Isaiah 65.17-21; Psalm 29; John 4.43-54
Unlike the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke (commonly called the ‘synoptic’ Gospels because they seem to have seen the life of Jesus through ‘the same eye’), John’s Gospel makes no effort to present a continuous narrative of Jesus’ earthly life. Instead, John gives us seven ‘signs’ which he says he has selected and ‘recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.’ [20.31] The first two signs are enumerated: the transformation of water at the marriage feast in Cana
[2.1-11] and the healing of the son of a nobleman [4.46-54] The remainder, not explicitly enumerated by the Evangelist, are (3) the healing of a lame man at the pool of Bethzatha
[5.1-17]; (4) the feeding of 5000 [6.1-15]; (5) Jesus walking on the water [6.16-21]; (6) the healing of a man born blind [9.1-41]; (7) the raising of Lazarus from the dead [11.1-44]. It is this last sign which leads to a decision by an unexpected alliance of Sadducees and Pharisees to enlist the help of the Roman colonial government to put Jesus to death. [11.45-54]
Most of these seven ‘signs’ are also narrated in the synoptic Gospels, where they are usually called ‘miracles’ [cf Mark 6.52], that is, extraordinary events which cannot be explained by the laws of nature. For John, though, these signs point beyond themselves and invite us not merely to wonder [cf Mark 2.12b] but by our meditation on them to be formed in faith, to be made not simply in name but in reality his disciples.