Humans have always held a religious vigor for retributive justice. In other words, justice through “right-handed” means; or a means of strength, glory, and mental/physical prowess that’s intended to overcome our enemies.
John the Baptizer was hopeful that Jesus was THE Messiah who’d come and baptize by fire opening a can of holy whoop ass on all of the evils of the world (Matthew 3:11). He hoped that Jesus was the right-handed regulator to rescue him and his people from Rome’s oppressive power. The people were hopeful that this Messiah would come and make sure that people straightened up and flew right.
Well, you might know the story… Jesus ended up being a huge disappointment as a bringer of right-handed power. A total flop. Sure, he tipped a table over and had a hissy fit or two. And rightly so. But mostly, he was content to heal some folks who were sick and infirm, restore some lepers to health and wholeness, raise a couple of dead people, and preach the good news of an indiscriminately gracious God.
And what did we do?…
We latched onto his right-handed miracles and signs. But here’s the thing… There were a number of miracle workers and healers in his day — that wasn’t anything too special.
Besides, even if Jesus were to have opened up a freelance miracle-working business on the Galilee Craigslist page and performed them every day of his life, not much about the world would change. For one, he’d only reach a minuscule fraction of the world’s population. And then, even they would likely just turn right around, fall back into some other illness, and cook up other ways to oppress themselves and each other.
So, Jesus soon revealed his true mission. Not to win over the forces that be. But to die to them all together and bring a new creation into being.
As Jesus got closer to the cross, he actively tried to hide his miracles before stopping them altogether (I know, such a messianic rookie move to lead with miracles). He knew that we were entirely missing the point of his work and our greatest need…
Our greatest need is not mere healing. It is not signs. Or betterment. Or punishment.
Our greatest need is reconciliation.