sign: an object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else.
wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
miracle: a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.
When you read those definitions did you see “that which changes the world we live in to be a better place?” I don’t either but maybe I missed something since these are English words. Here are the Greek words that translate as those English words:
sēmeíon – a sign (typically miraculous), given especially to confirm, corroborate or authenticate. 4592 /sēmeíon (“sign”) then emphasizes the end-purpose which exalts the one giving it. Accordingly, it is used dozens of times in the NT for what authenticates the Lord and His eternal purpose, especially by doing what mere man can not replicate of take credit for. (HELPS)
thaúma – a wonder, evoking “emotional” astonishment (gaping) at the marvel, i.e. performed to powerfully strike the viewer personally (uniquely, individually).
dýnamis (from 1410 /dýnamai, “able, having ability”) – properly, “ability to perform” (L-N); for the believer, power to achieve by applying the Lord’s inherent abilities. “Power through God’s ability” (1411 /dýnamis) is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven (glorification).
Do you see in those “Greek” definitions any “change the world to make it a better place?” I see signs are for the authentication of the one performing them. I see a wonder emotionally impacts the one that “wonders what it is.” I see the dynamis power behind miracles that come through ones inherent abilities. OK, here is another “miracle” word:
íasis (a feminine noun derived from 2309 /thélō, “supernaturally heal”) – healing, especially the spiritual process of God’s grace causing the supernatural (divine) healing; “the process . . . of healing
I still don’t see “for the purposes of ….” Do you?
Again I want to be very very clear. God, through our cooperation and agreement and faith and abilities and gifts and wiring and compassion and desires and passions…God in us expresses Himself as Love and changes anything and everything. Love created the universe. Love can and will change situations. Love is the highest power and authority because Love is God and God is Love. We are His children and like Jesus we are in union with God. Check out the “no separation” posts here. Also take a look at the last two posts starting with “more than raising the dead.”
In our last post I tried to show that our dualistic thinking has us categorizing everything. When we do that and can’t see the greater reality…God is in everything and everyone…we operate out of wrong understanding and make terrible assumptions about “how things work.” We make God out to be more like a disinfectant than Love. His presence doesn’t ZAP the “bad” into oblivion. Our awareness of His presence is the light shining in the darkness. Our agreement with His union brings revelation of His person. We begin to “see” that God is so amazingly good and kind and loving and honest and vulnerable and noble and excited and engaged and interested and passionate and compassionate and lovely and beautiful and awesome and brilliant and wise and so so much more. He isn’t blasting the “bad” out with His “antiseptic good.” He is revealing Himself in our circumstance. This is the brilliance of His plan to “change the world.”
His provision and care and miraculous impacts and signs and wonders and healing are expressions of His Love not demonstrations of His existence. God doesn’t need to prove anything. We don’t need to “see another miracle” to know there is a God because He is in each and every one of us revealing Himself over and over again in our personal, intimate, vulnerable, dark, gloomy, sad, lost, broken, blind, rebellious….places. He is in our joy and in our grief. He is in our running away and our running to. People don’t need another miracle to believe. They need to “see” to believe. “Seeing” is the dots being connected and permission to believe “something” they already know.
Here in the west, specifically with the western Greek mythology influenced, dualistic Newtonian ideology…that was a mouthful…likely many already “know” of God but aren’t given permission to believe. The influence of the “Christian religion” that insists we “say the prayer” or “believe what I believe” or “you are doomed if you are not one of us” or “God only works this way according to what I am certain to be true” and of course “if you don’t believe what I believe and do what I do and think the way I think then you will be tortured for all eternity by my g.o.d. who can’t wait to hurt you…..” Oh yeah, all that likely frightens those who have had God tugging on them for their whole lives to hide from God. They hide in a place where they won’t trust what God is doing because of the fear projected on them by the religious structures.
OK, enough beating up the “religious” for now so let me show you that this very thing happened to Jesus. The religious had a way of DOING things and Jesus showed up to REVEAL the one true God, our Abba. In the end even the miracles didn’t work. Even the signs fell short. Even the wonders provoked more hate than understanding. Still they (we) killed Him as He revealed the love of God. His death was the real power of love.
In the Gospel of John there is a story about Jesus healing a man at a “healing pool” called Bethesda (the name of the military hospital in DC). This man has been crippled for a very long time. He has given up on people helping him into the pool. The tradition was if you got in the pool when “the angels stirred the water” then you would be healed. Nobody has helped him into the pool. He was so “done” Jesus even asked him if he still wanted to be healed. This is where Jesus really shows us God. He heals the man and doesn’t say who He is. He doesn’t need any credit. He isn’t doing it to “prove He is real.” He is just healing the man. The Jews however saw the event as a violation of the Sabbath laws. Interesting. I bet Jesus saw that coming.
Jesus goes on to explain that He is God and revealing God. Why would they want to kill Him? They reject Him because He isn’t following their religious rules and is revealing a God that isn’t like the one they thought would come to save them from the Romans. Stated simply…they missed God and are too stubborn to change their minds.
John 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (ESV)
Remember this started with Jesus healing a crippled man on the Sabbath.
Next Jesus “feeds the five thousand” and they chase Him across the lake to “make Him king.” Again Jesus is working miracles for a purpose. In this case people were hungry. They see this power and want to make Him King. “Just think what He could do as our King” they think. Jesus sets them straight again about the miracles.
John 6:31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
Then later Jesus appears at the Temple. The crowd is split. Some say His signs must be proof that He is the Christ. Others want to arrest Him for “breaking the rules.” Jesus is going after something deeper than just the signs.
John 7:23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
It started with healing a man on the Sabbath. The miracle was wonderful for the man. It was divisive for the people. Jesus loved the man into wholeness. The reaction was less than wholeness. For the religious rule followers they had no grid for this kind of love. They had no exceptions for the love of God expressed in a “work” on a “no work day.” How blind is blind?
Sings point to something. The miraculous points to God. It isn’t proof that He is real. People can see it that way but the “unexplainable work” is just an expression of God’s love. These wonders are pointing to a God who is Love. Sadly the fallen nature infused with derisive and divisive religion refuses to see this Love. So sometimes the miracles backfire. Our purpose is to reveal the Father like Jesus did. That takes place in our personal and intimate expression of His love. This Love is genuine and unconditional and divine and powerful and sometimes something unexplainable happens. The sign is pointing to Him.
This post is really to set the stage for the next. Stay tuned.