I finished a sermon on John 4:43-54 with a ‘take-home exercise in believing': Find the signs of John’s gospel.
John’s gospel includes a number of signs, but he only numbers the first and the second. It is as if John says to us, “I made the first two easy for you, now you find the rest – pay attention!”
These signs (as I said in the talk) are not dead signs. They are living signs. Dead signs are like street pointers. Once you can find the street you forget the sign. Dead signs do their job once or twice, then disappear. They point 100% away from themselves.
Living signs, in contrast, never outlive their use. We meet Jesus precisely in the signs of John’s gospel. As we see and reflect on the sign we trust Christ – if we do it right.
So to help you in this take-home exercise, here are the places where John mentions a sign or signs. There can be signs where he does not use the word, so view this as a starting point.
2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
2:18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
3:2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
4:48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
4:54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
6:2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.
6:14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
6:26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”
6:30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?”
7:31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
9:16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
10:41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.”
11:47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.”
12:18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.
12:33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
12:37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him
18:32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
20:30-31Now 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.
21:19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
(All verses quoted in English Standard Version.)
So what do you notice? How does this help you to know John’s gospel, and to trust Jesus?