Some people try to tell us that signs and wonders and miracles will cause the unsaved to believe.
At Passover in Jesus' time, famous rabbis would come together and debate. At one particular Passover the rabbi who everybody wanted to see was someone who could feed thousands of people with a little boy's picnic basket, who could walk on water, who could heal the sick and even raise the dead. The people wanted Him to put on a show. They had a “signs and wonders” gospel. They also wanted somebody to get rid of the Romans, the way the Maccabees had gotten rid of the Greeks. They had a “Kingdom Now” gospel. And, if you understand the Hallel Rabbah from Psalm 113 to 118, which they sang to Jesus, they were singing "give us prosperity now." They had a “prosperity” gospel.
These people did not want a Messiah who was going to be a Suffering Servant. They wanted one who was going to make them rich.
Purge the Leaven
Passover begins with the purging of the leaven. Jesus would not put on a show. Instead He purged the leaven. Leaven is a figure of sin, particularly sins of pride, because it puffs up. Pride is the kind of sin that undergirds other kinds of sin. If somebody has a greed problem, for example, their underlying problem is pride. If somebody has a lust problem, their underlying problem is pride. Pride is the sin that underlies other kinds of sin. Pride is also associated with false doctrine. That is why Jesus said, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees". (Mt. 16:6).
The Sanhedrin was responsible for the inspection of lambs at Passover. They checked for up to seventy-four different blemishes. If unable to find a blemish on a lamb, they would approve it for sacrifice. But they perverted the Torah, turning their Levitical role into a business. The religious leaders were twisting the Word of God for their own aggrandizement, exploiting God's people and profiteering on the blood of the lamb.
Instead of getting rid of the Romans, God got rid of them. God is much more concerned with the sin in my life and in your life than He is with the sin in the lives of the unsaved.
Jesus cleaned the moneychangers out of the temple because judgment begins in the house of God. Having cleansed the temple, they brought the lame to Him and He healed them. These signs follow. (Mk. 16:20) Jesus would never allow signs and wonders and miracles to be amplified above repentance.
The same thing happened at Hanukkah, the Jewish feast of miracles, They wanted to stone Him and He said, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" (Jn.10:32).
If signs and wonders are really the key to revival, why did they cry out a few days later, "Crucify Him", when they knew that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and healed the lame and the blind? The prosperity preachers, who claim they have all the miracles, have been around a long time, but no revival has come; rather the Gospel has been disgraced by their scandals.
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymas, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples were therefore saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be with you."
Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed'" (Jn. 20:24-29).
Thomas is a picture of all human doubt. Jesus was manifest to them in the breaking of bread – the bread of His Word. When Jesus rose, He wanted to show them that He was not a spirit, so He physically ate something.
After Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb, He was seen eating with Lazarus (Jn.12:1-2). When He raised the little girl from the dead, He said that something should be given to her to eat (Mk.5:43). Spiritual bodies do not need to eat, so the Bible uses the idea of somebody eating after being resurrected to show that it is physical resurrection. Jesus was identifiable: not at first, but He was recognized in the breaking of bread. He was able to do things like walk through walls. That teaches something about our future. What happened to Him, will happen to us.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruit of those who are asleep (1 Co.15:20).
When the high priest was out in the Kidron Valley at sunrise on the first day of the week after Passover, he had to bring the first of the grain offering up through the East Gate into the temple. All four gospels tell us that Jesus rose at sunrise, at the very time when the high priest was bringing in the first fruit. Jesus was the first fruit of the resurrection. Our resurrection and His are the same event, only He is the first, so His resurrection teaches about ours. Moses, Jesus and Elijah were transfigured together. Elijah – a man who never died (he was raptured), Moses – somebody who did die, and Jesus.
That is what overthrew Pagan Rome. It is a terrible tragedy of history that Papal Rome became no better than Pagan Rome afterwards but, nonetheless, the early Christians overthrew the power of Pagan Rome. Tertullian said, "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." These people loved not their lives unto death. Paul wrote to the Romans quoting from Psalm 44, "For Thy sake, O Lord, we are being put to death all day long."
The Apostle Paul
What was the proof of Paul's anointing as an apostle? Was it all the churches he planted, all the people who were saved, the fact that he could stand up and debate famous rabbinic leaders and win the debates? No, that was not his proof. It was not even the miracles, including raising someone from the dead (Acts 20). None of that was the proof of his anointing. The proof of his anointing was this – "I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus" (Gal. 6:17). He used the Greek word “stigmata”, which gives us the English word "stigmatize." He was willing to be accursed in his flesh in a visible way for the sake of Christ.
My wife is a Romanian Jew. Her parents are Holocaust survivors. They suffered under the Nazis and narrowly escaped with their lives. Most of the family was killed. Then they suffered under the Communists. My wife grew up as a "Refusnik" and immigrated to Israel when she was eleven years old.
Ceausescu was a terrible, evil man, but the church grew in Romania. Revivals happened among Gypsies and people who had previously been unconvertible. Many Jewish people were saved. Richard and Sabena Wurmbrand (Voice of the Martyrs) came out of that Jewish community. So many of the believers we know in Israel were Jews from Romania. What made the church in a country like that grow? What did people see to make them believe? They saw a crucified body that had been resurrected.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal. 2:20).
They did not just parrot the words. The revolt in Romania that overthrew Ceausescu began in the place that had the highest concentration of evangelical Christians in Romania.
I have met many Christians who lived in the power of the resurrection. I have met many Messianic Jews who live in the power of the resurrection. I remember about ten years ago in Israel, while the Iron Curtain was still standing and very few Jews were able to get out of Russia to come to Israel. Some did and some of these were believers who were saved in underground Pentecostal and Baptist churches.
"Jesus Loves You"
I remember one brother who had a wife and five children. He had been some kind of a leader in one of the underground churches. The KGB imprisoned him for years. His family, at certain times, did not know if he was dead or alive. The KGB beat him repeatedly and tortured him, but he would not deny his faith. They gave him psychotropic drug injections in large quantities, intravenously and electro-shock treatment repeatedly. He is only a middle-aged man but he looks like a very old man because of what they did to him.
He is in Israel now. He is a Jew. His wife leads him around by the hand. There is only one phrase he can say; it is the only thing he ever says: "Jesus loves you."
They gave him electro-shock torture, they gave him psychotropic drugs, they tried to destroy his faith in Jesus the Messiah. But that was the one thing they could not destroy. They destroyed his life in this world, they destroyed his mind and his health. They destroyed everything, but his faith in Jesus. That man has a crucified body that walks and lives in the power of the resurrection.
My wife and myself are very privileged to be the friends of a Jewish woman from Hungary who was a second generation Jewish believer, Rose Warmer.
During World War II, Rose had an opportunity to escape from Hungary. The Lord spoke to her directly and said, "No, I want you to go to the Gestapo and turn yourself in as a Jew." She did. Very few people, either Jews or Gypsies, survived Auschwitz. She is one of the very few who did. What happened to her in Auschwitz was unspeakable. They were taking Jewish women by the thousands and thousands every day, stripping them, shaving their heads, pulling their teeth out, gassing them, and then putting them in ovens.
She volunteered for that. When she went to be with the Lord there were a lot of other people waiting for her, a number of those Jewish women who were gassed to death, who heard the Gospel of the Messiah Jesus from a Jew who believed it, before they died. Rose Warmer had a crucified life. That woman had a crucified body that lived in the power of the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah.
I have known people like that. Many of them suffered for their faith. Many, not all. I have known many Christians like that, godly people. It is usually not the guy with the big mouth, like me, it is usually the little old lady who washes the church steps, who fasts and prays every day. It is usually people like that. I have known a lot of people like that over the years. They stand out. I can point to this one and to that one. You can see them. But there is a big difference between seeing individual Christians and a crucified body.
We are the body of Christ. When the world sees us as a crucified body that has been resurrected, they will listen to our message and respond.
Jesus' death is ours. His resurrection is ours. The world is skeptical about us and our message, and they are going to become more skeptical. What is the solution? Prayer, of course. The preaching of the Gospel, absolutely! But there is only one thing that is going to put this nation back on the track to real revival. There is only one thing that is going to make this hardened nation reconsider the claims of Jesus. It will not be some confidence trickster from America with big rings and a fancy limousine telling them that God wants them rich. It will not be people behaving like lunatics in some Toronto church. Their weird behavior will prevent people from believing. What will make them believe is when we have a response to their request, "Show me a body that has been crucified and resurrected. Let me see."
Paul could say, "Here!"
Rose Warmer could say, "Here!"
Richard Wurmbrand could say, "Here!"
A crucified body is where each and every one of us can stand up and say, "Here!"
Show Me Jesus
Richard Wurmbrand is a Jewish believer. He is a friend of my wife; they speak to each other in Romanian. He tells about a Romanian peasant who had been saved and imprisoned and tortured by the Communists for his faith.
There was also a scientist from the Academy of Science in Bucharest, who was not a Communist. He did not believe in God, he was just a scientist who was not a Communist, so they put him in prison and they tortured him. There was a small room with maybe forty people living in it, teetering on the brink of starvation, everyone of them having been beaten repeatedly. The Romanian peasant, who was not an educated man, was going around witnessing to the other people who were dying with him. Wurmbrand was there. The scientist, who had been a prominent intellectual, began mocking the peasant. He said to him, "How can you be happy? How can you say you have joy when this is happening to you? You don't even know if they have killed your family." Every day they carried out two or three dead bodies, and each of them wondered whether they would be next. "Why are you happy?" The peasant said, "I've told you many times, I am happy because of Jesus."
Remember Jeremiah? Jeremiah had a delight. He could not sit in the circle of merrymakers, but he still had joy. The scientist said, "Jesus! You are happy because of Jesus! Do you see Jesus?" "Oh, yes, I see him every day," replied the peasant.
"Do you talk to Jesus?"
"Oh, yes, I talk to Jesus every day."
"Does Jesus talk back to you?"
"Oh, yes, He talks to me every day."
"What does Jesus do? Does He ever smile at you?"
"Oh yes, Jesus smiles at me."
"Show me how He looks when He smiles."
And the peasant said, "Like this." And the Shekinah glory came over the face of this peasant. The scientist fell down on the floor and began pounding his fists on the floor and said, "You have seen Jesus Christ." And he became a believer.
We are living in the days of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22): a lukewarm church that is proud, materialistic and oblivious to its true state.
Laodicea's first problem is that it does not know that it is Laodicea. It does not realize that it is lukewarm. It thinks that, because it is well-off materially and financially, it is well-off spiritually, but it is not. There is a faithful remnant in Laodicea. Jesus says, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous, therefore, and repent". (Revelation 3:19). I want Him to correct the things that are wrong in me, because when He comes, I want to be ready.
"Here It Is!"
Toronto is not going to bring revival. Kansas City could not bring revival. Jim Challenge could not bring revival. The “Decade of Harvest” did not bring revival. None of that stuff brought revival.
These people do not believe any more. They are too skeptical. And, to tell you the truth, when I look at some of the things going on in the name of Christianity today, I do not blame them. If I was not already saved, I would be very skeptical.
"Show me. Let me see. Show me, then I will believe. Let me see a body that has been crucified and resurrected, then I will believe."
They are going to believe when we can say, "Here it is!"