Allow me to state the obvious (but not as obvious as it seems): the Gospel of John is a story about Jesus. Why is that something that needs clear stating? Because sometimes we need reminding that Jesus is not just a teacher with some good ideas and advice. Jesus is not an instrument by which we achieve happiness and success (which would reduce him to a pawn in our narrative and needs). He is nothing less than the focal point of our faith and story in his own right. What the Gospel of John is drawing us into is the full and perfect revelation of God in Jesus. So when Jesus performs miracles (or signs, as John likes to call them), we’re not to fall in love with the miracle – we’re meant to fall in love with Jesus. The miracle is a sign, a signal that God is present and active in the world to bring about healing and salvation. While we already have a book of the Bible called “Revelation,” the Gospel of John could just as easily go by that name. John is alerting us to how the creator God is fully and finally revealed in Jesus.
To read the Gospel of John is to embark on a treasure hunt. Water is changed to wine and we begin to see the fullness of God in Jesus. A deathly sick little boy is healed to full life and vitality. A lame man is made to stand and walk, and we’re seeing Jesus more clearly still. Clue by clue, we’re arriving at the treasure of realizing that our God is intimately present in our world. But there’s a danger that pops up now and then in John– that we would love the miracle more than the miracle worker, that we would love the treasure map at the expense of the treasure itself.
But when water is changed to wine, belief begins to grow in the disciples (John 2:11). When Jesus promises the healing of a man’s son (who is back home in another town), the man believes both on the way back to his son, and all the more once he discovers his son’s new health (John 4:46-54). The signs don’t point to themselves. They point to Jesus. They produce faith, trust, and a desire to follow him anywhere he would lead us. They make us fall in love with him more and more.
The thing about the signs in John’s Gospel is, they have layers. A miracle of life and vitality given to a boy and lame man (John 5:1-9) soon has Jesus talking about eternal life. The healing of a man’s physical blindness soon has Jesus talking about spiritual blindness and spiritual sight (John 9). When life is reclaimed from the clutches of death, it is a miracle. And when hearts are transformed from blindness and death to life and sight, it is a miracle.
Jesus gives to us life and vitality and newness so that we may believe in him, trust him with our whole selves, and fall more and more deeply in love with him. May our eyes be opened to the miracles happening all around us so that we fall in love with the one in whom we see the fullness and presence of God.