Today I just wanted to explore the gospel of John briefly, and what insights we can gather from the instances in the gospel where the writer categorizes an act done by Jesus as a “sign.”
- John 2 – Water into wine, “his first sign.”
- John 4 – Officials son, “his second sign…”
- John 5 – at the pool.
- John 6 – bread.
- John 6 – Water.
- John 9 – blind man.
- John 11 – Lazarus.
If you count what John considers a “sign,” you get 7 signs prior to the resurrection of Jesus. By the way, have you noticed that the resurrection of the dead (raising Lazarus from dead in John 11) is the 7th sign? 7 in Hebrew conscience is most closely associated with creation and would mean something. The signs build, we start with water into wine and by the 7th sign we are raising the dead.
When Jesus is resurrected that would be the 8th sign, the beginning of a new week. The story is about Jesus resurrection beginning a new creation right here in the midst of this one. Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus and thinks he’s a gardener (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The old creation had a death problem, the new creation doesn’t! The new “garden” starts with the 8th sign.
The story about Jesus resurrection is God reaffirming the goodness of creation.
The story is about anticipating the coming day when heaven and earth are one again. (Heaven is where God is storing the earth’s future).
Side note: Some of the “signs “ in John are fascinating as they directly relate to major gods in Asia minor, where John was writing to and living (Ephesus) at the time. For instance, Dionysus turned water into wine (John 2), Asclepius was the god of healing (John 4 and 5), and Demeter was the god of bread (John 6). John speaks directly to images that his audience would know, and relates the stories of Jesus to them in language they can understand and relate to.
Also notice the nature of the acts noted as “signs.” When the Jewish Messiah came, many expected him to do great acts like defeat the Romans single handedly or move mountains. Jesus performs miraculous acts that show the nature of his character, as a servant who loved others.
What’s fascinating to me is if you think about this in the context of Superman, like most people would. Superman is the most fascinating superhero from a psychological perspective in my opinion. You have a man whose home planet was destroyed, all of his loved ones killed, and the only thing that can kill him is a piece of that home planet? Talk about some major therapy sessions there. Anyway, that is totally unrelated, and not what I was getting at. On to my actual point about Superman and his character.
Think about Superman, just for a moment. Was he Superman because he was faster than a speeding bullet or could leap tall buildings in a single bound? Or was he Superman because of what his heart reflected? Was he Superman because he didn’t give into the most base, meaningless reasons for existence? Is it possible Superman remains a hero in our minds today not because of his superpowers, but because of what his heart reflected? Do Superman’s stories, and stories about a first century sage named Jesus resonate today primarily because of what their hearts reflected?