John 3:1-5 The power of God is manifested in those who are wise and pure at heart
John 3:1-5 The power of God is manifested in those who are wise and pure at heart
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:1-5
We can see in this episode a rare interaction between a truth seeking Pharisee and Jesus. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night convinced by the miracles that He is divine. However, this scene presents a contrast: Jesus, who was unknown, unaffiliated with the Jewish circles, came performing miracles,… and the Jews, who despite having the establishment of traditions and resources behind them, can do no miracles. Nicodemus, having made the connection between miracles and God’s kingdom came seeking for the truth. Indeed, Jesus’s teachings differed with traditional Jewish beliefs. The key contention between Judaism and the gospel of Jesus concerns the posture of the heart. Unless one is born again in truth and purity, he cannot enter God’s kingdom and experience the miraculous therein. But the Jews having hardened their hearts, hide behind a wall of hypocrisy, and deprive themselves of the divine authority to do God’s work. In today’s devotion, we learn that the power of God is manifested in those who are wise and pure at heart.
Who are the Pharisees?
Who are the Pharisees? Of the three major religious societies of Judaism at the time of the New Testament (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes), the Pharisees are often the most vocal and influential. The name Pharisee in its Hebrew form means separatists, or the separated ones who areloved of God. It is extremely ironic in view of the fact that at that time, they have made themselves the most bitter, and deadly, opponents of Jesus Christ and His message.
“… for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Nicodemus came to Jesus convinced by the miracles that He is a man of God. Indeed, the miracles that Jesus did gave Him credence to preach with authority.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus, having heard Nicodemus’s confession seized the opportunity to teach the truth about God’s kingdom. Nicodemus was bewildered at Jesus’s words as the concept of rebirth is foreign to Jewish beliefs. Nicodemus was thrown off by the notion of entering a second time into his mother’s womb and be born. For he really thought that he has to literally crawl back into his mother’s womb and be born! Seeing Nicodemus’s bewilderment, Jesus clarified by using familiar metaphors of water and the Spirit: “Unless one is born of water and theSpirit”. As water is what the Jews used for purification rituals,… born of water symbolises the cleansing action of the Spirit resulting in new birth. In due course, man’s core desires are transformed to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. “Born again” means starting anew, being birthed from heaven while possessing a kingdom vision and a heavenly mentality. Indeed, unless one is born again, he cannot experience the miraculous in God’s kingdom.
Supernatural signs instil faith in the supernatural God
The miracles that Jesus did differentiated Him from all the other teachers. Nicodemus said concerning Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Indeed, miracles attest to Jesus and his message as divine. Through miracles, we come to recognise that God is in our midst and actively reaching out to us. Nicodemus came to Jesus not because of the teachings, but because he saw the miracles. For only through divine power can sicknesses be healed, and curses destroyed giving hope to the helpless. That said, miraculous signs serve three purposes:
a. Miraculous signs cause a dramatic shift in mindset from the natural to the spiritual. Without miracles, people continue to depend on natural resources as opposed to divine resources to live life. Divine manifestations challenge people’s worldview to look beyond the physical into the spiritual, from the temporal to the eternal and from worldly to divine wisdom.
b. Miraculous signs lend credence to the messenger and his message as divine. When a message is accompanied by a miraculous sign, people heed it as being divinely inspired. Thus they begin to perceive the messenger as possessor of divine wisdom, the answer to eternal life. In a sense, miracles when used wisely keep the people focused on God, and respond to the message of repentance.
c. Miracles instil faith to believe that nothing is impossible. Most people, because of their challenges live in despair and are resigned to a life of hopelessness. They have been conditioned to see life through the lens of inextricable suffering which only by divine intervention can they transcend. Through miracles the gospel is perceived as that divine intervention to transcend the life of continual struggle. For many, miracles begin for them a journey of faith towards an abundant life.
Therefore, believers must seek to take authority over all things. And that all things are indeed possible to him who believe. When believers are conformed to the image of Christ by living out His virtues and power daily, the gospel will no longer be mere philosophy, powerless against the tide of suffering. Indeed, the gospel, to be effective must be accompanied by divine power. Jesus said to His disciples,
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:15-18
The power of God is manifested in those who are wise and pure at heart
Without doubt, the omnipotence of God rest in those who are pure at heart, and who are wise. Purity and wisdom are the foundations of divine power to do God’s work. Jesus operated with divine authority because He is the source of wisdom and purity. And He sanctifies the church by the washing of water with the word (see Ephesians 5:26). Washing of water results in purity, and the word gives wisdom.
Jesus gave authority to the seventy disciples who returned with joy saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Luke 10:17). And Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” Luke 10:21.
Infants are portrayed as pure, innocent and without guile. But He referred to the Jewish leaders as the wise and intelligent, the brood of vipers, filled with evil passions. While God withholds “these things”: the secrets to possessing divine authority from the wise and intelligent, He grants “these things” to the infants to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (see Luke 10:19). As we all know: power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, God grants a measure of authority according to one’s ability to remain pure even in the face of temptations. Jesus, despite possessing all authority, forgave the people who nailed Him to the cross. Because Jesus demonstrated purity, the Father resurrected Him and appointed Him to the highest station of the universe.
Concerning the foundation of divine wisdom: Divine power can only be operated on the premise of divine wisdom. For without wisdom, power becomes meaningless and even destructive. Paul spoke of the power of God that disarmed rulers and principalities as being manifested through the cross (see Colossians 2:15). And Christ crucified is… thepower of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Christ, through divine wisdom chose the way of the cross, the way which resulted in the destruction of the devil’s kingdom. Thus, those who desire to operate in divine power must acquire divine wisdom through the word and walk in it. For God grants to each believer a measure of authority according to his level of wisdom. Nevertheless, God gives wisdom generously to all who ask in humility and obedience (see James 1:5).
Is the supernatural a normal occurrence in your life? In order for one to be considered an effective minister of God, he must possess a pure heart, a wise disposition and divine authority to perform miracles. Many proclaim themselves to be mature and expect others to accord to them with certain authority. But they harbour pride and fleshly ambitions, refusing to submit themselves under human authority preferring to account themselves directly to God. Because God works through the human structure of authority, their rejection of human leadership unwittingly deprive them of greater authority they so craved. Thus, it is important to understand that unless one is subject to human authority through discipleship, he will not be granted divine authority over the angels. Moreover, it is through discipleship that one grows in divine wisdom and virtues. Therefore, let us submit ourselves under the leadership of anointed men and women of pure heart and wise disposition. And God, in His time will grant us greater authority to do His works.
Dear Lord, I make a commitment to walk in purity. Sanctify me with your blood and cleanse me with your word. Grant me divine wisdom to discern your ways. As I humble myself under your Lordship, provide teachers and mentors to help me grow in divine authority. Open my ears and eyes of my heart so that I may see the operation of angels around me. Cause me to walk in divine authority to help establish your kingdom. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.