Sign Miracles: The Gospel of John


Sign Miracles: The Gospel of John

 

INTRODUCTION

The Gospel of John is perhaps the most influential book of the entire Bible.  Its use of metaphors is unparalleled in literature. There are eight significant sign miracles: Water into wine, healing the nobleman’s son, healing the lame man, feeding the multitude, walking on water, sight to the man born blind, raising Lazarus, and Jesus third appearance to the disciples.[1]  Signs are very important in the study of the Bible.  In Luke 11:30-32, “For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.”[2] If we have a full understanding of the signs in the Bible we can better comprehend the intentions of its writers.  The signs miracles in the gospel of John reveal to us the deity of Christ.  This is why the gospel of John is often the book chosen for new believers to start with.  The deity of Christ connects us deeper with an intimate relationship with Christ.  In Jesus first sign miracle, his mother Mary leaves us with the last words we ever read her say, “Do whatever he says.”[3]

WATER INTO WINE

Jesus turned water into wine in His first sign miracle.  It is by no mistake at all that this is the first miracle that Jesus performs.  You find that in each miracle there is a purpose that does not only connect with us of every generation, but of that time as well.  Dr. James C. Martin wrote that libations of wine were commonly poured out to gods, and deities such as Dionysus (the god of wine) had many followers.[4]  So it is very interesting to note that during that age and time, the pagan god Dionysus was celebrated each year with a water into wine ceremony at his temple.  Jesus did not need some special temple and he did it in front of everyone.  This demonstrated his power, that Jesus “changes the water of Judaism into the wine of the richness and the fullness of eternal life in Christ, the water of the law into the wine of the gospel.”[5]  The wine is also believed to be a Messianic salvation sign, Jesus being the way of our salvation.  After this time when Jesus came back after tuning water into wine, Jesus visited Cana in Galilee.  It is here where Jesus performs the second miraculous sign.

HEALING THE NOBLEMAN’S SON

The healing of the nobleman’s son is absolutely amazing because it points directly to the absolute truth that Jesus gives life.  Jesus healed the boy instantaneously, it did not happen later or as a prophecy to the future.  As Jesus told the nobleman, “your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and departed.[6]  I believe that Jesus is also teaching us about coming to Him in faith.  That when we believe in Him in faith, He answers.  After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.[7]

HEALING THE LAME MAN

The healing of the lame man is one that brings to light the issues the Pharisees had with Jesus.  When Jesus told the man to take up his bed roll and walk, this defied the Pharisees.  Leon Morris states in his book, that the miracle was performed on the Sabbath stamped Jesus as an evildoer in the eyes of Pharisaic officialdom. The sign is Jesus’ assertion that he could do on the Sabbath things that the Pharisees could not do. His relationship to God differs from theirs.[8]  Now I have come to also believe that there is also another sign that is developing here in the text.   Christ died on the cross for our sins, so there had to be some discourse in existence that would propel the Sanhedrin to crucify him.  It wasn’t like the Pharisees were not aware of the teachings in the Old Testament, but the held do firmly to them that they couldn’t see the fulfillment of prophecy right in front of them.  After Jesus had healed this man, he saw him later in the temple and told him to go and sin no more.  This man goes directly to the Jews and tells them it was Jesus who healed him. After this, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias).[9]

FEEDING THE MULTITUDE

This miracle is a sign that left crumbs all over the place.  Jesus made all that you see, so it is of no great significance that he made enough bread and fish to feed 5,000 people.  However, he did so out of five barley loaves and two fish.  This miracle appears in all four gospels.  I do think it is important to point out that this miracle included 5,000 people, so that might have something to do with it being in all four gospels. What is interesting to point out is the belief that some thought this suggested Jesus was bringing back manna of old, but he was not.  Jesus is the bread of life.  Morris states, “that it was Jesus who was the source of life, and in one way or another the claim is repeated (6:40, 48, 50, 51).”[10]  As I have stated in previous chapters the Jewish leaders of that day were not in the least convinced by Jesus miracles.  However, this in of itself does not disprove the legitimacy of them. Bernard Ramm listed several reasons for belief in the historical reliability of the miracles: First, there were many miracles performed before the public eye and no effort is made to suppress investigation. Second, some miracles were performed in the company of unbelievers and the presence of critics had no influence on Jesus power. Third, Jesus performed His miracles over a period of time and in great variety and was not limited in his repertory. Fourth, we have the testimony of the cured that frequently is said to have gone proclaiming that he was healed.[11] William Eichhorst said this of Ramms statements, “Unless the whole Gospel record can be proven false, the miracles must be accepted as historically real.”[12]

WALKING ON WATER

When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea of Capernaum.[13]  I picture this miracle like something out of that movie The Perfect Storm.  Here in the midst of this violent and turbulent storm these men see a man walking on water coming towards them.  These men became afraid of this man.  Jesus is the man who had made water into wine and feed thousands with just a few fish and five loaves of bread.  In their darkest hour of despair they show that even they do not recognize Christ, even when He walks to them on water. Jesus simply speaks, “It is I, do not be afraid!”[14]  Jesus has a great sense of humor that is very much to the point as well, because the next day when Jesus was on the other side of the sea when the crowd woke up they went looking for him.  When the crowd found Jesus, he basically told them that you guys are not looking for me because you saw the signs, it is because you are getting hungry and there won’t be a McDonalds around for a long while.  Ok, so He never said the McDonald’s part, but he might as well have, because they were just belly aching.  As I pointed out in Chapter four, Jesus then tells them that, “I am the bread of life!”[15] In the next miracle Jesus reveals to us his deity in the form of the light of the world.

SIGHT TO THE MAN BORN BLIND

The miracle sign of the healing of the man born blind is huge in its significance. While walking with the disciples, they asked Jesus what sin had the man or his parents committed for him to be born blind. Jesus responded, “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”[16]  Jesus made mud out of his saliva and spread it on the man’s eyes, and then the man went and washed them in the pool of Siloam.  The sign here is that Jesus is the light of the world.  In the next miracle we will see how the light of the world will go and wake the dead.

RAISING OF LAZARUS

In this miracle sign we find many amazing things about Jesus.  They did not have computers or cellphones back then.  Jesus once again shows us His ability to know what is going on exactly at the same time in two completely separate places.  Lazarus has died and Jesus knew and told his disciples.  When Jesus went to Martha he tells her the most powerful words, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die – ever. Do you believe this?”[17]  After four days the stone was rolled away and Jesus commanded, “Lazarus, come out!”[18] Jesus has the power over life and death, He is our salvation and He has the power to lay His own life down to save all of ours.  What an irony when you think about the many people who screamed at him on the cross.  God did not have to save Jesus.  Jesus was there to save us! The Pharisees then met with the Sanhedrin where Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation.

JESUS THIRD APPEARANCE TO THE DISCIPLES

The verse prior to this last miracle states that Jesus performed many signs not written in this book, but that they were written so you would believe that he was the Messiah.  It is like John knew how men would be when they read about Jesus and how we would need certain signs more than others to believe in Jesus.  You don’t know anyone like that do you?  Evangelize much?  The disciples were by the sea of Tiberias when Jesus appeared to them for the third time after his death.  The significance is very relevant because there was no doubt; the disciples knew it was the Lord.  Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  This sign is almost like a recall of sorts, where Jesus performs a miracle that resembles the one that led to the original call of several of them.[19]  The power of Jesus has no end.  He is the resurrection and the life.  For in Christ we are saved and through Him we are blessed in His works.

Footnotes


[1]. Leon Morris, Jesus Is the Christ (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 23.

[2]. Ted Cabel, The Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1537.

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. Zondervan, Archaeological Study Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005), 2015.

[5]. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), 176.

[6]. Cabel, The Apologetics Study Bible, 1537.

[7]. Ibid.

[8]. Morris, Jesus Is the Christ, 23.

[9]. Cabel, The Apologetics Study Bible, 1537.

[10]. Morris, Jesus Is the Christ, 23.

[11]. Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidences (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1953), 141.

[12]. William R. Eichhorst, The Gospel Miracles-Their Nature and Apologetic Value, http://www.galaxie.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/article/8452 (accessed September 26, 2011).

[13]. Cabel, The Apologetics Study Bible, 1537.

[14]. Ibid.

[15]. Ibid., 1537.

[16]. Ibid.

[17]. Ibid., 1537.

[18]. Ibid.

[19]. Ibid., 1537.

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