The Signs of John
Disciplines and vocations have access points. When you enter college as an economics major you start with Economics 101. When you begin an exercise program for the first time you hire a trainer or as an experienced friend for help. You may even read a basic book on nutrition. Why? Because you are seeking to enter a world with which you lack familiarity. But that’s not only true of our occupation and other disciplines it true of books. It is especially true of the Bible. I don’t know many people who encourage a new believer to read Numbers or Leviticus. Not because they are uninspired. Of course not! But they are not the best access points into the book we call the Bible. The Puritan William Perkins wrote the Art of Prophesying and he argued for the Gospel of John and the book of Romans as two of the best access points to the Scriptures. We might agree.
However, individual books also have on ramps. We might study the book of Philippians through the topic of joy. Or we might study Matthew’s gospel using the five discourses as our guide to the rest of the work. Now, why do I bring all of this up? Because in a series of articles we are going to study the Gospel of John and we are going to do it through one of his on ramps, in this case, the signs or miracles in the book. John has a number of signs or wonders and they each tell Jesus story.
When I was in seminary, my New Testament professor, Dr. Ed Robson, always had a way of helping us take a lot of information and digest it in manageable portions. I’ll never forget his teaching through the Gospel of John. He spoke to us about the many gemstones of that book. One has always stuck out in my mind. He spoke to us about John’s signs.
Turning water into wine (John 2:1-11)
Healing the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54)
Enabling the lame man (John 5:1-17)
Satisfying the Five Thousand (John 6:1-15)
Itinerating on the water (John 6:16-21)
Giving sight to the blind man (John 9:1-17)
Notifying Lazarus (John 11:1-44)
These all can be found in what commentators describe as John’s book of glory (John 1-12) and with each story we will learn about our Savior. Let me suggest that learning about Jesus is what we need today.
So often our attention is pulled in this direction or that when we really need to focus on Jesus. This series is designed to help you to do just that. In fact, let me challenge you. If you are struggling with all that we hear on the news, the lockdowns, the government and foreign relations then listen read these sections of John’s Gospel, then read the articles as they come out and finally turn these stories into prayer. Ask the Lord to minister to you. Ask him to confirm and increase your faith. And then ask him to help you make it a practice of fixing your eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.
Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He is also Professor of New Testament Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Jeff is also an online instructor for Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and has published academic articles and book reviews in various journals. Jeff is the Senior Editor of Place for Truth (placefortruth.org) an online magazine for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.