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The life of Jesus was lived before us as a sign, a sign that God has not forgotten us, a sign that God has a Son, and that Son is as powerful and as miraculous as He is; a sign that God wants us to know Him and more importantly, God wants to know us.

Whether He was the Life of the Son of God or the Life of the Son of Man, Jesus is the Sign, the Wonder and the Miracle, and it is in looking at Him and learning from Him that we can learn and appreciate the implications of the applications of a signs, wonders and miracles ministry.

Reason and purpose are the two guide ropes for every sign, wonder and miracle, because we are about to face the manifestation of Satan and the false prophet at their high points in terms of signs, wonders and miracles.  Although there may be better definitions than these in the opinion of man, you can define and differentiate between a sign, a wonder and a miracle on this basis. 

·       A sign is a manifestation of a phenomenon that can be seen or heard and even felt that speaks of what is to come, no different from a road sign telling you or warning you what is ahead. 

·       A wonder is a manifestation or a phenomenon that again can be seen, heard or felt that causes you to question what it means.

·       A miracle is the manifestation that confirms your faith and knowledge and causes others to put their faith in the Lord.

As a Sign, Jesus shows us what is awaiting men and women who will believe in Him and put their faith in Him.  The Life that He lived as the Son of God is the sign that tells us what awaits us as we follow Him in His way, the Way.  That we would come to know the Father as He knows the Father, and do, understand and know things as He does.  He is the Sign for all who desire to know the Father and not just God.  Moses is the sign for those who want to come to know God, so that all who listen to Moses will come to know God as the Lord introduced to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.  Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”[1]  And all who listen to Jesus will come to know God the Father.  So the reason and the purpose of Jesus, who is the Sign to us, is to show those who would listen and follow Him what awaits them as sons of God.  Moses shows those who listen and follow him what awaits the people of God.

The wonder of Jesus, the Wonder that is Jesus, is that He causes people to ask questions about Him and about God through what they hear and see Him teaching and doing.  He generated such questions as, “Are You the Christ?”[2]  “What is this teaching?”[3]  And most importantly, “Are You the King of the Jews?”[4] and, “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.”[5]  And today another question is asked by those who prefer to follow men who say they are sent by God:  “How can God have a Son?”

You see, the Wonder that is Jesus Christ is that He behaved like no other religious person, mixing with sinners and being their friend, and got Himself a reputation as a drunkard and a glutton, all the whilst teaching things that were new and unheard of, even going as far as changing the written law itself with His “But I tell you…” teachings.  But yet at the same time doing miracles that none of the religious men of His day could do.  That is the Wonder that is Jesus.  He was and is not what you expect, making you and causing you to question.  These very questions that He generated and still generates are designed, purposed and reasoned to challenge the very core of what you may believe and hold to be sacred about God.  Certainly it made religious people very uncomfortable and gave sinners a reason to rejoice, for Jesus revealed that God is not what religious men think He is, certainly not self-righteous, religious men.  And He was such a breath of fresh air to sinners, tax collectors, to Zacchaeus the swindler, to the woman caught in adultery, to the woman with the issue of blood, to the Roman centurion with a sick servant, and so on and so on.

And the Miracle that He is through His merciful, gracious and compassionate way, with the blind seeing, the lame walking, sinners forgiven and protected from punishment according to the law, displays that which every man who knows that one day he must face judgement, the miracle he has been hoping for; that there is Someone who would be his Advocate before God, but not only his Advocate, but his Redeemer.  And what a Redeemer!  One who does not transfer the debt but forgives the debt.  It is like the story of the man a few years ago who was facing court for bankruptcy to be told he had just won the biggest jackpot of US history! 

That was the Miracle—God has sent His Christ, and what a Christ!  Not a conquering handsome hero ready to punish the sinners, but a humble, gently Man of no natural beauty that should attract us to Him, who would not break a bruised reed or put out a smouldering wick with power beyond any person, army or devil, to cause blind men to see, lame men to walk, return dead sons to their mothers, dead children to their parents, dead brothers to their sisters, and so on and so on.  Doing it all with such gracious generosity that no one was ever made to feel as if they were obliged to Him.  And for His disciples, the Miracle that death could not hold Him down.  He wasn’t a good Man that evil men could kill and keep killed, but One who though they killed, they couldn’t keep Him killed; the greatest fairytale, if you like, coming true before their very eyes.  The Miracle that caused those who received Him to confirm their faith and increased their knowledge of God, even to knowing the Father, and those who heard of Him to put their faith in God so that hope could be generated from that faith.

Paul told us about faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love,[6] so we tend to undervalue hope.  Yes, we have emphasised faith, for without faith you cannot please God, and Jesus Himself told many, “Your faith has healed you.”[7]  He displayed His love for the Father and His love for us with His life on the cross and His death.  But the hope that is generated by a miracle you see, words and promises may form the first vestiges of hope when you hear them, but the sight of a miracle causes hope to be confirmed.  And it is of the Miracle that He is that Paul wrote:  Christ in you, the hope of glory.[8]  You see, miracles bring hope beyond what is reasonable. 

When Mary and the other women went to the grave that morning, what were they hoping for?  It is written:  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”[9]  They were hoping to anoint the dead body of Jesus.  They were hoping the soldiers guarding the tomb might be kind and do it for them.  They were hoping for a miracle, and when the Miracle appeared, they didn’t get to anoint His dead body.  Nobody did, but one of them got to hold onto Him alive!  Breathing!  Speaking, saying words that would have been a miracle in itself for her to never forget:  “Mary…  Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.  Go instead to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’”[10]  The purpose and the reason for the miracle:  To set in Mary’s heart, soul, mind and might the very reality of the knowledge that God is the Father of Jesus Christ and also our Father as well as our God. 

And the Sign, Wonder and Miracle that He also is when He lived and died on that cross and was buried in the tomb like any son of man as the Son of Man, is that God is prepared to share the fate of man.  God is not going to be watching from a distance, no, God is prepared to live as a man lives and not as a God.  That was the sign —not to man, no, but to angels, powers, authorities and rulers in Heavenly places.  It was the sign —He was the Sign of what is to come when God will dwell in New Jerusalem amongst His people, amongst men, sons of men.  That there would be no religious relationship between God and man, for there is no temple in New Jerusalem, but God would be the Temple as John wrote:  I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple.[11]  It was the sign —He was the Sign that God would live with man even if it meant that He had to live as a Man.

And the Wonder that Jesus is to those angelic rulers and principalities is that God is so determined to live with man and to know and understand what it means to be man that the Son of Man would die on that cross.  God would die in order to achieve His goal, and so He died.  Jesus, God the Son, as a Wonder not to men for man had seen other men die on the cross, but for demons and angels.  And God knows what powers, rulers and principalities in Heaven got to see —it was a wonder, a wonder that caused them to question their own positions and reality.

And the Miracle for the spirituals was that Jesus, God the Son, would allow Himself to be buried in a tomb and remain dead without raising Himself up, but waited for the Holy Spirit to raise Him by His power so that when He was made alive in the spirit by the Spirit, He did not return to Heaven to be at the Father’s side.  He did not go to be where the spirits of righteous men are waiting.  He did not return to His legions of faithful angels waiting to greet him triumphantly.  No, He went as Peter wrote for us this revelation:  He went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah…[12]

He went, yes!  He went, but more than going, He went and He preached to them.  Preached!  Preached!  Preached!  He didn’t judge, He didn’t condemn!  He didn’t gloat!  He didn’t sentence them; He preached to them.  He, who is the Good News of God, preached to spirits in prison!

No one expected that, no one dared hope for that; certainly not the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home who were kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgement on the great Day.[13]  Not the spirits of men who died in the flood or the spirits of the Nephilims, no one expected it, no more than Mary Magdalene expected to be holding on to the living, breathing flesh of her Lord and hearing Him say, “Mary.”  That miracle has shaken the very core of the entire rebellion —no longer is the future clear cut and black and white. 

And when God showed John the Lake of Fire, it is, yes, reserved for the devil and his angels, but only the false prophet, the beast, death and Satan are thrown in along with the cowards, the vile and the unbelieving.[14]  There is no record of an angel thrown in unless you want to include them amongst the cowardly, unbelieving and vile.  Then the miracle of Jesus preaching in the spirit to spirits in prison raises this question:  How much of a coward can a demon be who openly stands to fight and defend his ground against angels twice as powerful and numerous than demons are?  You see, courage is not the sole monopoly of men.  Even demons have courage if only you have the courage to respect them also.  For the devil only tempted one third of the angels into rebellion, and these one third fought a war in Heaven against an opposing army twice its size with Jesus leading them.  Whatever you may say about them, you cannot call them cowards.  They may have been thrown down to Earth living like refugees, seeking refuge in sinful men and women through deception, yes, but cowards?  No, they were not, they are trying to survive to fight again, and that is not the way of a coward.  No wonder Paul wrote:  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.[15]  For since that time, the rank and file of the demon hordes have been split with the rumour that God is merciful even to demons, as Legion can testify in Mark 5. 

So, the Sign, the Wonder and the Miracle that are Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, have been displayed in the Life that is Jesus in the Way and the Truth that is Him, plainly and openly for all to see and behold, both for the sons of men and the angelic sons of God and the sons of the devil.  Pointing to what is yet to come, causing us all to question what we believe and making us all hope for more than we dare to see what God who is Love holds in Himself for all who love Him, for all who repent and for all who do not know any better.  Jesus Christ, the Life, the Way and the Truth of the Son of God and the Son of Man, has shown us the way to apply signs, wonders and miracles, and through Him, discern and see through the false signs and wonders and miracles, even the best ones.

Every sign, wonder and miracle we do and will do must likewise show not only the sons of men what is yet to come, but even the demons what is yet to come.  They must cause not only the sons of men to question in wonderment what do they mean, and rock the very foundation of their beliefs in God to the core, as well as the spirituals.  It must exceed anything anyone dares hope for in mercy, in compassion and in love, for God the Father is not only Perfect, He is also merciful and compassionate to His enemies.  The purpose and the reason for all signs, wonders and miracles must all point to the Father Jesus revealed by His Life and not to God only.  It must cause people to wonder about the Father and not God only.  It must cause people to love the Father and not God only.  Yes, it can point people to God, cause people to wonder about God and make people love God.  But then, in order to do that we do not need Jesus Christ, His Way, His Life and His Truth, to show us.  Any prophet with miraculous powers of the calibre of Moses and Elijah can do that.  That is exactly what the false signs, wonders and even miracles of the false prophet will do and are designed to do.  They will point people to God so that he can appoint himself as God.

They will cause people to wonder what they believe about God and what they hold to be true in their dogmatic doctrines and religions so that those who do not know their God will not resist him, but will be bribed by his rewards to accept him.  And his so-called miracles will be betrayed by a lack of hope, and not only a lack of hope, but have missing as their key ingredient, mercy and compassion.  For his great sign, that of calling down fire from Heaven, had been done by Elijah.  And when Elijah did that, 102 men died without a chance, for they were merely doing what an evil king commanded them to do, that is, escort Elijah to see him.  Now see the words of Elijah who said, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from Heaven and consume you and your fifty men!”[16] 

Jesus is not a man of God, not even the man of God, no, far beyond that—He is THE Son of God!  Any man can claim to be a prophet of God with a message from God, and prophets come and go, each one being judged good or bad by their fruits.  Balaam was a prophet of God, but he sold out for silver and gold.  The false prophet is a man of God for he is a prophet of God, but like Balaam he will sell out, except for a higher price and a greater ambition – to possess the Earth and all that is in it by double crossing Satan and the beast after he helps them stop Jesus from arriving and putting His feet on the Mount of Olives.  His signs, wonders and miracles may point to the spiritual realm to cause people to wonder about God and even hope for a miracle from God, Jesus’ God, but they do not reveal Jesus’ Father.

An example of a sign that has been disturbing many people in recent decades is the sign of laughter, the so-called ‘laughing revival’.  Some say it is God, others say it is not.  Who is right and how can you tell?  Firstly, do not throw the baby out with the bath water, but do what Jesus said you are to do:  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”[17]  The temptation of either judging or casting your lot in with sinners and missing what is real!

There is a place for laughter, yes, in the Holy Spirit, and behaving as if you are drunk from the joy of the experience, just like the disciples did in front of the crowd in Acts 2:1-13, causing some observers to say, “They have had too much wine.”[18]  Now look at the reason and the purpose of that behaviour, which drew that comment.  By the way, read Acts 2 and you will see it is not written that they were laughing, but rather, the people, the crowd, said, “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”[19]  Yes, I concede some may have been laughing, but whom?  Perhaps the people watching, for they made a mockery of the scene, and maybe even some of the disciples, though it is not written.  Let us assume that those preachers of the laughing revival are correct in what is the reason and purpose.

For in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit caused signs to happen that drew and pointed the way for the crowd to go to the house with the upper room, as they heard the sound like the blowing of a violent wind that came from Heaven and the disciples themselves saw the sign of tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them,[20] and all of them experienced the wonder of being filled with the Holy Spirit and miraculously began to speak in new languages.  Languages they had never learned or studied, for the tongues is a miracle for a disciple as he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit to speak in new languages that you have neither studied nor learnt before instantly, with others native to that language understanding you; that is a miracle.  That was why they were overjoyed and were declaring the wonders of God in their new languages in the hearing of the Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, visitors from Rome[21] and so on.  And to the listeners in the crowd, they were filled with wonder at the sight and sound causing them to ask, “What does this mean?”[22] so that they too heard the Gospel and could receive the miracle of salvation as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Reason and purpose:  Jesus is the Truth, allowing Peter to declare to the Jews not the God of Moses, but the Father of Jesus, as he said, “Exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”[23] 

For me, what is missing in Peter’s preach are these words:  “Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  You see, regardless of whether there was laughter, the reason and the purpose was that the sign, the wonder and the miracle pointed out the Father Jesus revealed.

I compare this with what I saw one day as I watched a laughing evangelist approach a man in a wheelchair, with his “Ha! Ha! Ha!” but then to see him walk past that man without touching him, much less laying hands and praying for him, to lay hands on two perfectly healthy looking pastor types sitting one row behind the man in the wheelchair, and imparting the ‘anointing’ on them so that both of them fell out of their chairs laughing, whilst the man in the wheelchair was still stuck in his wheelchair.  What was there to laugh about?  What was the purpose and reason?  Was spiritual power revealed?  Yes.  Was the presence of God revealed?  Yes.  But was God the Father, the One whom Jesus said alone is good, was He revealed?  No!  For which good father would leave his crippled child crippled, to go and tickle two healthy children to give them a good laugh?  It is a cruel father who does that, not the Father of Jesus Christ of Nazareth!  It was a sign, yes.  It was a wonder, yes.  Miracle?  No.  And the reason and purpose?  You tell me.

Now, if that evangelist’s laying hands on those two healthy people causing them to laugh also caused the cripple to jump up and run, that would be different.  Funny thing is this; I have never seen the paraplegics and quadriplegics jump up and run under the ‘anointing’ as they call it, only healthy people!  So, is there a proper place for this laughter to revive a person?  Yes, when a depressed person laughs – one you know is depressed.  Were people laughing when Jesus was ministering?  Of course; there were two types of people, ones who laughed at Jesus and mocked Him, and the ones who laughed because of Jesus and praised Him.

Do you not think that John the Baptist’s disciples did not see and hear people laughing joyfully, gleefully and wildly when they came to Jesus in Luke 7:20?  Of course they did.  They saw the blind laughing at what they could now see and the lame running on their new legs.  It must have been pandemonium! 

You see, when the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear and the dead are raised at the preaching of the Gospel, then there should be laughter and the reason and purpose are proper.  But when a group of Christians who want to be blessed start laughing while the blind remain blind, the lame remain lame, etc, then my friends, it is a sign alright.  It is a sign that all is not well.

So, have no fear of signs, wonders and miracles, be they false or real, but praise God, it is time for signs, wonders and miracles again, and the sons and daughters who know their Father and their God will never be shaken or deceived.  Amen.  Remember:  “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!”[24]


 

[1] Exodus 34:6-7

[2] Mark 14:61

[3] Luke 4:36

[4] Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2

[5] Matthew 26:63

[6] 1 Corinthians 13:13

[7] Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:35; 10:52; Luke 8:48; 18:42

[8] Colossians 1:27

[9] Mark 16:2-3

[10] John 20:16-17

[11] Revelation 21:22

[12] 1 Peter 3:19-20

[13] Jude 6

[14] Revelation 19:20; 21:10,14; 21:8 & 22:15  Note:  The cowardly, the unbelieving and the vile are the three groups who refuse to call on the Name of the Lord before the Great White Throne Judgement of Revelation 20:11-13 at Zephaniah 3:9

[15] 1 Corinthians 2:8

[16] 2 Kings 1:10, 12

[17] Matthew 26:41

[18] Acts 2:13

[19] Acts 2:11

[20] Acts 2:2-3

[21] Acts 2:8-10

[22] Acts 2:12

[23] Acts 2:33

[24] Luke 21:28

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