Over the last few months one of my focuses has been on the Gospel of John. I have often turned there in my studies and meditations because of the insights John gives us into the person and character of our Lord Jesus. Each of the gospel authors emphasizes a slightly different aspect of the life of our Lord; although there is perfect harmony between them as they write. Of course, this is what we would expect of four men “carried along by the Spirit”.
One of the “threads” I have been looking at recently is the thread of the sign miracles performed by our Lord. There are seven; although some would add the miraculous catch of fish related in chapter 21. My own thought is that since this miracle is related to us after John’s purpose statement at the end of chapter 20, that John does not intend us to see it as part of the series of seven. However, I could be wrong!
The particular thought that has been on my mind is that the Lord specifically identifies some underlying reasons in performing these miracles. Also, John tells us of purposes.
For instance, John tells us that the Lord “manifested his glory” when He turned the water into wine. In John 5 He said: “…the very works that I do bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.” In John 9 He says: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” The Lord is answering the disciples’ question as to the cause of the man’s blindness from birth. In John 11; when He was told that Lazarus was sick, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” There is this thought that what our Lord did in performing these sign miracles was in no instance capricious; or solely for the benefit of the recipient (in the case of healing) but for a particular bigger purpose.
Another thought that has been on my mind in connection with these miracles in John is the intimate knowledge by our Lord of each person involved. He knew what had preceded in each case, and knew each participant intimately.
The dermatologist I visit from time to time traces his family to Sicily. So his complexion is “Mediterranean”. My ancestry is more from North-West Europe, so my complexion shows all the effects of sun damage over quite a few years. That’s why I have to visit him from time to time, so he can get out his little canister of nitrogen and apply little shots to various part of my skin. It would be nice if someone could re-craft my genetic code so as to give me nice healthy skin like his; however, that would almost certainly have implications in other areas of my genetic makeup. Only the One who knows the whole tapestry of my frame from before my conception (Psalm 139) could make those changes correctly, and without unintended consequences in other areas of my body. That will have to wait for the Resurrection!
This led me to think of another aspect of our Lord’s dealings with those He came in contact with. For instance, in John 5, when the man by the Pool of Bethesda is healed, the Lord told him: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” There is a lot of information packed into that statement. There is an implication that it was sin that led to his condition in the first place. That is not stated in the narrative, but seems to be implied. We see this again in chapter 4 where we read that the Samaritan woman said; “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” This is also true of the woman taken in adultery of chapter 8. The Lord told her to “go and sin no more.” He knows all the details of our history, and all the factors that enter into it. That has two consequences in my thinking. One, His immense compassion to be able to deal in such a loving way with all the sinners He came in contact as He dwelt among us. Two, His immense compassion in dealing with me; knowing all He knows about me.
Going back to the title of this “thought”. The Scripture is clear that the various testings we experience are to produce in us perseverance, or endurance. They are for our growth and perfecting. However, it was recently emphasized by a brother as he spoke about Daniel and his friends; that testings are often brought upon us that we would be a witness to God’s perfect character. As far as we know, Job was not told what went on “behind the scenes” unless he read the book, or perhaps was the author himself. But we have the story, and James tells us (James 5:11) of the purpose behind the whole narrative: “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”