“Power is the rate at which work is done” (The Physics Classroom, 2016).
“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” (Psalm 63:2, NIV)
When I teach Sunday School, I love to incorporate science lessons whenever I can. These lessons stem from physics, biology, physiology, and other disciplines, and I love teaching kids how the world God made works in orderly ways that reflect His character. Many of the children I teach are “front pew kids” like I was at their age, and they have heard the story “Jesus Walks on Water” so many times the meaning of this story has lost its depth. They already know that when I start with, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat…” I will tell about a storm, frightened disciples, Peter almost sinking, and end with, “…’why did you doubt?'” But telling this story with bobbers, rocks, a tub of water, and a physics lesson on density and flotation makes them think about Jesus’ wave-walking in a different light.
Recently, I’ve been teaching on several themes that start with “Jesus has power over…”. The lessons focus on miracles Jesus performed while He was alive – miracles that not only benefited people physically but also glorified God and revealed Jesus’ power. So when we had a review session, I made a graphic (see above) that uses the definition of power in the field of physics (Power = work/time) that the kids could color and use as a Bible bookmark or whatever. I explained to them that Power is directly related to “Work” (the amount of force carried over a distance) and is indirectly related to “Time” (time).
Jesus was carrying out God’s work on this earth. He was the embodiment of God – God represented no longer as pillars of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21), a terrifying figure within the holiest place of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:22), or even a whispering voice (1 Kings 19:12-13). He was a working-class man of a certain height and a certain weight that got splinters in his fingers and sawdust in his hair. But when He performed miracles, when He taught with authority, when He called people out for what they were thinking, He was displaying His power. He was performing extraordinary works in the blink of an eye. According to the P = w/t equation, an enormous amount of work done in an infinitesimally short amount of time yields a ginormous amount of power. You could even say that no time passed at all, that t=0, despite the fact that division by 0 is (for all practical purposes) impossible. But, to quote Jesus, “Everything is possible with God.“
When Jesus commanded Lazarus – a man who had been dead for four days (definitely “all dead” and in no way “mostly dead“) – to come out of his tomb, Lazarus emerged from his crypt to the astonishment of his sisters and friends (John 11:14-45).
When Jesus told a paralyzed man to stand, take his mat, and go home, the man leaped to his feet and walked out of the room to the ire of teachers of the law (Mark 2:1-12).
When Jesus thanked His Father for the two fish and five loaves brought to Him, He was able to multiply and divide the food to feed 5,000 hungry families gathered to hear Him speak (John 6:1-11). If Jesus was able to feed a man, woman, and child with the equivalent of 6 slices of Sara Lee honey wheat bread, He produced roughly 1,364 loaves of bread in the span of one prayer. It takes me about three hours to bake two loaves of bread at home, if I have all the ingredients on hand.
So Jesus HAS the power – gargantuan, super-colossal, humongous power – that overshadows the power of man. True, people can do exceptional things: write operas, cure diseases, fly to the moon, give birth to a child, forgive when offended, and love when hated. But these things take time, effort, and energy for mankind while they take a snap of the fingers to God. They are but tiny expressions of God’s creativity, intelligence, and strength. They are merely the results when the creatures made in God’s image explore the potential God gave them.
The Physics Classroom. (2016). Power. Retrieved from http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/energy/Lesson-1/Power.