A study on the sign miracles of Jesus in the book of John.
There was a wedding in the town of Cana that occurred the third day after Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus and His disciples arrived and in the course of things Mary, the mother of Jesus tells Him there is no wine left. This was probably the wedding of a poor family who didn’t have much to begin with. After she telling him about the situation, Jesus appears to have initially rejected her request. There are two views held on this: that either Jesus was showing the importance of being persistent in prayer or that the translation is slightly off and that it should show a more compassionate Jesus, one who says “It’s o.k. You just don’t understand yet what I am about to do”. In any event, Mary tells the servants to do whatever He tells them, and Jesus instructs them servants to fill the ceremonial water pots to the brim with water and then to dip some out and give it to the headwaiter. When they do this, the headwaiter sees that it is a better wine than was already served. Jesus’ deity is shown in His offering something of higher quality – the good wine. Jesus is the good wine.
Later, upon Jesus’ return to Cana, a nobleman whose son is gravely ill in the city of Capernaum approached him. The nobleman pleads with Jesus to come and heal the boy. Jesus seemingly stalls, making reference to people not believing but for signs and wonders. When the man urges Him again, He then tells the man to go, his son has been healed. The nobleman goes on his way back to Capernaum in faith and is soon met on the road by his servants who tell him his son was healed the very same hour Jesus had spoken it. This shows Jesus’ power over not only sickness and death as Jehovah Rapha, but over distance or space, as Jehovah Shammah. He shows He can effect healing without physically being there.
After this, Jesus goes up to Jerusalem to attend a feast. Jesus sees a sick man who was lying at the pool of Bethesda, waiting for an angel to come stir up the water. According to the people’s tradition, whenever the water is disturbed, the first to get to the water would be healed. When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be healed, instead of answering Jesus, the man tells Him he cannot be healed because he has no one to get him down to the water in time. The man has no hope, completely discouraged. At this point, Jesus tells the man to get up, pick up his bed, and go. This healing is different from the first two miracles. The first two involve persistence of faith on the part of the requestor while this time, Jesus steps in where there is no hope. This is done to show not only Jesus’ control over sickness, but also as One who exercises power over time. What this man could not make happen in within time, Jesus caused to occur without regard to time restrictions.
The next of the sign miracles is the feeding of the five thousand. Near the Passover, Jesus is on a mountain speaking to His Disciples and when He looks up, he sees a huge crowd coming to Him. He challenges the disciples faith by asking where they will buy bread for all these people. The disciples find the test overwhelming. Andrew, even though seeing the raw materials Jesus will use, fails to look to Him as being able to provide. This miracle is done to show Jesus as the Creator, Elohim. It shows Him as sufficiency where a deficiency exists, in this instance, over an inadequate food supply. It shows Jesus’ power over quantity. Jesus never has to turn away those who come to Him, no matter how many; He is sufficient to meet all of our needs.
After this, the people wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him their King. Jesus leaves them and goes again to the mountain to be alone. As evening comes, the disciples go ahead of Him by boat to Capernaum. A fierce storm rises up. After having rowed for nine hours, the disciples see Jesus walking towards them on the water, which frightens them. As soon as He enters the boat, they immediately land where they are going. All this is done to show Jesus’ power over nature.
Next, Jesus heals a man born blind. As the disciples are passing by the man, they ask Jesus whether it was the man or his parents who had sinned, causing his blindness. Jesus said, neither, that he is blind for the revealing of God’s works in him. Just as He may have done to create Adam, Jesus makes clay out of spittle and dirt and applies it to the man’s eyes, bringing life to what was dead. Again though, as he so often does, Jesus requires faith from this man to complete the work. He tells him to go to the pool of Siloam to wash off the dirt. The man goes, washes, and receives his sight. Again, this shows Christ’s Deity in that he shows Himself to be Master over misfortune and also, that Jesus has power over time. This miracle is unique in that it is done solely out of compassion for the man.
After the Feast of Dedication (Lights), Jesus goes away to a place beyond the Jordan to escape the Jews who seek to kill Him in Jerusalem. While He and the disciples are there, word eventually comes from Mary and Martha that Lazarus, his friend, is sick. Now, when He gets word, Jesus says that the sickness isn’t to death, but to show the Glory of God and to Glorify Him. Jesus stays two days after He gets the initial word and then decides to go to Lazarus. This is done to allow Lazarus time to die. Jesus explains the reason for this by stating He was glad He wasn’t there so that the disciples might believe. By the time Jesus gets to where they had buried Lazarus, he has been in the tomb four days. Jesus tells them to roll away the stone. Again faith is called upon as Jesus reminds them that if they will believe, they will see the Glory of God. Jesus’ power over death is what they see, when after a short prayer to the Father, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, still wrapped in the grave clothes they had laid Him in.
Finally, and most importantly is the Resurrection. On the first day of the week after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene goes out to the to tomb and finds the stone rolled away and His body gone. After going back to the house to get the disciples, Peter and John race to the tomb, only to find Jesus’ grave clothes, but not Jesus. Finally, as Mary stands outside by herself later, she looks into the tomb two see two angels who ask her why she is crying. After answering them, she turns to see Jesus Himself. Here we see Jesus’ ultimate defeat of and power over sin and death, in that He laid down His life, and had power to take it back up again. Here he shows His Eternality.
He is El Olam, the Everlasting God.
1. The New Scofield Study Bible New King James Version Ed. C.I. Scofield, D.D. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989.
2. Merrill C. Tenney John: The Gospel of Belief An Analytical Study of the Text William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997
3. William Barclay The Gospel of John Volumes 1 & 2 The Westminster Press Philadelphia, 1956