John's Gospel: Signs

Significance of the signs within John's Gospel and key quotes


Significance of Signs in general

  • There are seven signs (perfect number) which best suit John's christiological purpose
  • The term 'Semeia' is used by John whereas the term 'Dunameis'- (act of mighty work) is used by the synoptic writers. The term Erga is used by Jesus to talk about his own miracles.
  • John was interested in the significance of the act rather than the event itself.
  • John's intention was to 'link Jesus fundamentally with the father' (Jesus was sent by God) Intended for people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Belief leads to eternal life.
  • Signs gave rise to conflict and controversy.

Introduction quote:

  • Kysar-" John's Gospel along with the biblical tradition affirms that faith arises from contact with a sensually perciptible object"
  • Barrett stated that there are, "clear indications that he was the Son of God and equal to God"

Conclusion: Through these signs we can establish that Jesus was the Son of God, sent to replace Judaism and save humanity. He has come to grant the people with eternal happiness with God. Signs were seen as "manifestations of power authenticiated by God."

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Wedding at Cana

  • "three days later", an inevitable image of Jesus' resurrection.
  • Jesus' mother noticed that they ran out of wine, she told Jesus and he said, " woman (Eve), my hour has not yet come"- signifying that his death is near. He reluctantly turns the water into wine.
  • 6 stone water jars= "the sixth day" indicating Jesus' crucifixion. Also referring to the incompleteness of Judaism, the number 7 represents perfection, Jesus brings perfection.
  • Russell argued that they represent creation of Adam+Eve. But Sanders and Mastin suggest that, "there isn't any significance there were just six"- believing that scholars over analysed the Wedding at Cana.
  • Water to wine shows that Jesus came to save them with the best, eternal life and salvation. Jesus has come to replace Judaism with a new way of life through him, replacement theology.
  • Wine reminds us of Last Supper, there are Eucharistic Overtones, Jesus' blood=Wine
  • Jesus=True Bridegroom, replacement theology. In OT God=Bridegroom.
  • Jesus=God's Son, "Let his glory be seen"
  • Disciples had faith in his ability.
  • water of Judaism inadequate for salvation, Christ's blood route to eternal happiness with God. Aston, "this inspires a faith of transformation and celebration"
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Healing of the Nobleman's son

  • Jesus' ministry is universal, accepting gentiles, "sheep that aren't part of his fold."
  • Focus is on death, "my son is close to death."
  • Jesus heals the son at the seventh hour = perfect time. Jesus brings perfection. Also the time of his trial before Pilate.
  • Jesus' words give both physical and eternal life.
  • Son=Jesus' work
  • After the healing, the nobleman and his whole family believes in Jesus. The Bible will go beyond Judaism to embrace gentiles
  • This sign ends the positive/peaceful phase of his ministry. Jesus will now be met with opposition/rejection-CONFLICT!
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Healing of the Crippled Man

  • This sign marks beginning of opposition to Jesus' ministry- will face accusation/trials
  • Jesus met a lame man at the pool of Bethzatha, with 5 coverings=5books of the law
  • The man had been there for a total of 38 years=time Israelites spent in desert under Moses
  • Jesus asks the man if he wants to be saved, in other words is he happy with life under the Law of Moses??
  • A sinful man has awaited cleansing to enter the promised land (Jesus) Has religion saved him? Religion crippled him, Torah failed him
  • He is failed by Judaism and saved by Jesus (replacement theology)
  • The healing of Christ is more than just a spiritual thing!- Dodd "Jesus' words will make him whole, over against the law is the life giving word of Christ"
  • The Pharisses heard of this event and called the man in, and he repays Jesus by pointing him out. He fails to thank/defend Jesus
  • Happened on Sabbath- Controversy! Jesus states, " My father is always at work to this very day and I, too am working" (Blasphemy)
  • The man is a weak character, has no idea of who Jesus is or what has happened to him! Characterised by unbelief.
  • He is then excommunicated, which contrasts with the blind man.
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Feeding of the 5000

  • Substitute for Last Supper, this is his breaking of bread/wine
  • Passover 
  • Jesus is the New Moses RT..Jesus feeds his people with bread that leads to eternal life! Not the manna that Moses fed his people with, which provided no eternal guarantees!! Central to the Gospel's RT!!
  • 5 loaves and 2 fish=7 (Jesus brings perfection)
  • Bread will give them eternal life through his death
  • Jesus distributes the bread himself, as he gives his body on the cross
  • Jesus took the bread and gave thanks and fed them all hints of messianic banquet..
  • The disciples gather up 12 baskets of fragments=12 tribes of Israel, an image of the new community of God's people!
  • It has Eucharistic Overtones Bread= Body "I am the bread of life"
  • People only concerned of immediate physical needs, can't grasp significance of actions!
  • Crowd misunderstood symbolism,want him King Barrett states, "it was an atmosphere of intense messianic excitement"
  • Faith is central to miracle
  • Disciples=lack of faith! Kysar, "Wondrous deeds aren't always proof but always ambiguous"
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Healing of the Blindman

  • Jesus healed a man who was blind from birth on the Sabbath, it was seen as a punishment to be blind 
  • Jesus heals the man by spitting into some clay and anoints the man's eyes. How Adam was made
  • He washes his eyes in the pool of Siloam=sent, he is cleansed by living water. sent by Jesus as Jesus is sent by God!
  • Baptismal overtones: Water gives new life,a substitute for Jesus' baptism!
  • He receives a new baptism in which his physical disability is removed! He receives spiritual enlightenment. Kysar:"The overcoming of blindness is more than a physical healing, blindness suggests darkness and the healing is light"
  • "The light of the world" has entered into him.
  • Pharisees want him to condemn Jesus but he refuses, mocks them asking them if they want to be His disciples too! Stands up for Jesus as a result he is excommunicated Marsh suggests, "such excommunication was impossible so early it was appreciated and relevant in the light of the experience of church."
  • The Pharisees don't see him as Son of God,are in darkness. Judaism is bound by pride-what Jesus brings is greater! RT
  • At the start man seen Jesus as a Prophet- now as Son of God.. Gradual process!
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Raising of Lazarus

  • Jesus reveals his glory in Cana (1st Sign) and now leading to his ultimate glorification on cross!
  • Crux of the Gospel; it symbolises the end of the Old Israel and the birth of the new RT
  • It is seen as a bridge between the signs and Jesus' passion!
  • Lazarus means God helps
  • His sister Martha believes that Jesus can do something - She has faith! 
  • She declares that he is, "the Christ the Son of God", takes over Peter's Confession in Caesarea Philipi
  • Although she doesn't fully understand Jesus' power, she thinks he will be raised on the Last Day- Futuristic Eschatology, taken over by Realised Eschatology, "I am the resurrection and the life"
  • The stone was taken away from the tomb that Lazarus was in and with faith he rose from the dead, he died as a member of the Old Israel and raised through belief in Christ. Dodd suggests that,"the removal of the stone was to be viewed in the light of Jesus' resurrection, this incident is a foreshadowing of the story of Jesus going to face death to conquer death"
  • He is physically and spiritually reborn
  • Jesus has power over death, also "pre-figuration" of his own resurrection.
  • This sign hastens Jesus' death- leads the authorities to kill him once and for all
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