John chapter 3, today I’m reading from the Voice.
Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, a man with some clout among his people. He came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness to question Him.
Nicodemus: Teacher, some of us have been talking. You are obviously a teacher who has come from God. The signs You are doing are proof that God is with You.
So far, in this story, Jesus has turned water into wine, and driven people out of the temple. But the fact that he says “signs,” plural, probably means that this interaction happened after some more things had happened. The book of John was not written down while the events were happening, it was written after the end. John went back and wrote everything from a later point. So this conversation with Nicodemus was important to him, but he might have omitted things that happened before this conversation. Actually, I’m sure he did. Because there’s a verse at the end of this book of John that says,
There are so many other things that Jesus said and did; and if these accounts were also written down, the books could not be contained in the entire cosmos.
But at any rate, John is writing the parts down that he thinks we should notice.
And one thing we notice is the signs.
Miracles, by definition, are “surprising and welcome events that are not explicable by natural or scientific laws and therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.”
Jesus performed miracles, and they were considered signs that he came from God, or that his power was from God. The water turning into wine? Definitely a surprising and welcome event. But there were more. Jesus also healed people, a lot, actually. Matthew says,
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Jesus also did other miraculous things. He stopped a storm. He called demons out of people. He made food multiply. Once he made a huge school of fish swamp a fisherman’s net. Another time, when tax was due, he told his disciple to go catch a fish, and when he caught it, there was a coin in the fish’s mouth that was exactly the amount of the tax. He walked on water. He raised people from the dead.
And of course, he rose from the dead himself.
Miracles and Signs.
This is such a passionate subject for me. One of the things I’ve been praying for is this- to see the glory of God, to see signs and wonders. You see, Jesus performed signs and miracles, and the people knew he was from God. Look at what Nicodemus says!
And later, in the book of Acts, Peter and John, two of the disciples, pray this way:
“Now, Lord… grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
The early church knew that signs and miracles convinced people that the message they had was from God. And Jesus alone did not perform signs- they happened in the church as it grew through many believers, not just the disciples, but the disciples of the disciples.
Here’s the deal. Some people teach that the signs are done. That Jesus performed signs, and his first disciples did, but after that, nada. Nothing. Done. They teach that only the message is enough. The gospel is the power of salvation, that’s it.
But that’s not what I see in the scriptures. What I see is that Jesus had signs that accompanied his message, and because of the signs, the people listened to his message. And the same with the disciples. And I also see that the promise of power from God is for every believer.
Which is why this is such a passionate subject for me. Because I think that we walk in so, so much less than we have available. I think that the power from God to heal and bless and do the miraculous is still available, and the current church does not really walk in it.
I think, actually- that there is a great divide. I think that there are several branches of the church, and each one is independant of each other, and one branch embraces the spirit and seeks after the gifts and abilities to perform miracles, and another branch, or other branches, deny that it’s available.
But I also see this: I’ve been in both branches. I’ve been in churches where they seek the miraculous, believe for amazing things- but they have a lack of something, I want to say, maturity. There is not enough growing in steadfastness, in love, in grace. There is an imbalance.
And in the other branch? There is plenty of steadfastness, and faithfulness, and good steady, loving and serving life…. But there is no sense of the wonder and the possibility of what God can do. There is a serious lack of joy.
Both sides are missing something.
I want to live in both. I want to graft the two sides together and say, Listen! You who love the Word, you who stand in Faith on your Salvation, bless you! Have you heard of the amazing works of the Spirit?
And you who run after signs and wonders, are you also growing in faithfulness and putting away sin, and letting your life look like a true Christ follower?
Because we have to have both. You have to have the message and the sign, to fully have what He offers!
As for me, I want more of the signs, and I want my life to also grow in maturity. I want to be
“Full to the full measure,”
as it says in Ephesians.
I don’t want to miss anything I have available in the Lord.
I don’t know what that looks like. I know that as I read testimonies of people who have experienced the miraculous, such as Angus Buchan’s story, or Chasing the Dragon, I find myself longing to experience more and more these crazy things of the Lord. I find myself walking through my casual Christian life with an undercurrent of discontent.
The truth is, the miraculous often happens in places when people are on the front lines, in enemy territory. God steps in and does the miraculous because it’s needed- there is no other option. And my life doesn’t reflect that. If I have a need, I work harder. If I have a vision for something, i plan and organize and try to make it happen.
But my hunger is growing. I want to see God working, I want it. I want to step out in faith in ways where God loves to show up.
And I know, I know. There is a part in the gospel where Jesus says, “You wicked and adulterous generation, you long for a sign, but all that will be granted is the sign of Jonah.” But you know what? I don’t think this is a universal statement that says all signs are wrong. I could say more but I’ll let John Piper do it. In fact, if you have any comment about whether signs and wonders are for today, I urge you to read his detailed, researched, and excellent article I’ve linked there. He says it better than I could.
Anyway. I’m feeling hungry for more. I’m feeling hungry for more of an outward expression in the world that the God of the Universe is at work in me. I am glad for the fruits of the spirit, I’m glad for growing in maturity in grace. I am eternal thankful for my eternal salvation, and I believe the gospel and my testimony and the blood of the lamb is what has the power in the world, and if that’s all, it’s a billion times more than enough.
But I don’t think that’s all. I think that Christ gave us more than that, and that too often we don’t take hold of it- but I want to. And maybe it starts with this, the wonder and awe of walking after what Jesus said we would, that signs and wonders would follow those who believed.
I want it not for the sparkle and fun, but because I want to affect the world. I want to be a burning light in the world, because I want to see the lost return to him.
I want to see the church lifted up in hope, with their eyes fixed on Him, I want to see a restoration of hope and joy and life and experiential knowledge of the power of God.
And so I pray, like Peter and John did,
“Grant your servants to speak your word with boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through your holy servant Jesus.”
This post is part of a series going through the Gospel of John. You can subscribe above, by email, or you can go through at your own pace by heading over to the lead page. Just click here.