(Painting: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem," by James Tissot, c.1890, watercolor)
46.) Prophecy in Jesus’ Preaching - Christ’s preaching was also, in places, a prophetic foretelling both of the tragedies to come on Israel and the church within the 1st century and, at the same time, of the final eschaton. It was widely accepted among the early church fathers that some of Christ's warnings regarding signs of "the end of the age" were in fact specific instructions directed at the church of Jerusalem to flee Judea before the Roman legions descended on the area in the Jewish War (AD 66-70), and, in fact, good historical tradition records that the Jerusalem church did indeed follow Jesus' prophecy and fled across the Jordan, to the region of Petra. Most of the prophetic vein of Jesus' teaching seems to have two dimensions: once again, an ethical imperative (that we might be living in light of the end, in a constant state of hope and expectancy), and a compassionate forewarning, that those involved might be prepared for what is to come.
47.) Miraculous Signs in Jesus’ Ministry - In addition to preaching, Christ’s ministry included signs, healings, and exorcisms. The “signs,” a category which includes many of his miracles, were displays of divine power and authority over the created order, and they were meant to call attention to Jesus’ identity and mission. The signs were not, then, an end in themselves; the point was not to woo onlookers with dazzling displays of power; they were for the purpose of substantiating Jesus’ claims. It is perhaps wrong to describe these things as “supernatural,” for that term betrays an idea unknown to Scriptural tradition, an assumption of a severe dichotomous boundary between “nature” and what is beyond. Such a dichotomy does exist, certainly, between the created universe (including both space-time and “mind,” both animals and angels) as “nature” on the one hand and God himself, the divine essence, on the other. However, though he is “wholly other,” he is also mystically immanent throughout his creation, and the “laws” of nature are as much descriptions of the normal way that matter interacts within the presence of the immanent God as they are hard-and-fast rules. As such, the sign-miracles of Christ are not some foreign intrusion, a meddling in the streamlined laws of physics; they are simply the evidence that the one who makes the laws of physics tick is present, and, as their author, he is not subsumed within their boundaries.