An agnostic friend asked me a question a few weeks ago and I’ve been trying to come up with a satisfying answer. I have yet to come up with one that really satisfies me, so I’d like to start a dialogue on it.
The question my friend asked was “Why doesn’t Jesus just come down with some miracles and show once and for all that he is God?” This seems like a very reasonable question to me- I mean, if he came down and turned some water into wine and healed some people of terminal cancers and did some awesome, supernatural stuff… everyone would believe in him, right? He wants people to believe in him, so why is he sitting up in his cloud palace playing a totally unfair game of hide-and-seek?
I think that one potential answer to this question is that the presupposition that Jesus showing up in body would make people believe is not a legitimate presupposition.
After all, when Jesus came a couple thousand years ago, lots of people didn’t believe. Take the beginning of Mark 8, for example. Jesus has been doing miracles for a while and now he takes 7 loaves of bread and feeds a few thousand people. Immediately after that, a bunch of Pharisees come up to him and ask for “a sign from heaven to test him.” In response, Jesus “sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.’ And he left them.” (Mark 8: 11-13). It looks to me like Jesus is saying that they’re not going to believe in him no matter what he does. I think that we have a similar thing going on here right now. The world is replete with evidence of his Lordship, so it doesn’t matter if he comes down and miracle punches the world, people are still going to disbelieve him.
Now, putting back on my non-Christian cap, I think that that^^^ looks like a pile of rubbish on a couple of counts.
1. The world does not look to be replete with Jesus’s lordship. Bad stuff happens all over the place. It doesn’t seem like a good God would allow all of that to happen… Also, all sorts of goods can be easily explained by endorphins and other natural stuff like that.
2. Even more compellingly, I’m pretty darn sure that I’d believe if I saw Jesus come down and do something miraculous.
Christian Karl: I think that the answer is pretty offensive and I find myself reticent to say it… I think the answer is “non-Christian Karl, your lens is blurry.” The bible says that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of all wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Unless you fear the LORD, you are not going to have wisdom and are therefore not going to understand what’s going on.
Non-Christian Karl: Christian Karl, you’re being really arrogant- you’re calling me unwise? You’re the one who believes in something without any evidence…Also, how the heck am I supposed to come to the “LORD” if he doesn’t give me the wisdom to come in the first place?
Christian Karl: Well… I do think that I have evidence, it just… doesn’t make sense to you because you can’t tell what it is… If the LORD revealed to you, you’d get it. Also, you don’t come to the LORD of your own power. You can’t. I can’t. No one can by himself. He has to come to you (which Jesus makes possible!).
Non-Christian Karl: Ugh. You Christians are so frustrating. But I guess that I can’t philosophically discount that there might be something that I am not seeing clearly. But you have to also give me that you might not be seeing clearly.
Christian Karl: Granted.
Karl’s conclusion: If Jesus Christ came down in the flesh, people still wouldn’t believe… So it doesn’t make sense to ask in the first place. But to a non-Christian, all this hooey about the hiddenness of God is probably not so compelling.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this issue!
P.S. There are other reasons that people have offered for why Jesus doesn’t come down again. Among them:
1. Now, the church is his “body” and is supposed to act as such.
2. If he kept coming down, he wouldn’t very well be human, right?