Signs

I’m starting to get into the Gospel of John.   Not that I’ve never looked at it before, but now I’m really beginning to get into it more deeply.  John’s gospel is different than Matthew, Luke and Mark, the synoptic gospels, in that they were written more as histories of the life of Jesus, with an assumption being made that the readers would be those who already had come to believe in Christ as Messiah.   But John’s gospel is something very different altogether.  It’s not that there is no history in John, there is plenty of the history of the life of Jesus in the Gospel of John.  But John is writing not to those who already believe, but to those who do not believe, both then and now.   John’s is very much an evangelistic gospel.  John is writing with a purpose, and he’s as much an artist as he is an evangelist.

I’m going to begin to journey through the Gospel of John, guided by the signs he places in within his gospel account.    John’s gospel originally ended in chapter 20.  He added chapter 21 as an epilogue later on because of some things that had come up.  But originally, John ended his gospel like this.

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.”   John 20:30-31 ESV.

So John tells us at the end of his gospel what he’s been doing throughout.  John places seven signs, seven miracles of Jesus within his gospel, which is in fact very few.   Matthew, especially Mark, and Luke all have far more accounts of Jesus’ miracles than John.   John restricts the number of miracles to seven, which is in itself significant and not accidental, because John knows what he is doing.  He restricts his gospel to seven miracles, but he never uses that word.  He calls them “signs”.  But each of these miracles, which John calls signs, is significant.   Even that word, significant, starts off with the root ‘sign’.   It’s sign-ificant.  John uses seven miracles as signs.  They are important, but not in their own self.   It’s not just telling us Jesus can do stuff.  It’s not just that Jesus can walk in water, Jesus can multiply loaves, Jesus can raise the dead.  John very carefully and artistically selects seven miracles that he calls signs to point us to something.   John uses the seven miracles as signs to guide our faith toward Jesus.   A sign is not significant in itself, but it’s significant because of what it points to.  The sign is not the thing, but it’s what the sign is pointing to or locating or identifying.   For instance, if you see a sign for Yellowstone National Park, or the Grand Canyon, you did not come to see that sign, but you came to find what that sign is directing you to.   The sign itself is not important, but instead the breathtaking beauty you came to see.  But the sign let’s you know you are on the right track, in the right place, and where you need to be.  That’s the value of a sign.

So the important thing, for John, isn’t that Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, or multiplied the loaves and fishes.  The important thing is, what do the signs tell us about Jesus???   How do they form and inform our faith?   John gave us seven signs not just to wow us and show off all these things Jesus could do.   John gave us these signs to point us to Jesus in a right way, so that you will look at Jesus right, so that you will perceive Jesus right.  So that you will believe Jesus in a right way and have life in his name.   Want to have more of the life of Jesus in your life??  Then we need to believe on him in a certain way, and John gives us seven signs to direct our faith to believe right so we can have life in Jesus’ name.

So that’s the plan for the next few weeks.  To let John show us signs that lead us to Jesus so that we can believe and have life in his name.   And so we will start with a wedding in Cana of Galilee…

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.”   John 20:30-31 ESV

John Lewis

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