Often an author’s purpose is only implied, and readers must infer the goal which set pen to paper. However, John, in writing his story about Jesus is very explicit about his purpose. His gospel shares 7 signs (miracles) which are placed in the text with a stated purpose. The purpose is to give abundant life to the reader through belief in Jesus as the Creator, Lord, and Savior of the world. John writes and states his purpose in the verses below:
The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. John 20:30-31
1. The turning of water into wine (John 2:1-12)
2. The healing of the royal official’s son (John 4:46-54)
3. The healing of the paralytic at the Bethesda pool (John 5:1-17)
4. The feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-14)
5. The walking on water (John 6:15-25)
6. The healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-41)
7. The raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-46)
Seven signs, all pointing to the same thing. Each of the seven unique and personal to those involved, but every one of them preserved for the purpose of causing belief in Jesus. John wants us to give Jesus a chance to show us who he truly is, to have our life transformed by the power of the Son of God. The purpose of a sign is to transmit necessary information to those looking at the sign. Every day we encounter a myriad of signs that guide us and allow us to navigate daily life. We are so accustomed to seeing, reading and interpreting signs that most of the time we do not give a second thought to the process. From childhood we learned the skill to look and interpret. We see a sign and immediately assign a meaning to the sign. If John’s words are to be taken seriously, then we do the same thing with these signs. John, in writing down the good news about Jesus, gave us a few select signs that we are to look at and ask what the sign means. John ends his book telling us that if he’d attempted to record everything that Jesus said and did then the world itself could not contain the number of books that would need to be written (John 21:25). This tells us that John was selective in writing down the signs he chose. The signs John wrote about are embedded in stories from Jesus’ life. We read the story and ask ourselves what the significance is of the story. Ask yourself some simple questions about the stories:
1. What does this story say?
2. What does this story say about Jesus?
3. What does this story mean for you?
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