After Jesus had spent a while showing them how it was done, he sent his apostles out to heal the sick and exorcise evil spirits. He told them not to carry anything in which to store money; he had no intention of them leaving rich or coming back richer. Boy Howdy, how things have changed in the realm of Christendom! The apostles, apparently, did as they were told, though I’m suspicious that ole Judas might have returned with a coin or two tucked away in his sleeve. Alms for the poor, of course…
At any rate, the apostles came back and reported to Jesus and he continued doing what he’d been doing: driving out demons, giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, restoring speech and hearing to the mute and deaf and, every now and then, raising a dead person back to life. In other words, doing things that the Messiah would do. Oh, yes, and forgiving sin, something that the Pharisees found particularly annoying.
One day, he asked his disciples something to the effect of, “So, what are folks saying about me? Who do they say that I am?”
They answered with a short list: John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the other prophets from long ago. Speculation from the bewildered and amazed. People confronted with a power beyond their comprehension, knowing that such miracles as they were seeing were well beyond the usual tricks of magicians and sorcerers.
Turning from the question of public opinion, Jesus made it more personal and asked his disciples, “What about you? Who do you think I am?” Peter famously responded, “You are the Christ of God.” Made perfect sense to him after what he’d seen and heard.
What strikes me as rather interesting is that Peter didn’t reply, “Oh, Teacher, don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but… well, they’re on to you. They know we’re just tricking them, making this stuff up. They see right through all this supposed healing and everything. They know we’ve planted our own people and they’re just pretending to be sick or afflicted. Dead, whatever.”
No, it was long, long after all the witnesses were dead that scoffers came up with one version or another of that story. Long after all the people who died for their own version of the truth had been tortured and executed, and still refused to say, “Hey, we were just playing around; we made it all up.” Not even Jesus’ contemporary enemies dared say that it was all hoax and hokey-ness. Not even the ones who hated him so much they wanted him dead.
I am sure that one day, every soul will admit the true identity of the Carpenter. I just hope it’s in time to do them some good.