Near the conclusion of John’s book that he wrote about Jesus, he gives his readers an insight into the purpose he had in writing it:
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31, NIV)
It is clear that John wanted whoever happened to get their hands on his book to believe in Jesus. Actually, not just believe in Jesus but believe that he was the Messiah (the coming king that the Old Testament spoke of) and the Son of God. He does not want his readers to conclude that Jesus was merely a good person or an excellent teacher. Nor does he want them to think that Jesus was a great prophet or someone that established a new religion.
John, in spending three full years with Jesus had come to this conclusion about who Jesus was. He saw that knowing Jesus and who he was changes everything – in believing one experiences a new kind of life.
Clearly John had a lot of material to choose from when it came time for him to put down on paper what he wanted to say about Jesus. He chose to include only a handful of Jesus’ miracles. Let’s take a brief look at some of the signs:
Turning Water into Wine (John 2:1-11): Jesus does not just turn water into wine, it is great wine. This proved that Jesus had power over creation. He has the ability to make new things and to make things qualitatively better.
Destruction and restoration of Jesus’ body (John 2:13-25): During a time when there was much activity and movement at the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus shows his anger over the fact that it had become a place of corruption whereas it was intended to be a place where people connected with God. Jesus then predicts that his body (which he also calls “temple”) would be destroyed, but that it would be repaired and restored in three days’ time. His prediction of his own resurrection shows that Jesus has power over time.
Healing the Nobleman’s Son (John 4:46-54): A man holding a high political office has a son who is sick and about to die. He departs his town and heads out to where Jesus is and asks him to please come to his town in order to heal his son. Jesus did not go see the boy, he declared him healed right there on the spot. This shows that Jesus has power over space.
Healing the Lame Man (John 5:1-15): Jesus encounters a man who had been paralyzed and unable to walk for 38 years. Jesus, simply says to the man “pick up your mat and walk” and he immediately was able to walk again! In this miracle, Jesus shows his ability to heal life-long uncurable diseases. He also shows there is power in his words.
Feeding the Multitude (John 6:1-15): This is a well-known miracle where a large crowd had gathered to listen to Jesus’ teachings, but they found themselves in a tough spot as they were all hungry and too far from town to walk back before it was dark. With a couple of fish and loaves of bread, the entire crowd – at least 5,000 in number – were fed, and there was a lot left over as well. Similar to the water into wine miracle, here we see that Jesus has power over creation. In the former one the emphasis was on Jesus’ power to alter the quality of things, yet here we see an emphasis on Jesus’ power to alter the quantity of things.
Raising Lazarus (John 11:1-44): Jesus receives news that his friend Lazarus had died. Arriving to the town where Lazarus lived, Jesus receives news that he had been buried four days before. Jesus then raises Lazarus from the dead. This showed that Jesus has power over death and life. Or course we know that Jesus again showed this power by raising himself from the dead.
There are other miracles recorded in the book of John as well as in the other Gospels. Just in the ones mentioned here, we see that Jesus has power over creation, time, space, death, life, and disease!
It is interesting that John uses the word “sign” to describe each of the miraculous acts of Jesus and not “miracle.” To John, the miracles were not just mere tricks or displays of power for the purpose of show. They were signs that pointed to something. Sings that served as a signal showing that Jesus was truly God.
But miracles are not the only “signs” used by John to show that Jesus was all that he said he was. At the beginning of his gospel he presents John the Baptist. Verses 29-30 of chapter one state:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”
John the Baptist was himself merely a sign that was used to point towards Jesus Christ.
We too, are to be “signs” and Jesus himself said that others would come to know about God according to how we speak and act here on earth.
Questions to consider:
Do I believe that Jesus had power to perform miracles?
How can I be a sign which points others towards Jesus?
For further reading: Article: The Credibility of Jesus’ Miracles, by Craig Blomberg Book: The Seven Signs: Seeing the Glory of Christ in the Gospel of John, by Anthony Selvaggio