John tells us in his Gospel that Jesus is the Living Word, eternal and divine. It was through Jesus that everything was created. Jesus is the source of life and light for all people everywhere.
John and the other disciples have seen the glory of God in the life of Jesus. He revealed His glory in the signs He performed; showing He does the work of the Father, but it is also seen in His obedience to His Father and His sacrificial love for the world.
The first part of the Gospel tells of the great signs that Jesus performs. By these signs (the other Gospels would call them miracles) Jesus shows that He is truly the Son of God. His signs, point directly to the Father.
The Sixth Sign: Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41)
Jesus has announced that He is “the light of the world.” To illustrate this, John tells us how Jesus heals a man who is blind from birth.
The disciples believe that someone who has been born blind must be bearing a punishment for some sin. They ask Jesus if this sin was the fault of the man himself or his parents.
Jesus doesn’t deny that sin can lead to tragedy. However, He explains that in this case the man’s blindness is an opportunity for God to bless him.
Jesus is the light of the world, and He intends to do God’s work while He has time. Making mud with His saliva, Jesus pastes it on the man’s eyes and tells him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. He comes back able to see!
Like the invalid by the Pool of Bethesda, this man soon finds himself cross-questioned about what has happened. Jesus has again chosen a sabbath day, and the Pharisees are outraged that He insists on working on the day of rest. They launch an investigation, asking the man his opinion of Jesus and even interrogating his parents. The man sticks to the plain facts of his story, that he was blind and now sees. He adds that this is surely a work of God. The authorities excommunicate him for blasphemy. He is expelled from the synagogue.
This story will have special meaning for Christians who are suffering for their faith, especially where they are disowned by their families or rejected by their faith communities.
The man who has been healed of his blindness has still not seen Jesus. Jesus goes in search of him and finds him. His mission as the Messiah is that the blind may receive their sight. How sad, He says, that many with physical sight are spiritually blind. Some Pharisees, listening in, think they detect a reference to themselves. They are right.
The Seventh Sign: Jesus Raises Lazarus From Death (John 11:1-44)
We are introduced to Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. They live in the village of Bethany on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, about two miles south-east of Jerusalem. They are dear friends of Jesus.
The sisters send a message to Jesus, asking for help because their brother is ill and probably dying. Curiously, Jesus delays. It is true that there is danger for Him if he goes near Jerusalem at this time, but more importantly He sees that God’s glory is going to shine through this situation. After two days He knows that Lazarus is dead—and He sets out to go to them. Thomas (called Didymus, which is Greek for ‘Twin’), encourages the others to go with Him, even though he is sure it will mean their death.
When Jesus arrives at Bethany, Lazarus has already been buried for four days. This is a well-known family, and many Jews have come from Jerusalem to comfort the sisters. Martha, whom we know as a woman of action from Luke’s story about her (Luke 10:38–42), comes out to meet Jesus. She tells Him that if He had only been there, her brother would not have died. Even so, she believes God will still answer His prayer.
Jesus assures Martha that Lazarus will rise again. She assumes this is the hope they all share of resurrection at the last day. But Jesus means that Lazarus will rise now! He makes one of the most amazing statements which reveal Him as the Son of God: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” – John 11:25. Martha responds with great faith: “I believe that you are the Christ” (verse 27).
When Mary comes out to meet Jesus, her tears trigger His own emotions. Outrage and grief flood through Him at the death of His friend.
Coming to the tomb, which is a cave with a stone across the entrance, Jesus asks for it to be opened up. Martha, who is proactive to the point of being bossy, warns that there will be a terrible smell of decay. Jesus assures her that she is about to see something of the glory of God.
Jesus prays. As always, He talks to God as His Father. He thanks Him that His prayers for Lazarus have already been answered. He prays aloud, so that those who are there can share His complete dependence on God for this great miracle. And then He cries, “Lazarus, come forth!” (verse 43)—and out Lazarus comes, with his grave clothes wrapped around him.
This is the seventh and greatest of the “signs” in this Gospel. The claim of Jesus, that He is the resurrection and the life, is proved by the resurrection of His friend.
Like Jairus’ daughter and the son of the widow of Nain, Lazarus is only retrieved back into this temporary life. He will continue to grow old until he dies again. Even so, his new lease of life is a pointer to the real thing—the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of eternal life for all who trust in Him as Christ.
Jesus’ “signs” have the effect of dividing people. While some believe in Him, others rush off to report Him. Soon the chief priests and Pharisees are meeting together in the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Council, to plan their next move. They begin to plot His death. Yet they can’t deny who is amongst them, Jesus, God’s Son.