19 June, 2024

Feb. 11 Lesson | Signs and Wonders

by | 5 February, 2024 | 0 comments

Unit: John (Part 3) 
Theme: Believe 
Lesson Text: John 4:43-54; 5:1-14 
Supplemental Texts: Matthew 12:38-42; John 5:36; 10:4-42; John 20:30-31 
Aim: Let the miracles of Jesus give you even more confidence in him. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_Feb11_2024

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By Mark Scott

John’s Gospel is full of signs (miracles) that point to some unique aspect of the person or work of Christ. Summary: John 2—water into wine; John 4—Nobleman’s son; John 5—lame man; John 6—feeding of 5,000 and walking on water in the storm; John 9—blind man; John 11—raising of Lazarus; John 20—resurrection of Jesus. These fit John’s purpose in writing his Gospel (20:30-31).  

The gospel vocabulary for miracles comes to us via four words: miracles, wonders, signs, and works. John is partial to the word sign. He only used the word wonder once in his Gospel—and it is in 4:48. A sign is not the reality. A sign points to the reality—like a sign on a highway. The Bible has a love/hate relationship with these signs or miracles. On the one hand they can engender faith (John 10:25). On the other hand they can derail faith in the miracle worker (John 6:26).  

The Royal Official: Request for Healing 
John 4:43-54 

After a brief ministry in Judea following the Passover (John 2:13-–3:35), Jesus headed north and passed through Samaria. His encounter with the woman at the well occupies most of the fourth chapter. But the final narrative of John 4 deals with the request of the royal official (nobleman). Jesus’ cleansing of the temple had created quite a stir (2:13-22). This caused the prophet Jesus to leave his own country. Jesus was greeted warmly—even by the Gentiles—upon his arrival in Galilee.  

Jesus arrived in Cana—perhaps to check on the newlyweds just back from their honeymoon. Word spread quickly that Jesus was there. The royal official wasted no time. He journeyed uphill from Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee to Cana in the hill country near Nazareth. He was a desperate dad. His son lay sick and was close to death. At first pass, Jesus’ response to the man’s request seemed harsh—“Unless you people see signs and wonders. . . you will never believe.” Like the Canaanite woman of Matthew 15, the man refused to take no for an answer. He begged. 

Jesus must have been impressed with the man’s earnestness. He promised the man’s son would live. Remarkably, the man took Jesus at his word and left. The man’s high expectations for healing were confirmed by the joy of the servants on the road outside of Capernaum. The fever left the boy when Jesus spoke the word in Cana. The man and his household believed in Jesus. John said this was the second sign that Jesus worked when he came to Galilee, but evidently Jesus had worked other signs when he was still down south (3:2). 

The Lame Man: Right Place/Right Time 
John 5:1-14 

This miracle stood in contrast to the previous one. The nobleman brought his request for healing from a distance. The lame man was—just there. Depending on how the Gospels harmonize, some good time might well have passed since the healing in Cana/Capernaum. Jesus had journeyed back to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals (possibly Passover). 

The setting for this miracle was the pools of Bethesda. This is a wonderful archaeological site. It is right next to the Church of St. Anne (a church built in honor of the mother of Mary). There are many Roman columns there and plenty of cistern-like areas that could hold plenty of water with many steps leading to the pools of water.  

This seemed to be somewhat of a pagan site with a legend attached to it about an angel who stirred the water, and the first one to get in was healed (though there is a textual variant about that legend in verse 4). However, there is no textual variant in verse 7 when the lame man mentioned the stirring waters. Many blind, lame, and paralyzed people were at the pools. The lame man had been there for thirty-eight years. By sovereign grace Jesus chose this man to heal (not anyone else). Jesus’ question remains profound in our day, “Do you want to get well?” 

The man’s excuse (v. 7) was met by Jesus’ command (v. 8). “At once the man was cured.” One might know that it was the Sabbath. Of course the man was chastised for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. When questioned by the authorities, the man could not come up with Jesus’ name as the one who healed him. Jesus had slipped away. But they met later in the temple and Jesus challenged him to sin no more. The Jews were upset, the lame man was healed, and Jesus had stirred more than the waters (John 5:15-18). 


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