Gospel of John & The Book of Signs

We all know the first principal section of John is known as the Book of Signs. In this part of the Gospel, Christ gradually reveals Himself to be the Messiah through a series of miracles, beginning with Cana and ending with the raising of Lazarus. The Gospel of John is unique in the prominent role these seven accounts take in the ministry of Jesus, eclipsing – for John – the importance of the parabolic passage so prominent in the Synoptics.

The seven signs are 1) The conversion of water to wine at Cana, 2) the healing of the Royal Official’s son, 3) the cure of the paralytic on the Sabbath, 4) the feeding of the 5,000, 5) Jesus walks on water, 6) Jesus heals the blind man, who testifies before the Pharisees, and 7) the raising of the brother of Martha and Mary – Lazarus.

A couple of things are worth noting.  The feeding of the multitude is contained in every Gospel.  The healing of the Royal Official’s son parallels the healing of the centurion in Matthew.  The first and last miracles are unique to John.   The seven signs are common in that they contain testimony by an eyewitness person of faith as to the performance of the miracle after the miracle is performed.  They differ in that, on occasion, Jesus is petitioned to perform the miracle, as in the case of the Royal Official’ son and also at Cana.  On other occasions, as in the healing of the paralytic, Jesus takes the initiative to heal without being asked.

In every case, though, the miracles point to Jesus making manifest the Kingdom of God by his words and actions, and of his special relationship with the Father in heaven.  In other words, the Signs reveal to a person of faith who Jesus is.

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