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Signs Done Well - VIII

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

            We have come to the seventh sign of Jesus in the gospel of John.  I hesitate to call it “the last sign,” because certainly there are others that could be included, most importantly the cross of Christ and the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  Traditionally, though, the seventh sign in John has been considered the raising of Lazarus from the dead, in John chapter 11.

            So much has been proclaimed and written about this chapter over the centuries, and for good reason!  To bring back a man from the tomb – and having been dead 4 days! – is an unrivaled work of power by the Lord of Life.  But the incredible power on display in this chapter is rivaled by the unmatched mercy shown by the man from Nazareth.  Jesus wept!  Jesus was deeply moved in his spirit!  Jesus cared for these people.

            Consider all that Jesus absorbed in this chapter:  misinformed questions, accusations, warnings of dangers, good people whom he had taught who just do not understand, weeping and wailing of professional mourners as well as genuine loved ones, being accused of playing favorites, the stark fact of death and decay lasting 4 days, and on and on.

            Jesus, our Champion, rises above all this, and raises the dead.  He will not be distracted, dissuaded, nor discouraged in His purpose.  And at the very moment His power is about to be unleashed, he pauses to pray and to give glory to the Father.  Who else would, or could, have the presence of mind and Spirit to be so perfect in his actions?  Only Jesus.  Only the Messiah.

            And then those incredible words of power:  “LAZARUS, COME OUT!!”  And then the immediate obedience of the resurrected one.

            But, “Do not marvel at this for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).

            What a sign!  What a Savior!


Signs Done Well - VII

Friday, February 19, 2016

            I love the story in John chapter 9, the sixth sign of Jesus, but it also makes me very sad.  It is a wonderful sign because it points to Jesus and his incredible power for good, and it yields an inexpressible blessing to a man who had never seen.

            The sad part of it though is what it reveals about the way people at the time thought, even the disciples of Jesus.

            “Who sinned, Rabbi, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  The old idea – at least as old as Job and his friends, that if bad things happen to you, it must certainly be your fault.  The just-as-bad corollary to that point is, if you are always good, only good things will happen to you.

            We all know from practical experience those ideas are wrong.  And to raise them in the context of a suffering person may be one of the cruelest things we can do to a fellow human being.  It truly would make us “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2).

            Jesus immediately sets the record straight in this case, however.  In response to the ignorant question of the disciples, the Lord emphatically answers “NEITHER!”  Neither!  Sin did not cause this blindness – neither the man’s nor that parents’.  Jesus in fact doesn’t reveal the cause of the blindness, which was doubtless rooted in some medical condition.

            But the Lord does say that God is going to do something in this man that will show people who He is.  In other words, this healing will be a sign that will point people to God, and especially to God’s Son.

            I encourage you to read all of John 9, and see how this all plays out.  It is quite amazing, and you will finish the chapter either seeing or blind – your choice. 

Signs Done Well - VI

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

            Before the day was over on which Jesus had fed the masses, he performed another amazing sign.  His disciples began their trip back across Lake Galilee to their home base at Capernaum, but the Lord was not with them.  They had traveled between three and four miles in the boat when suddenly Jesus caught up to them, not in another boat, but walking upon the water.

            This defies all we know about science and physics and natural laws – thus the miraculous sign.  It was such a violation of these things that when the men who loved Him most saw him approach, they were very frightened.  Jesus assures them it is him, and that they need not fear (John 6:16-21).

            When Jesus says “It is I” in verse 20, he kicks off a series of these “I Am” statements in the rest of the chapter (e.g. verse 35).  This is a statement, a claim, of divinity.  Only God says “I Am” in this way in the Bible.  Jesus is, subtly in one sense, not so subtly in another, claiming to be God.  This makes sense.  Only God could do what Jesus did in this sign.

            Another important link that would have been apparent to the disciples and especially to John as author later on is how this sign hearkens back to the words of Psalm 107.  That psalm begins “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.”  The psalmist then goes on and recalls various types of desperate situations the people of God have gotten into, and how God delivered them.  One of them was danger at sea – a deep-seated fear for all the ancients.  In verses 23-31 of Psalm 107, listen to the parallels with John chapter 6:


Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters;

they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.

They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;

they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men!


     Wondrous indeed are His mighty works!  His signs show us the way.


Signs Done Well - V

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

            The fourth sign in the gospel of John is a miracle of feeding.  More precisely, Jesus, to whom all signs point, multiplies a small amount of food to be more than enough to feed a multitude of 5,000 people (probably closer to 15,000 when one considers spouses and children being with the men counted).  This is recorded for us faithfully in John 6:1-15.

            We find out the reason such a large group was following Jesus in verse 2 – because of the signs!  In particular because of the preceding signs of healings of sick people.  It is dinner time in Galilee, and there is little to no food available for so many.  The cost of buying groceries for this assembly would be astronomical (verse 7).  It seems perhaps just one boy has carried his dinner (verse 9), consisting of five loaves of bread and two fish.

            Jesus takes this small amount, prays over it, and begins to have it distributed to these masses – and the miracle is it never runs out!  In fact, after all have eaten their fill, leftovers are gathered, enough to fill 12 baskets full!

            As amazing as this spectacle must have been to experience, the significance of the sign is only revealed the next day.  After some time away, the crowds find Jesus once again and have some questions for him.  One apparently is “Can you do another miracle, perform another sign? (verse 30).  So that we might believe?”

            Amazing, isn’t it?  Humanity’s hunger for spectacles and visual proof?  People would rather see a magic act any day than hear the word of God proclaimed.  Not much has changed.

            Jesus in response preaches them a sermon in which he tells them that he is indeed the Bread of Life.  “Think the bread I put in your mouths yesterday was good?  Think the manna God gave the children of Israel in the wilderness was incredible?  I am the true bread from God.  If you consume me, you will never be hungry again!”

            This sign points to Jesus as the fulfiller of every need, the One sent from God, the one who offers life eternal.  Some just wanted a good meal – Jesus offered so much more.  And does.


The Bible in 50 Words

Thursday, January 07, 2016

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Jacob fooled
Joseph ruled
Bush talked
Moses balked
Pharaoh plagued
People walked
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promise landed
Saul freaked
David peeked
Prophets warned
Jesus born
God walked
Love talked
Anger crucified
Hope died
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained.


Displaying 96 - 100 of 105

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