John 20:30-31 - "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
Have you ever had something wonderfully strange happen to you, when all the stars align through total "coincidence"? And it's so strange you know it can't be a coincidence; it must be what's called a "sign" in today's Bible verses.
A "sign" is something that only God can arrange and pull off, and God does it so that we'll "believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31) In other words, when something wonderfully strange happens to you, God's arranging it and pulling it off to give and strengthen faith in Jesus. And note that God's word says that God is seeking to strengthen our faith in who Jesus is moreso than what Jesus does! "Jesus is the Christ," and believing that Jesus is the Christ, believing in who he is, is the way God chooses to give us "life in his name." (John 20:30-31) In sum, as great as God's wonderful signs and deeds are, God does them not so we'll look for more signs and deeds but in order to get us to look for him!
Let me give you an example. The night before a friend of mine and I strangely wound up at the same breakfast table on the anniversary of the death of both our fathers to pray for a sister in Christ whose mom had just died, I was driving from the church to one of our neighborhood groups. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I noticed what I came to discover were two $20 bills just lying there on the ground. God told me, plain as day, who to give one $20 bill to at the group that I was right then going to attend. When I got there and gave it to them, they basically started crying because they said that $20 was going to be the gas money they needed to get to work and that they'd just literally been praying for. Coincidence? Well, you can believe what you want, but both those people who needed the gas money and also I myself chose to believe that it was a sign from God that, if we'll just have what the world sees as a radical faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, then God will miraculously provide for us. (By the way, the other $20 wound up being part of the money that God obviously provided for us to buy food for their poor next door neighbor whose mom had just died!)
Notice that I did NOT say that, if we'll trust God to provide, then we'll see that Jesus is the Christ. That's what Jesus was talking to Thomas about when Thomas believed because he'd seen a miracle instead of believing in Jesus so he could see the miracle of life in Jesus' name. God's plan is for us to believe in who Jesus is more than we believe in what Jesus does miraculously. In other words, God wants us to fall in love with him moreso than falling in love with his signs and wonders and miracles because the power for our lives and the greatest miracle of all is the life-giving relationship with God through Jesus, which is why today's verse ends with "that by believing you may have life in his name."
So! Is something lacking in your life? Don't look for a miracle; instead look to Jesus. Is something wrong in your life? Don't look for a miracle; instead look to Jesus. The power of God is in Jesus who does the miracles, not in the miracles that are done by Jesus.
Hunh? Maybe that's why I saw another wonderfully strange thing a couple days ago. I saw two families who both are really struggling financially though they work as hard as anybody. And both these families said that, though they've never been poorer financially and struggled so much, they both volunteered that they've rededicated themselves to tithing, to giving the first ten percent of their income to spreading the good news of Jesus in partnership with our church. Why? Because they both have discovered, in their financial poverty, an immeasurable wealth in the person of Jesus, that he truly "is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31)
In sum, God is eager to do physical miracles, as our church experiences regularly, like another person recently who was physically healed of knee and back pain. But as great as those miracles are, God does them to bring us to the greatest miracle, which is the miracle of Almighty God giving us himself, dwelling in our very bodies through Jesus Christ, so that the presence and wisdom and power of God's Holy Spirit can fill and flow through our lives to all the world with the Abundant Life for which every person yearns, now and forevermore!
I know it's a lot to think about. Nevertheless, think about it! Even better, believe it; believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31)
"The gospel is the story of Jesus [what God's only Son has done for us that we can't do for ourselves], spoken as a promise." - Robert Jenson