonderful account of the resurrection through the eyes of those risen from the tomb on Christ's descent into Hades. Here is a link. Just start at page 19. I found that to be very interesting.

Forgive me if I strayed off topic. "Bearing with one another and forgiving one another..."

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