John 2:11: How to Read a Sign
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Good signs are helpful. Confusing, unclear signs are no good at all.
In the city where I live there are constant complaints about confusing parking signs…different days and hours, arrows pointing in different directions, all seemingly designed to confuse and make people fall into disobedience to the law and end up paying a fine. On our freeways on the other hand occasionally we see a sign saying ‘Go Back. You are going the wrong way’. This is a great sign, clear, unambiguous. It is a sign to be heeded. You would be a fool to simply admire it as a sign and not do what it says. In fact, the consequences would be devasting as you would be driving into oncoming cars.
Today we pause to consider a single verse. John 2:11 tells us that Jesus actions at Cana are the ‘first sign’ that Jesus performed. John uses the term ‘sign’ to describe, what we would call, the miraculous actions of Jesus in this Gospel. It is, excuse the pun, a significant word in John’s Gospel. John collects 7 of these signs and presents them in his story of Jesus up to chapter 11, before recounting the final sign to which they all point when Jesus dies on the cross and rises again.
When Jesus describes the wedding at Cana as the first sign, he could also mean that this is the beginning of the signs, the foundation of the signs. It is this sign that tells us to read the other signs and get the message they intend.
First, the signs reveal Jesus’ glory. They reveal Jesus to be God’s Spirit anointed King, God’s divine and unique Son. They reveal that he has come to bring life. We read the signs correctly when we see that they point us to who Jesus is.
Second, the proper response to the signs is to believe what the signs point to; to trust in the one who does these signs. The signs point us to follow Jesus, to give our allegiance and loyalty to him. John chooses a small selection of extraordinary incidents that he calls signs. This is an extraordinary amount of wine, in a while Jesus will heal a young boy from a great distance; he will heal a man who has been ill for a lifetime, feed 5000 people, walk on water, heal a man born blind, and raise a man who has been dead for four days.
It is easy to get focussed on these signs and even demand that something similar be done for us. But that is to miss the point. But this would be like standing in front of a sign, admiring the way it is written but not seeing what it is saying. It would be like reading a sign saying Go Back, You are going the wrong way and walking straight towards it.
The signs point us to Jesus. One might be enough. Seven is overwhelming. Together they point us to Jesus and what he came to do. The Christian faith has always been a matter of trust. John gives us the words of Jesus and he gives us works, the signs, of Jesus.
John 20:30-31 says: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Let’s read the signs right, continue to trust in the name of Jesus, and enjoy the life he gives.
Gracious Lord, we give thanks that we have the works and words of Jesus recorded for us in the Gospels as we seek to grow in trust in him. Give us eyes to see and hearts that are open to receiving your word and the life that it promises in your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
In the Anglican Church in Brazil their church planting and evangelism is based on a ‘House of Peace’ strategy. Once a House of Peace is chosen, the host, who is a non-believer, invites family and neighbours to come and participate in the course, which is one hour per week for seven weeks and led by two church members. The course introduces them to Jesus. Pray for the Houses of Peace to continue to be very effective as a distinctively Brazilian way of proclaiming Christ faithfully.
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