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Anyone who claims to be the Christ will meet with the question: Can you produce a miracle? This question was asked of Jesus, and it was asked of Baha'u'llah. The Bible tells us that those who asked this question of Jesus were motivated by malice:
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (mat 4:3)
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. (mat 12:38-39)
In the following verses, John refers to a prophecy of Isaiah relating to the miracles of Jesus:
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? (joh 12:37-38)
By the authority of Jesus, miracles are not conclusive proof that someone is the Christ, for He tells us not to believe in someone because they show great signs and wonders (Matt. 24:24). In the following verses, Jesus gives us perspective on the performance of miracles, revealing that faith in Him and obedience to His Teachings give life, not miracles:
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (joh 6:26-35)
Baha'u'llah was also asked to perform miracles:
It often happened that in Baghdad certain Muhammadan ulama [Muslim priests], Jewish rabbis and Christians met together with some European scholars, in a blessed reunion: each one had some question to propose, and although they were possessed of varying degrees of culture, they each heard a suffcient and convincing reply, and retired satisfied. Even the Persian ulama who were at Karbila and Najaf chose a wise man whom they sent on a mission to Him; his name was Mulla Hasan Amu. He came into the Holy Presence, and proposed a number of questions on behalf of the ulama, to which Baha'u'llah replied. Then Hasan Amu said, 'The ulama recognize without hesitation and confess the knowledge and virtue of Baha'u'llah, and they are unanimously convinced that in all learning he has no peer or equal; and it is also evident that he has never studied or acquired this learning; but still the ulama say, "We are not contented with this; we do not acknowledge the reality of his mission by virtue of his wisdom and righteousness. Therefore, we ask him to show us a miracle in order to satisfy and tranquilize our hearts.'"
Baha'u'llah replied, 'Although you have no right to ask this, for God should test His creatures, and they should not test God, still I allow and accept this request. But the Cause of God is not a theatrical display that is presented every hour, of which some new diversion may be asked for every day..
'The ulamas must, therefore, assemble, and, with one accord, choose one miracle, and write that, after the performance of this miracle they will no longer entertain doubts about Me, and that all will acknowledge and confess the truth of My Cause. Let them seal this paper, and bring it to Me. This must be the accepted criterion: if the miracle is performed, no doubt will remain for them; and if not, We shall be convicted of imposture.' The learned man, Hasan Amu, rose and replied, 'There is no more to be said;' he then kissed the knee of the Blessed One although he was not a believer, and went. He gathered the ulama and gave them the sacred message. They consulted together and said, 'This man is an enchanter; perhaps he will perform an enchantment, and then we shall have nothing more to say.' Acting on this belief, they did not dare to push the matter further. (saq 28-30)
As illustrated in this story, Baha'u'llah, like Christ, refused to produce signs and wonders for the entertainment of doubters. Although miracles can constitute a compelling proof for those who witness them, for others they are subject to question. As we read from the above story and in the New Testament, even those who witness them, if their purpose is to oppose Him, will not believe. The Baha'i understanding of the purpose and significance of miracles is presented in the following passages:
The meaning is not that the Manifestations are unable to perform miracles, for They have all power. But for Them inner sight, spiritual healing and eternal life are the valuable and important things. Consequently, whenever it is recorded in the Holy Books that such a one was blind and recovered his sight, the meaning is that he was inwardly blind, and that he obtained spiritual vision, or that he was ignorant and became wise, or that he was negligent and became heedful, or that he was worldly and became heavenly. (saq 102)
Recollect that Christ, solitary and alone, without a helper or protector, without armies and legions, and under the greatest oppression, uplifted the standard of God before all the people of the world, and withstood them, and finally conquered all, although outwardly He was crucified. Now this is a veritable miracle which can never be denied. There is no need of any other proof of the truth of Christ.
The outward miracles have no importance for the people of Reality. If a blind man receives sight, for example, he will finally again become sightless, for he will die and be deprived of all his senses and powers. Therefore, causing the blind man to see is comparatively of little importance, for this faculty of sight will at last disappear. If the body of a dead person be resuscitated, of what use is it since the body will die again? But it is important to give perception and eternal life-that is, the spiritual and divine life. For this physical life is not immortal, and its existence is equivalent to nonexistence. So it is that Christ said to one of His disciples: 'Let the dead bury their dead;' for 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' (saq 101)
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