Did Jesus use logic to persuade His hearers?

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Jesus and Logic

Jesus, the Son of God, was a deep philosopher, who valued reason and logic (John 14:6). In His divine nature, the laws of logic are part of His intellect. God invites man to reason with Him (Isaiah 1:18). Man’s reasoning powers were given him to use, and he can make no better use of them than to discover the way to be saved and gain eternal life (John 17:3).

The Story of the Paralytic

The story of the paralytic is one example where Jesus used logic to answer a question. A paralytic man sought Jesus for healing but because the house where Jesus resided was very crowded, his friends lowered him down through a hole in the roof into the presence of Jesus. Mark recorded:

“When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God…” (Mark 2:5-12).

In their hearts, the scribes accused Jesus of blasphemy, since He claimed to forgive the paralytic of his sins – an act that only God could rightly do. By asking the question, “Which is easier…?,” Jesus was calling them to reason and apply logic. If Jesus had the power to make the paralytic walk, then He either had divine help or He, Himself, was God. People may attempt to say “Your sins are forgiven” but can they back it up with supernatural power to prove that they can actually forgive sins?  Saying a promise is something and backing it with mighty deeds is another thing.

Follow the logic in this story: If Jesus can perform supernatural acts, then His claim to be the Son of God who can forgive sin is true. The fact that Jesus performed many supernatural acts proved that He is the Son of God Who can forgive sin.

The Sadducees’ Question

In another incident, Jesus used logic with the Saducces who tried to trap him. Matthew recorded: “The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also.  Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her” (Matthew 22:23-28).

Jesus responded to the Sadducees’ question, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  By His response, Jesus broke away from the Sadducees’ trap. He revealed a hidden assumption of their argument, their wrong supposition that resurrected saints will be married. Since the resurrected will “neither marry nor are given in marriage,” there is no need for the question.

Jesus responded with what philosophers call the “tertium quid,” meaning the “third thing,” not the false A or the false B, but the true C. Then, Jesus declared the truth: “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31:32).

The Pharisees’ Question

In another incident, Jesus used logic to answer the Pharisees. Matthew recorded: “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.  Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Matthew 22:15-22).

Here, Jesus used again a “tertium quid” to avoid the two sides of the dilemma. Jesus upheld the law of noncontradiction as an essential test for truth. A statement and its negation cannot both be true in the same way at the same time. Jesus never used a proposition and its negation as both true; nor did he use conflicting paradoxes to eliminate rational thought. He never resorted to an irreducible paradox when pushed by a logical question. When the religious leaders charged him of spreading doctrines that contradict their own traditions, He used rational arguments to explain the seeming contradiction and acquit His preaching.  

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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