Category Archives: John: The Seven Signs

The Seven Signs Through the Eyes of John

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The Seven Signs Through the Eyes of John

The Gospel of John – Jesus’ seven signs – Denouement

1/4/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Were the the apostle John alive today, what would he say to us?  Would we find him wandering alone, like William H. Bonney at the end of Young Guns II?  When asked about Jesus, he might say:

“Did I like him? Hell no; I loved {Him}. You asked me if I have scars? Yessir, I have my scars.”

Perhaps he would introduce himself in the following way:

“I had been looking for the Messiah for as long as I knew of Him.  In John the Baptist, I saw the same eagerness to know the Messiah, and to prepare the way for His coming, so I followed Him.

When Jesus came to be baptized in the Jordan, I knew the it was He, the promised Messiah.  I cannot tell you exactly how, I simply knew.  From that day on, I arose and followed Jesus.

Many wanted to see a sign from Jesus, and He performed many.  For me, they were not necessary.  For I knew, from the moment I saw Him, that Jesus was the savior of the world, and that He loved me.”

The Apostle John
The Apostle John, witness to the watershed moment in human history. How would he finish the game?

60 years after Jesus had risen, John was contemplating his own earthly mortality.  What could he leave behind?  What would he say about Jesus?  What would he share so that the world would be moved as he had been moved by YHWH’s taking on flesh and dwelling amongst us, teaching us how to live, and then giving Himself as the final sacrifice for sin, so that humanity may be reconciled with Him in eternity?  While the seven signs are exceedingly important, John saw it as even more urgent that we focus on Jesus and finish the game.

Again, to quote Billy the Kid in Young Guns II:

“You remember the stories John use to tell us about the the three chinamen playing Fantan? This guy runs up to them and says, “Hey, the world’s coming to an end!” and the first one says, “Well, I best go to the mission and pray,” and the second one says, “Well, hell, I’m gonna go and buy me a case of Mezcal and six whores,” and the third one says “Well, I’m gonna finish the game.” I shall finish the game, Doc.”

How did John finish the game?  He began his gospel with the most definitive statement on who Jesus is that has ever been penned:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn’t overcome it. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and those who were his own didn’t receive him. 12 But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name: 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about him. He cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me.’” 16 From his fullness we all received grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for January 4, 2013

Copper Price per Lb: $3.65
Oil Price per Barrel:  $93.09
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.80
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.92%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,664
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.8%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,435
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,555,200,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,516,400,000,000

The raising of Lazarus from the dead after the Feast of the Dedication, a prelude to the Passion: The seventh sign

1/3/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today, we begin the new year with the conclusion of our series on the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  What is taught through these seven signs is of eternal significance.  If you have just now joined us, we recommend reading the following for additional context:

  1. Changing water into wine
  2. Healing of the Official’s son
  3. Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: parts I and II
  4. The Feeding of the 5000
  5. A hard teaching at Capernaum, Jesus walks on water
  6. The healing of the man blind at birth

Those who have followed the Mint for any time now know that our word is far from the final one on this or any subject.  Rather, we encourage every one of you to allow yourself to be studied by the Holy Scriptures, for if we simply study the scriptures, we will have gained nothing worth saving, but if we allow the scriptures to study us, our lives will be miraculously purified and enriched.  We will leave changed by the power of the Living God at work in us.

With this in mind, we encourage those of you in the Portland area to join us at 6:30pm on Wednesday, January 9th, at Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton (click here for a map), where we will attempt to present a portion of this series in a two-hour class format.  It is little time and we can only hope to scratch the surface, but at the same time, gathering in the synagogue, as it were, allows the Holy Spirit to move among us and transform us in ways that are impossible through individual study.

We now move into the seventh sign, the sign that proved once and for all that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, foretold by the prophets and seen by Isaiah 700 years earlier, and that all of humanity can have eternal life in Him.

Again, Jesus had performed many signs, of which John, the disciple who shared Isaiah’s spirit and was perhaps closer to Jesus than any other disciple, witnessed more than any other person.  Of the many, John chose to relate seven of them when he penned his Gospel some 60 years later.  While the previous six signs are important, none was more important in John’s eyes than the seventh sign.

It was the sign that proved He is YHWH, and the sign that sealed His fate on earth:  The raising of Lazarus from the dead.

After Jesus’ decision to attend the Festival of Booths, it is not clear in the Gospel of John whether or not He ever returned to the Galilee.  From what we can tell, His initial reluctance and subsequent decision to attend the Festival of Booths were an indication that Jesus was assenting to complete His mission, the salvation of the world, on the upcoming Passover.

The air in Judea and Jerusalem was thick with tension.  In Palestine, politics and religion are deeply intertwined, and it is impossible to understand what is occurring in one sphere without recognizing the influences of the other upon it.

After walking on water to His Disciples and healing the man blind from birth, Jesus had set Himself on a collision course with the Jewish authorities.  With the benefit of hindsight, it may seem obvious that the Jews would want to eliminate Jesus.

Why the animosity towards Jesus?

However, to the casual observer, both in first century Palestine and today, it is difficult to understand why the Jewish leadership would seek to kill the Messiah.  Was not He the one who would remove the oppressors, set the captives free, and declare the year of the Lord’s favor for them?  Was this not the fulfillment of YHWH’s promise which had been proclaimed by Israel’s greatest prophets seven centuries before?

The answer to this question can be found by examining the condition of the Jewish leadership of the day.  In the first century, Palestine was under Roman control.  The Romans ruled with an iron fist, and moved quickly to squash rebellion.  The Jewish leadership, down to the priesthood, which had previously been bestowed by virtue of heredity, was now a post appointed by the Roman authorities.  As such, the hand picked Jewish leaders in Judea found themselves responsible for managing the delicate balance of Jewish nationalism and submission to Roman authorities.

Naturally, those appointed were those who had mastered the art of compromise, and used their appointments to play one side off of the other, often to great personal advantage.

As the Maccabeans had done nearly two centuries earlier, Jesus was exposing the hypocrisy and extortion which was rampant in the ranks of the Jewish priesthood.  At the same time, He was restoring the faith of the people in YHWH.

The Jewish leaders began to fear another revolt of the type which had temporarily freed the Jews from the Seleucid Empire and overthrew the Jewish elite of the day, who had compromised the Jewish religion to the point of allowing Greek gods to be erected in the Temple and pigs to be butchered on the altar, on the Sabbath.

The Feast of the Dedication: Hanukkah

In 168 BCE, roughly 200 years earlier, Antiochus IV, then ruler of the Seleucid empire, had Judaism outlawed.  This sparked a revolt of devout Jews against the empire which would become known as the Maccabean revolt of 167-160 BCE.  The Maccabeans were successful in establishing a Jewish commonwealth which would last for 100 years.

A Menorah in Donetsk Ukraine Photo by Andrew Butko
A Menorah in Donetsk Ukraine
Photo by Andrew Butko

The celebration of the success of the Maccabean revolt is celebrated today.  It is known as Hanukkah, the Festival of lights.  In Jesus’ day, it was known by its Greek name, The Feast of the Dedication, acknowledging the re dedication of the Temple to YHWH by the Maccabeans.

Then, in 63 BCE, the Romans annexed Judea into their Empire in violent fashion.  When Jesus arrived on the scene, the Jewish elite, not unlike their counterparts under the Seleucid rule of Judea, had assumed a position of compromise, appealing to the people to tolerate the Roman rule in exchange for a measure of religious autonomy.  An autonomy that both the Jewish ruling class and the Romans used to exploit the population under the cover of religious observances, among other things.

At this point we call to the reader’s attention the incident where Jesus clears the Temple, related by John in chapter 2 of his Gospel:

12 After this, he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days. 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. 15 He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables. 16 To those who sold the doves, he said, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will eat me up.”
18 The Jews therefore answered him, “What sign do you show us, seeing that you do these things?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple! Will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

Jesus was passionate about Judaism and true worship of YHWH.  After the events which took place during the Festival of Booths, is should come as no surprise that Jesus would again show up in Jerusalem at the Temple, openly declaring that He is the Son of God, at the Feast of the Dedication.

Jesus had declared sternly that the religious leaders of the day are, “not my sheep.”  He seemed to affirm the line that was already drawn in the sand, pitting the devout Jews against the Jewish elite.  In doing so, the devout Jews assumed that Jesus was going to stir up the next Maccabean revolt and once again, “re dedicate” the Temple to YHWH.  The ruling elite took this threat of revolt, along with the increasingly personal attacks against them which Jesus explicitly and implicitly implied in His teachings, and began to plot in earnest to eliminate Jesus before He gained a wider following among the people.

For even if He was the Messiah, Jesus, through righteousness and the power of God, posed a direct threat to the status quo, a status quo which had allowed the Jewish elite not only to maintain the semblance of a Jewish quasi state and religious system, but more importantly, their appointed position as religious leaders and intermediaries between the Jewish nation and Rome.  It was a system that had made them very wealthy and at the same time extremely vulnerable.  Were the system to crash, it would come toppling down directly on top of them.

Enter Caiaphas

This seemingly complex relationship between a nation awaiting their promised Messiah and the leaders of that nation taking great pains to prevent the Messiah from appearing is embodied in a man named Caiaphas.

Christ before Caiaphas by Mattias Stom
Christ before Caiaphas by Mattias Stom

Caiaphas was the Roman appointed high priest during this tempestuous time.  He was appointed in a semi-nepotistic way, as is the custom in most corrupt leadership structures.  While attempting to maintain the status quo and at the same time appear religious, Caiaphas, as high priest, had famously prophesied that:

“…Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” – John 11:52

Such was the state of mind of the Jewish leadership of the day.  Their vulnerability and greed had ultimately pitted their will against the will of YHWH, the God whose observances they were charged with carrying out.

It is important to note that Caiaphas, as were most of the Jewish elite of the day, was a member of the Sadducee sect, a line of Judaism which denied spiritual phenomena associated with the afterlife.  This put them in opposition to many other branches of Judaism as well as Jesus, as they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, a belief system which lends itself to a situational system of morality in which the right thing is more often than not what is expedient at the moment.

It was Caiaphas who was involved in the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus, likely as chief prosecutor.

The Raising of Lazarus

After the Feast of Dedication, Jesus again left Jerusalem, presumably under the threat of detention and physical harm.  He went not home to Galilee but beyond the Jordan where John the Baptist had baptized Him just three short years before.  It was the place where His earthly ministry had begun.  Many people came to Jesus in that holy place, and put their faith in Him.

It is there, in the wilderness, that we find Jesus in the days before He performs what John, and this author believe to be the most important miracle of His earthly ministry.  We pick up the narrative in John 11:1-54:

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. It was that Mary who had anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother, Lazarus, was sick. The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, “Lord, behold, he for whom you have great affection is sick.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.”

The disciples told him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10  But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.” 11 He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.”

12 The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”

13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. 14 So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. 15  I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.”

16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus,*{Note: “Didymus” means “Twin”}. said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go also, that we may die with him.”

17 So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia†{Note: 15 stadia is about 2.8 kilometers or 1.7 miles} away. 19 Many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Then when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Therefore Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26  Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, he who comes into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went away, and called Mary, her sister, secretly, saying, “The Teacher is here, and is calling you.”

29 When she heard this, she arose quickly, and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha met him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.” 32 Therefore when Mary came to where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?”

They told him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept.

36 The Jews therefore said, “See how much affection he had for him!” 37 Some of them said, “Couldn’t this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have also kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?”

The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio di Buoninsegna 1310-11 Kimball Art Museum
The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio di Buoninsegna 1310-11

41 So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you listened to me. 42  I know that you always listen to me, but because of the multitude that stands around I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

44 He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.

Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.”

45 Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. 48 If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he didn’t say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.

While in Barcelona, we had the opportunity to play the role of Lazarus in a stage adaptation of the book “The Jesus I never knew,” by Philip Yancey.  As you can imagine, there was not much to do.  The people mourned and I lay there in bandages from head to foot.  They filmed a video short which showed one of the disciples kneeling at my side.  He then abruptly rose and ran off to locate Jesus.  It was a helpless feeling, yet the faith of the disciple, however far fetched, gave us cause for hope.

In this dramatization, we saw that the disciple’s faith in who Jesus was raised us from the dead, and that it was this same faith in YHWH that raised Jesus from the dead.

Will we listen when He calls us out?  Will we call others out from death to life?

In raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus put to rest any latent speculation that He was the Son of God.  Lazarus had been dead for four days.  The situation was so hopeless that Martha, Lazarus’ sister, was compelled to give a canned religious answer, as many of us do when faced with a seemingly impossible situation, in order that Jesus might save face (verses 21-26 above):

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26  Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

The resurrection is here and now.  The seven signs presented by John bear a unique witness to this, for John had known this all along.  Both the religious leaders, who feared Jesus, and the devout Jews, who were disappointed in Him, missed the point, and in the end condemned Jesus and abandoned Him in turn.

In contrast, the disciple that Jesus loved stayed by Him through the trial and to the very end on the cross.  Jesus asks John to take care of His mother, Mary, perhaps the highest honor that He could bestow on earth.  While Peter got the church and all of its issues, John would get to continue to know Jesus through His mother’s eyes.

Will we stay by Jesus through accusations and disappointments?  Will he give us something to care for, or a unique gift of insight?

We pray that you have been both blessed and challenged in your faith as we have in exploring the seven signs.

We leave you with the words or our Lord Jesus:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for January 3, 2013

Copper Price per Lb: $3.67
Oil Price per Barrel:  $92.81
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.89
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.90%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,664
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,391
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,555,200,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,516,400,000,000

The healing of the man blind at birth during the Festival of Booths: The sixth sign

12/31/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

We continue our series on the the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  If you have just now joined us, we recommend reading the following for additional context:

  1. 1.     Changing water into wine
  2. 2.    Healing of the Official’s son
  3. 3.    Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: parts I and II,
  4. 4.   The Feeding of the 5000, and
  5. 5.    A hard teaching at Capernaum, Jesus walks on water

Additionally, we encourage you to subscribe to or bookmark The Mint for updates as we move through this important series.

As expected, the intensity is building as we approach the sixth sign.  We have stated here before that the disciple John, who witnessed perhaps more of Jesus’ miracles than anyone else during his earthly ministry, chose to include these seven miracles in his Gospel because, through them, we would be able to see Jesus as he had seen Him, as the Messiah, YHWH come to dwell among us.

After the feeding of the 5000 at Bethsaida and Jesus’ subsequent four mile walk on top of a stormy Sea of Galilee to join them in their fishing boat, His disciples, save John, who already knew, suspected that He was someone very special.  The crowds who followed Him were also becoming aware that Jesus was no ordinary rabbi or prophet, and the speculation surrounding Him was increasing.

Also increasing was the ire of the Jewish religious authorities who saw Jesus as a direct threat not only to their religious system, but to the fragile Jewish state which they imagined that they had carved out through a series of compromises with Rome.

Jesus’ open declarations that He is YHWH served as the blunt instrument that the religious authorities used against Him in their religious courts.  However, in order to kill Him, which was fast becoming their ultimate solution, they needed to employ the Roman capital punishment apparatus, as the Romans would not allow the Jewish authorities to execute anyone for obvious reasons.  When it comes to Empire, the authority to kill must lie solely with the central authority.

Sukkot and the days of awe

Under these circumstances, Jesus announced that He would not attend the upcoming Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), or Sukkot, the Jewish Festival which follows Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, which was the holiest day of the year.  Jesus’ initial reluctance to attend the Feast, and ultimate decision to attend, has great significance, both for our understanding of the sixth sign and for Jesus’ future second coming.

As you may recall, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, marks a new beginning.  The Jews believe that on this day the fate of each person for the upcoming year is written by YHWH in the Book of Life. The days (approximately 9) between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, known as the the days of awe, are spent in deep reflection, fasting, and prayer.  It is a time of confession and repentance, it is a time of recognition that we are but dust, yet infinitely precious in YHWH’s sight.

The Jews believe that the fate which is written on Rosh Hashanah is then sealed by YHWH on Yom Kippur, at which point the Feast of Booths begins.  It is our speculation that Jesus made the decision to ultimately attend the Feast of Booths to symbolically seal His fate.  He would give His life for humanity on the upcoming Passover.

Yom Kippur is regarded as the Sabbath of Sabbaths, as such, it is only appropriate that the Jewish leaders who were looking for a reason to kill Him, would carefully observe Jesus in hopes of catching Him breaking their observance of the Sabbath.

The decision to go to Jerusalem

Jesus finally left the Galilee and went to Jerusalem, which was abuzz with rumors regarding Him, in secret..  We are told by John that Jesus began to publicly teach in the Temple in the midst of the feast, which we may assume was after Yom Kippur.

The Pool Siloam Map and the Temple in Jersusalem
The Pool Siloam Map and the Temple in Jersusalem

With each man’s fate sealed for the upcoming year, the speculation surrounding Jesus erupted upon His appearance.  Jesus began to publicly expose the hypocrisy of the religious leaders by openly questioning them as to why they were trying to kill Him, if indeed they agreed that He did the works of YHWH?  A straightforward question which was met with accusations that He was a lunatic.

Still, we are told that many believed in Jesus on that day.

That night, rather than staying in Jerusalem, Jesus went up to the mount of Olives, a place that was to have great significance for Him just six months later.

The next morning, Jesus returned to the Temple to teach and finds Himself in the midst of the now famous incident regarding the woman caught in adultery.  This incident, which John relates in Chapter 8:1-11, is revolutionary as, with one simple phrase, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” Jesus shares with them YHWH’s opinion as to what, on the surface, appeared to be a sentence carried out in His name.

For Jesus was making it known that apart from righteousness, “Go and sin no more,” YHWH requires us to forgive the trespasses of others.

Jesus then openly declares that He is God’s son, the Messiah, and further observes that the religious Jews do not even know YHWH, the God they purported to worship through their ceremonies and rituals.  He then begins to offer all freedom from sin in His name.

Naturally, this further offended the religious Jews, who believed that, as they had made it through Yom Kippur, they were once again right with God for the upcoming year.  Being told that they were in sin and did not know God went against everything they believed.  As such, the rhetoric between them and Jesus became more contentious.

So violent was the debate that the religious Jews, some of whom had just set down their stones in recognition of their own unworthiness and God’s mercy, picked them up again, intending to stone Jesus.

Jesus then did what any peacemaker would do, he left the Temple.

However, this was not the end of the matter, for at the Feast of Booths, which Jesus was at first going to forgo attending, many were to come to know and believe in Him as the Son of the Living God, the Messiah.

The Blind man and the pool of Siloam, the sixth sign

Jesus had not gotten far when He and His disciples came across a man who had been blind from birth.  Jesus’ disciples, who were still trying to recover from years of religious abuse, dared to ask Him a question, one that they must have been anxious to ask for some time.  Pointing to the blind man, they asked:

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?”

When one grows up in, or worse, is formally trained up in a religious system, it is natural to attempt to understand all natural phenomenon through a lens of obedience.  If something goes wrong, or is not as it “should be,” it must be because someone has made God upset.  As such, if we can understand what made God upset, we can hope to avoid upsetting God in the future.  If we did this enough, everyone would understand what God expected and be able to do it.  Armed this this knowledge, diseases such as blindness could be cured within a generation  Conversely, the existence of such diseases means that the diseased have failed to please God and therefore deserve to live with their punishment.

The Pool of Siloam by Yoav Dothan
The Pool of Siloam by Yoav Dothan

This is how the many of the Jews, indeed, much of humanity, of the day thought.  It is a scientific thought process which is the hallmark of a religious system.  It is what Jesus came into the world to destroy.

To this question, Jesus replied:

“either did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

What is unique about the sixth sign, among other things, is that the man who was healed did not ask Jesus to do anything for Him.  Indeed, as He was blind, and may not even have known that Jesus was near Him.  It is significant that Jesus chose to heal the man in that instant to teach His disciples that the religious/scientific thought process they were using was invalid.

Here is what happened as it is related by John in chapter 9, verses 1-16 of his Gospel:

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him. I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, anointed the blind man’s eyes with the mud, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing. The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, “Isn’t this he who sat and begged?” Others were saying, “It is he.” Still others were saying, “He looks like him.”

He said, “I am he.” 10 They therefore were asking him, “How were your eyes opened?”

11 He answered, “A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received sight.”

12 Then they asked him, “Where is he?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

13 They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees. 14 It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see.”

16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was division among them. 17 Therefore they asked the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?”

He said, “He is a prophet.”

Hezekiahs tunnel
Hezekiahs tunnel

As the man was not seeking Jesus, we can divine that he was not able to exercise faith, as those who had sought Jesus out in the earlier signs had done.  The man’s healing depended upon his willingness to obey the command of Jesus to wash in the pool of Siloam.

The pool of Siloam, or Shiloh, was located outside of the city walls.  It took a certain amount of discipline for the man to walk away from the entrance to the Temple, past any number of opportunities to wash the mud from his eyes, and to finally wash in the pool of Siloam.  However, in doing so, He gained not only his sight, but played an important, and perhaps unwitting role in further exposing the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders.

For rather than marvel that the man’s sight had been restored, the Jewish religious leaders chose to lament the fact that he had been healed on the Sabbath, and declared that the man who was healed was born in sin.  An extremely mature stance which must have made the man who could now see chuckle at their infantile reaction and seek out the true source of life, Jesus, whom he promptly confessed once Jesus found him, this time with his eyes open, looking for the Messiah.

The significance of the pool of Siloam

It is also significant that Jesus asked the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.  The pool of Siloam was a stone, man made pool which held water which had been diverted from the Gihon spring, Jerusalem’s natural water source, via Hezekiah’s tunnel, which was presumably constructed before the year 701 BCE underneath the City of David.

Hezekiah ordered the tunnel, which at the time was an engineering marvel, to be built in preparation for an imminent invasion of Judah by the Assyrian army.  While Jerusalem sits on cliffs and is naturally well defended, the Gihon spring was distinctly vulnerable, leaving the cities water supply an easy target in the vent of a siege.  Hezekiah had the spring capped off and the water supply diverted covertly, via his tunnel, to an more defensible position.  This position was the pool of Siloam.

It is not coincidental that the pool is mentioned by Isaiah, as we believe that Isaiah and John are kindred spirits.

Isaiah mentions the pool in chapters 8:6, where it is referred to as the “waters of Shiloah,” and in 22:9.  The word Shiloh in Hebrew means “gift” or “he who is sent.”  It is also charged with meaning in light of the prophecy revealed in Genesis 49:10:

 “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs.  To him will the obedience of the peoples be.”

Jesus did not simply send the man away to the pool of Siloam on a whim, a detail that was not lost on John, who saw, as I hope we all do, that everything that Jesus did was charged with divine significance.

As the water from the Gihon spring in Hezekiah’s time, the spiritual fount had been covered at the Temple and was diverted to Shiloah, the pool of Siloam, so that all may drink and be filled.

Later, Jesus would say that He had come so that the blind may see, and that those with sight may become blinded.  He performed the sixth sign as a living reminder of this truth, and it was not lost on John, or any of those who had witnessed it.

Let it not be lost on us either, as we enter an important new year, full of hope and thanksgiving.

Stay tuned for the seventh sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for December 31, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.58
Oil Price per Barrel:  $91.82
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.98
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.76%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,675
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,104
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,407,600,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,491,100,000,000


A hard teaching at Capernaum, Jesus walks on water: The fifth sign

12/28/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today,  we continue our series on the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  If you have just now joined us, we recommend reading the following posts:

Changing water into wine, Healing of the Official’s son, the Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: parts I and II, and The Feeding of the 5000 for additional context, as well as bookmarking or subscribing to The Mint for updates as we move through this important series.

As we observed yesterday, in feeding the 5000, Jesus was not simply solving a large-scale logistical problem, He was leading the crowd and His disciples into his most profound and divisive teaching yet:

The He is the bread of life.

This teaching was so profound that two of the signs which John recorded are associated with it.  The feeding of the 5000 at Bethsaida and the sign that we will explore today, Jesus’ walking on water.

After the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, the people had tried to make Jesus King by force, and we can imagine that they may have openly discussed mounting a revolution.  While those who were against Jesus believed these types of rumors, and ultimately used them to persuade the Romans to use their capital punishment apparatus against Him, the rumors were without basis.

As His Disciples would find out later, Jesus had no interest in becoming King of the Jews, the title which Pontius Pilate placed upon the cross where Jesus was crucified.  Jesus’ sole aim was to bring the Kingdom of YHWH into the hearts of everyone.

For this reason, Jesus departed when the crowd began to plan a revolution on His behalf.  They weren’t getting it.  The kingdoms of men are less than nothing in the eyes of YHWH, they are, in fact, His mortal enemy.  What use is an earthly kingdom to the One by whom all was created?

Jesus’ disciples were perplexed by this, so much so that, when evening came and Jesus did not appear, they decided to get into the boat and head to Capernaum.  Little did they know, they were about to witness the fifth sign which John would later choose to relate in Chapter 6:16-21, for it was the first sign in which Jesus clearly revealed his divine nature:

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18 The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing. 19 When therefore they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But he said to them, “It is I AM, Don’t be afraid.” 21 They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

The Galilee
The Galilee

By walking, yes, walking, on the surface of the Sea of Galilee from the shore below Bethsaida to a boat that was twenty-five or thirty stadia, which in today’s measures would be 5 to 6 kilometers or 3 to 4 miles, almost at its destination in Capernaum, Jesus allowed His Disciples to witness something that many, save John, had not completely understood before that moment:

That Jesus is YHWH

In the book of Job, chapter 9, verse 8, Job declares the following regarding YHWH:

He alone stretches out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea.

However, in a moment of panic, the Disciples may not have been quick to make this connection.  Jesus’ salutation, “It is I AM,” was what nailed this truth home for them.

It is interesting that John does not focus on the fact that they thought Jesus was a ghost, nor on Peter’s failed attempt to walk towards Jesus through the waves, as Matthew did.  For John knew it was Jesus, and to him, Peter’s failed attempt to walk on the waves was not significant, for he knew that Jesus would save Peter.

John’s laser focus on the Messiah caused him to focus on something entirely different.

Ani hu and Ego eimi

Jesus’ salutation in John 6:20 allows us to highlight something astonishing about the Gospel of John.  John’s intentional use of the Greek phrase “Ego eimi” when Jesus is talking of Himself.  The phrase appears 24 times in the Gospel of John and is the Greek translation of the Hebrew words “Ani hu”, which appears in the original text of the book of Isaiah.  Isaiah used the phrase “Ani hu” as a euphemism for YHWH Himself.

"Walking on Water" By Ivan Aivazovsky 1890
“Walking on Water” By Ivan Aivazovsky 1890

John intentionally uses “ego eimi,” which parallels the translation of Isaiah’s “Ani hu” in the Septuagint {Editor’s note:  The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament} to punctuate the Deity of Jesus.  This Greek term was synonymous with YHWH to the Jewish listener, this is made obvious by the startled reaction of the religious Jews whenever Jesus used this phrase to refer to Himself.

Though Jesus may have actually been speaking Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic on any of the occasions that John inserts the pronoun ego eimi, in all cases the reaction of the Jews serves as proof that Jesus was declaring the He is God.

Just like Isaiah, 700 years before him, John saw the Messiah, and he knew that Jesus and YHWH are one.  While it would take religious scholars centuries to define the concept of the Trinity, John simply knew God, knew Jesus, and knew the gift that Jesus left them.  Above all,he knew that Jesus loved him, and theological details were rendered pointless in light of this truth.

The Bread of Life

Once Jesus had established the fact the He and YHWH are one to his Disciples, they were ready to learn a deep truth.  The truth that would separate those who would believe in Him and accept the radical, life-giving forgiveness that He was offering freely to them from those who simply wanted to place Him at the center of their religious system.

The Disciples were beginning to understand that Jesus is YHWH, and that He was turning the system which was being carried out in His name completely on its head.  It was exciting and terrifying all at once, Just like YHWH Himself.

This truth is so important that it must be read in its entirety, for it has great implications for the Church today.  Will we cling to antiquated forms of worship and service, fitting Jesus in when possible? Or will we allow Him to transform our very souls, to remove the root of sin from us, and let Him make of us the Temple that He has desired to inhabit since the dawn of creation?

John 6:22-71:

22 On the next day, the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except the one in which his disciples had embarked, and that Jesus hadn’t entered with his disciples into the boat, but his disciples had gone away alone. 23 However boats from Tiberias came near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus wasn’t there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

26 Jesus answered them, “Most certainly I tell you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. 27  Don’t work for the food which perishes, but for the food which remains to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father has sealed him.”

28 They said therefore to him, “What must we do, that we may work the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

30 They said therefore to him, “What then do you do for a sign, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness. As it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heavenGreek and Hebrew use the same word for “heaven”, “the heavens”, “the sky”, and “the air”. to eat.’”Exodus 16:4; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:24-25

32 Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly, I tell you, it wasn’t Moses who gave you the bread out of heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33  For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

34 They said therefore to him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36  But I told you that you have seen me, and yet you don’t believe. 37  All those whom the Father gives me will come to me. He who comes to me I will in no way throw out. 38  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39  This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up at the last day. 40  This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

41 The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down out of heaven.” 42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then does he say, ‘I have come down out of heaven?’”

43 Therefore Jesus answered them, “Don’t murmur among yourselves. 44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. 45  It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Isaiah 54:13 Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me. 46  Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47  Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life. 48  I am the bread of life. 49  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50  This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die. 51  I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. 54  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55  For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him. 57  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me. 58  This is the bread which came down out of heaven—not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?”

61 But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62  Then what if you would see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63  It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life. 64  But there are some of you who don’t believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn’t believe, and who it was who would betray him. 65 He said, “For this cause have I said to you that no one can come to me, unless it is given to him by my Father.”

66 At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You don’t also want to go away, do you?”

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

70 Jesus answered them, “Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 Now he spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for it was he who would betray him, being one of the twelve.

This was taught by Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum, which, as you may recall, is where the official’s son was healed in Jesus’ second sign, which he performed while physically present in Cana, roughly 20 miles away.

Capernaum was the place where Jesus showed us that blind faith is enough.  Here, he was probing to see who amongst the crowd possessed this blind faith.  We can see this in the way He continues to answer each request for proof of His Deity by the Jews with what seems an increasingly illogical claim, up to the point of declaring that unless they eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, they have no part in Him.

While at the time this may have seemed like an extreme bit of Jewish humor, it became charged with meaning in the context of the Cross.  You see, it took the Cross for the Jews to understand how far God would go for them and for all of humanity, so that they might understand the God loves us and forgives us, unconditionally.  All that He asks of us is to strive to love and forgive in the same way.

Will we take the assignment?  All of creation is awaiting our response!

While God has made it clear that He abhors sacrifice, He agreed to sacrifice His own Son, so that we would understand, once and for all, that sacrifice is finished.  There is nothing we can do to please God, apart from believing in Him and moving ever closer to Him.

It is safe to assume that many who witnessed these two signs and then heard Jesus’ teaching at Capernaum afterward had also heard the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus laid out God’s expectations for humanity.  Most of them did not get it, or got it and were looking for an alternative, a list of concrete tasks and observances to absolve their conscience before the Holy One.

There are no alternatives.  What God requires of us is something that only He can give us, a pure heart.  The only way to accept a pure heart is to first realize that we need one, we need God to remove the root of sin from within us.  Everything Jesus taught is pointing towards this.

While it is common to celebrate the communion, the truth of Jesus’ bread of life teaching had nothing to do with food, much less cannibalism.  The truth is that the food we are to desire is God’s Spirit, which he was pouring out even then.  All flesh is wasting away, but the Spirit of YHWH is the fountain of everlasting life.  With God’s Spirit moving in us and through us, we can all become the bread of life for those with whom we come into contact, until they, too, look to the source, God Himself, made known to us through Jesus, who was the first to become the bread of life, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, so that we may “always have this bread and drink.”

Are we, like the twelve, still with Him? Are we starting to get it?  Will we see the sixth sign?

Stay tuned for the sixth sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for December 28, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.57
Oil Price per Barrel:  $90.62
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.94
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.71%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,656
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,938
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,407,600,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,491,100,000,000

The Sabbath conflict and the Feeding of the 5000: The fourth sign

12/27/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

The year is fast escaping us as we continue our series on the the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  If you have just now joined us, we recommend reading:

Changing water into wine:  The first sign, Healing of the Official’s son:  The second sign, and the Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: The third sign, parts I and IIfor additional context, as well as bookmarking or subscribing to The Mint for updates as we move through this important series.

On the Sabbath

After relating the healing of the paralytic at Bethesda, John, who had a knack for such things, relates word for word what Jesus said to religious leaders as they rebuked him for healing the paralytic on the Sabbath.  What is ironic about this rebuke, and all of the other instances where Jesus is accused of breaking the Jewish Sabbath, is that Jesus did not perform work in the sense that you and I may think of work.

For instance, he simply told the paralytic to get up, take his mat, and walk.  To the Pharisees who observed this, they quickly saw that Jesus’ speech had caused something to “generate,” in this case, the paralytic’s ability to walk.  In this strict sense, nearly any biological activity undertaken to sustain life would throw one into conflict with the fourth commandment.

As John’s careful choice not to name the specific feast which Jesus is intending implies, Jesus’ specific order to the man to pick up his mat and walk was done in direct challenge of what many rabbis of the day saw at the top of the list of Sabbath violations:  Carrying something outside of one’s home.

The Hebrew words used in the Bible when the Sabbath decrees are given which are translated as “work”, kol-m’law khaw, mean “all and any kind of creative ‘generative’ endeavor, changes to the environment or any object.”  Given this strict definition, it could be said that taking food or drink could lead to a change in the environment.

Given the impossibility of compliance, the Pharisees and other Jewish sects had taken to interpreting the Sabbath restrictions in a way that suited what they deemed necessary to maintain their particular lifestyle.  What they were objecting to, then, was the way Jesus chose to observe the Sabbath.

It is the same today.

For any who struggle with how to obey the fourth commandment, Jesus gave the following advice in Mark 2:27, which is the final word on the subject: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

At this stage in Jesus’ earthly ministry, John began to see what Jesus meant when he declared earlier, in Chapter 2:19 “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  For Jesus had come not to destroy the Jewish nation, but their misguided form of worship, of which the Sabbath observance had become a prime example.

As most agreed that everything Jesus did was good, those who opposed Him had to cling onto when He was doing it in order to prove that He was a traitor and working to subvert the Jewish nation.  Yet Jesus did not intend to destroy the Jewish nation, nor to save it in its present form, rather, he came that we might know that YHWH loves us, and that His forgiveness is unconditional.

This was to prove exceedingly important when the Romans finally decimated Jerusalem in 70 CE.

Hailing back to Isaiah’s time, some 600 years earlier, the Jewish people had been nearly decimated.  The Temple that Solomon had built had been destroyed and along with it, the central focus of the worship of YHWH.  This blow would have meant the end of both a religious system and the ultimate loss of the national identity of those who worshiped YHWH.  Had it not been for the rich Jewish oral tradition, the writings of Isaiah which were carried into Babylon, and rise of the synagogue system in the exile, the Jewish nation would not have survived.

Instead, the Jews quickly adapted to what amounted to, “the sudden disappearance of this avenue (the Temple) of communing with God,” which was a “tragedy of awesome dimensions,” (quotation of Lawrence H. Schiffman, From Text to Tradition, Ktav Publishing House, Hoboken, NJ, 1991) and came out of it stronger as a nation.  Judaism took on a new dimension and flourished in the Babylonian exile with prophets such as Ezekiel building upon the understanding that YHWH desired mercy and not sacrifice.

600 years later, with a new Temple funded by Herod, the Jews were falling again down the slippery slope of sacrifice and confining YHWH to the trappings of a building.

Feeding the 5000

After the healing at Bethesda, we are told that Jesus again returned to the Galilee and this time went to the other side of the sea of Galilee.  However, as we observed earlier, Jesus had attracted quite a following in Jerusalem.  John observes that a great multitude” had followed him because of the healings that He had performed.

While many had been healed, Jesus seemed to be more concerned that people not sin rather than that they eat the the right foods and stay healthy.  He did not even seem that concerned with their safety or how they spent their money.  His focus was on avoiding sin, yet he seemed to know that people would have trouble doing this.

From a glance at all four the Gospels, it would appear that Jesus passed much time in the Galilee teaching on the mountains surrounding this picturesque sea.  It is during this time that He preached the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ longest recorded discourse in which He laid out the central tenets of discipleship.  This life changing discourse can be found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7, and must be read and understood by all humanity.

During this time, Jesus receives news that John the Baptist has been killed.  This must have shaken Jesus, not because it surprised him, but because He knew that his time was short, and that the scriptures must soon be fulfilled.

In preparation, Jesus withdrew by boat to a solitary place near Bethsaida to seek YHWH.  He knew that it was time to go deeper.

Predictably, many people followed him to this solitary place near Bethsaida.  Those who followed had come not only to hear Jesus, but in many cases they were there hoping to be healed of a physical ailment, and His hasty withdrawal gave them, too, a sense of urgency.  They hurried after him and many did not bother to make adequate preparations for the journey.

Again, it must be understood that curing physical ailments was not Jesus’ primary intention.  His intention was to draw people to himself that they might be drawn away from sin.  This is what took place at Bethsaida.

Jesus Feeding the 5000 by an unknown artist
Jesus Feeding the 5000 by an unknown artist

It is during this time of deep teaching that Jesus brings out what at the time was his most divisive teaching, one so profound and challenging that it caused a great deal of his disciples to turn back in dismay.

As the multitudes approached Him, Jesus chose to approach this teaching via the fourth sign recorded by John in Chapter 6:5-14:

After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias. A great multitude followed him, because they saw his signs which he did on those who were sick. Jesus went up into the mountain, and he sat there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Jesus therefore lifting up his eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone of them may receive a little.”

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in that place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting down; likewise also of the fish as much as they desired. 12 When they were filled, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces which are left over, that nothing be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 When therefore the people saw the sign which Jesus did, they said, “This is truly the prophet who comes into the world.” 15 Jesus therefore, perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

On the surface, the feeding of the 5000 is a miraculous answer to a grave logistical problem caused by the crowds haste to be near Jesus.  Yet it had such a great impact that it is recorded in all four gospels.  However, Jesus did not intend this miracle to be the focal point of the lesson, He wanted to teach His disciples, the 5000, and all who woul listen the following lesson:

That He is the bread of life.

They didn’t get it, and they tried to make Him King by force.  Jesus withdrew again to the Mountain alone to be near to YHWH.

The lesson was so important that it would require a second sign and a challenge, one that would force his disciples to become the first ones to cross the watershed mark of human history.

They had to decide, then and there, who Jesus was to them.  Was He a madman, a witch doctor, or the Son of the Living God?

Stay tuned for the fifth sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for December 27, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.58
Oil Price per Barrel:  $91.43
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.91
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.72%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,663
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,096
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,407,600,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,491,100,000,000

Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: The third sign, part II Jesus at the bathhouse

12/19/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

If you have missed part I of the third sign, we recommend that you take a moment to read it to get a sense of the Setting in which Jesus was performing this sign.

Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: The third sign, part I

We have noted that Jesus was again at the Passover, and that his visit to the bathhouse, which was a healing temple dedicated to the Greek/Roman god of healing, Asclepius and may have been near the birthplace of Jesus’ grandmother, Saint Anne, was to lead to the first of many direct confrontations with the Jewish religious authorities.

As we approach the text, which can be found in the Gospel of John, chapter 5:1-18, it is important to ponder why Jesus was there in the first place.  Was he not attending the most holy feast of the Jews?  Would not setting foot on the site of what was a pagan temple on the Sabbath have defiled him and prevented him from entering the Jewish Temple?  Was this some form of outreach, for which the Jews are not particularly noted?  Surely, these questions were going through the minds of the Jewish religious authorities, who appear later in the story.

Yet, as surprising as it is that Jesus was even there, what is even more surprising is the way in which this miracle took place.  For once again, rather than praying a certain prayer, reciting a spell, or laying hands on the affected part of the body, Jesus simply gives the paralytic a command, a command that demanded both a decision and action on the part of the paralytic.  In the first sign, obedience was the key.  In the second sign, blind faith.  Is the key to the third sign action?  Please read along with us from the World English Bible:

After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel went down at certain times into the pool, and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. A certain man was there, who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.”

Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”

Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked.

Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.”

11 He answered them, “He who made me well, the same said to me, ‘Take up your mat, and walk.’

12 Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat, and walk’?”

13 But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place.

14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them,“My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” 18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.


After coming to terms with Jesus going to the bathhouse on the Passover, we must examine what happened carefully, and understand what it may mean for both ourselves and for those whom we are called to serve.

The paralytic had been sick for 38 years, probably most of his life, if we had to take a guess.  We do not know how long he had been coming to the pool, hoping to step into the water first when the “angel” stirred up the water in order to be healed. Not unlike the healthcare system today (which takes its symbol from Asclepius), there seemed to be an interminable wait to be healed.  Furthermore, due to the large demand for free healing which could only be had, it seemed, via the benevolence of the “angel” at the pool, it seemed that the paralytic may age to the point where it may have appeared to most that a perfectly good healing was wasted on someone too old to enjoy it.  As such, there nobody at the pool was willing to lend him a hand.

Christ healing the paralytic at Bethesda, by Palma il Giovane, 1592.
Christ healing the paralytic at Bethesda, by Palma il Giovane, 1592.

The man may have become dejected by his prospects.  However, at the pool, he found a strange sense of satisfaction knowing that indeed there were those there who were worse off than he was.  In time, he had given up begging to be placed into the pool, and sat there, each day that spring, comparing his state infirmity to that of others.  If he could not be well, he would gain satisfaction knowing that there were others worse off than he was.  This is what the human mind resorts to when it has been robbed of all hope, and it is death.

Then, Jesus walks up and asks him, “Do you want to be made well?”

The man surprisingly answers, not in the affirmative, but with an excuse, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.”  Again, when a person has been devoid of hope, they tend to spend their time creating emotional defense mechanisms, commonly known as excuses, to explain their inability to change their circumstances, usually by blaming the inaction of others.

Jesus understands from the reply that asking direct questions will only lead to more excuses from the man.  Instead, he gives him an assignment, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”  Would the man accept the assignment?

It seems simple, right?  But for the paralytic in Jerusalem on the Sabbath (the Passover, no less), it is an impossible task for two reasons.  First, the man is paralyzed, he has not “arisen” under his own power for perhaps 38 years.  Second, and more importantly, he had been taught from his youth that he was not to take up his mat on the Sabbath.

Jesus was asking the man to not only relinquish his internal defense mechanisms (and swallow his pride), but to do the impossible and break God’s command as interpreted by his religious leaders.  This is an extremely difficult assignment.

The man takes the assignment, and is healed.

When considering healing in this instance, it is interesting to note not only what Jesus did to heal this man, but also what he did not do.  He did not:

1.  Lay guilt upon the rest of the people at the bathhouse for not helping the man get to the pool.

2.  Ask people on the behalf of the man to please help him get to the pool.

3.  He and his disciples did not take the man down to the pool themselves

4.  He did not recommend that the man go to see a real physician

5.  He did not pray for the man, lay hands on him, or send him to the religious authorities to be prayed over

What he did do, with few words, was to help the man to understand his problem.  The man perceived that his immediate problem, beyond his physical ailment, was that he could not get into the pool.  If only he could get to the pool, he would be healed.  As getting to the pool proved elusive, he began to blame the lack of action by others for his inability to be healed.

The man’s real problem, as Jesus pointed out, was that he had given up on taking any sort of action on his own for his healing.  In a world where there is always a medical solution if “we just had the money,” as well as someone else to blame for our personal problems, this lesson is especially poignant.

In doing this, Jesus not only healed the man of his physical ailment, he began to heal the Jews of the web of rules that they had weaved in a vain attempt to observe the Ten commandments and the myriad of other rules that they attempted to observe.

For the Ten Commandments can only be truly observed when one understands that they are completely incapable of living by them.

For abstaining from lifting certain objects under certain circumstances does not help one observe the Sabbath, but taking daily action to provide for oneself and others allows all to live eternity in the Sabbath rest that Jesus offers.


Not surprisingly, the Jewish authorities, upon seeing the man walking with his mat, in complete obedience to Christ’s word; therefore completing his assignment, chastise the man for breaking the Sabbath rules.

Jesus later encounters the man and gives what would become a familiar command to those who he has made well, even today:

“Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

When the Jewish leaders discover that it was Jesus who made the man well, rather than marveling that such a thing should be done for a man lame for 38 years, they take the opportunity to deride Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.

This would be the first of many instances that Jesus would expose the moral impoverishment that in those days passed for observing Gods law.  It was for this reason that the Jews sought to eliminate him.  For the Golden Rule had no place in their economic or religious system as they played a dangerous balancing act of pleasing the Romans and protecting their heritage.

Jesus was offering them a way out, but they were to far down the road of compromise.  They were a nation sitting by the bathhouse, waiting for an “angel” to stir the waters when Jesus walked up to them.

What would they do?

Stay tuned for the fourth sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for December 19, 2012

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Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda: The third sign

12/17/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

If you have just recently joined us here at The Mint, we are exploring the seven signs that Jesus performed which are related in the Gospel of John.  We recommend that you begin by reading Changing water into wine:  The first sign, and Healing of the Official’s son:  The second sign, for additional context, as well as bookmarking or subscribing to The Mint for updates as we move through this important series.

We are finding that each sign appears to have a central theme, an overarching lesson that Jesus was teaching.  Perhaps this is why John chose these seven out of the seemingly infinite miracles of Jesus that he had witnessed.  In Changing water into wine, Obedience appears to be central to the operation of the Miracle, in the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”

In healing the Official’s son, the operation of blind faith, believing without seeing, is required, “Go your way. Your son lives.” is Jesus’s response as the Official pleads with Him to journey from Cana to Capernaum to heal his son.

Today, as we begin to examine the third sign, the healing of the paralytic at Bethesda, we must be attentive to the presence of an underlying theme, for it is becoming clear that John selected each miracle carefully, and is recounting each one in order to give us something of eternal value, something that we can use today.

In the book of John, the narrative of the third sign immediately follows that of the second sign, beginning in John, Chapter 5, verses 1 – 17.  It begins with Jesus returning to Jerusalem.

The return to Jerusalem

As we pick up the narrative, we find that Jesus has gone to Jerusalem for the second time during his earthly ministry (we know that he went once before with his parents at twelve years of age, making it technically the third time).  This time, Jesus goes to Jerusalem in full view of the religious authorities.  The observant reader will recall that after His Passover first visit, Jesus and his disciples were run out of Jerusalem by the Pharisees for what may be called “excessive baptisms.”  This time, Jesus would have the first of what would be many direct confrontations with the Jewish religious authorities.

Which Feast?

In relating this sign, John does something that at first appears to be an uncharacteristic oversight, he forgets to tell the reader which particular feast of the Jews that Jesus is attending.  This apparent oversight has led come commentators to conclude that Jesus had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate Purim, which would have occurred in early March.

However, it is more likely that the feast that John referred to, or didn’t refer to, as it were, is actually the second Passover that Jesus attended during his earthly ministry.  This can be inferred both positively, in that the Passover was referred to as the “Feast of the Jews” and that the explicit Passovers mentioned in John 2:13 and 6:4 require an extra year between them.  This interpretation also allows for the harvest seasons mentioned in Mark 2:23 and 6:39.

It can be inferred negatively as well, in that Purim was not considered a religious feast of the Jews (it would be akin to the 4th of July, in a very stretched metaphor), and that it is unlikely that, due to the climate in Palestine in early March, that the sick persons by the pool would be lying in the open air.

The final arguments against the feast being Purim lie in the narrative itself.  As Jesus performs the sign on the Sabbath, for which the religious take exception to Him, and the feast of Purim cannot be celebrated on the Sabbath.

The greater question, perhaps, is why did John, who meticulously recorded the name of the other Jewish feasts in his gospel, omit the name of this particular feast?  For an answer, as well as beautiful insight into the importance of John, we turn to Dr. William Milligan in the “International Lesson Commentary”, who is here quoted in Volume III–John of B.W. Johnson’s “The New Testament Commentary,”

Why did John, whose custom it is to mark clearly each festival of which he speaks (see 2:13, 23; 6:4; 7:2; 10:22; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:39; 19:14), write so indefinitely here? The only reply that it is possible is that the indefiniteness is the result of design. The Evangelist omits the name of the feast, that the reader may not attach to it a significance that was not intended. To John,–through clearness of insight, not from power of fancy,–every action of his Master was fraught with deep significance; and no one who receives the Lord Jesus as he received him can hesitate to admit in all his words and deeds a fulness of meaning, a perfection of fitness, immeasurably beyond what can be attributed to the highest of human prophets. Our Lord’s relation to the whole Jewish economy is never absent from John’s thought. Jesus enters the Jewish temple (chapter 2:4). His words can be understood only by those who recognize that he is himself the true temple of God. The ordained feasts of the nation find their fulfillment in him. Never, we may say, is any festival named in this Gospel in connection with our Lord, without an intention on the author’s part that we should see the truth which he saw, and behold in it a type of his Master or his work. If this be true, the indefiniteness of the language here is designed to prevent our resting upon the thought of this particular festival as fulfilled in Jesus, and lead to the concentration of our thought on the Sabbath shortly to be mentioned, which in this chapter has an importance altogether exceptional.”

The significance of the Pool

The Pool of Bethesda.  Up until the 19th century, when archeologists uncovered the site of the pool where Jesus performed this sign, there was no evidence outside of the Gospel of John that the pool existed.  This lack of evidence caused some to argue that the Gospel was written later by someone who did not have first hand knowledge of Jerusalem and chose to use the pool in a metaphorical sense.

The discovery of the pool by archeologists in 1856 did wonders for the credibility of the Gospel of John.

As it turns out, the pool, which was first mentioned in the 8th century BCE, was formed when a dam was built across the short Beth Zeta Valley, creating a reservoir.  The pool is mentioned in two other Biblical texts 2 Kings 18:17 and Isaiah 36:2, where it is referred to as the “upper pool”:

17 The king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great army to Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.


The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to king Hezekiah with a large army. He stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool in the fuller’s field highway.

As well as in Isaiah 7:3:

Then Yahweh said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you, and Shearjashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field.

The Bethesda Pool Today
The Bethesda Pool Today

A second pool was then added on the south side of the dam around 200 BCE.  In the first century BC, caves to the east of these pools were turned into baths as part of what was know as an asclepieion, a Roman healing temple dedicated to the god Asclepius.  The symbol for this god of medicine, healing, rejuvenation, and physicians is used today as the symbol for the American Medical Association and is ubiquitous in medical settings.

The site was brought inside the walls of Jerusalem by the expansion of Herod Agrippa around 50 BCE.  The pools, which had been constructed to bring living water into Jerusalem, had been turned into a pagan bath house whose waters are thought to have healing powers.  Naturally, it was crowded with those hoping to become well.

Today, the site of these pools is in the Muslim East Jerusalem near the ruins of a Crusader church which was completed in 1138 CE on a site that what was thought to be the birthplace of Jesus’ grandmother, Saint Anne.

So Jesus, on the Passover, the holiest of all Sabbaths, goes to the pagan bath house, which also happens to be the site that representatives of the Assyrian army stood and publicly humiliated Hezekiah, the King of Judah, before Jerusalem was invaded by them in 701 BCE.  Furthermore, according to later tradition, is near the grotto where his grandmother was believed to have born.

The pool at Bethesda ia a very interesting place, and Jesus has chosen to go there on the Passover.  What would he do?

Stay tuned for more of the third sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for December 17, 2012

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