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The Seven Signs Through the Eyes of John

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The Seven Signs Through the Eyes of John

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

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

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%
FED Target Rate:  0.17%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
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

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

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%
FED Target Rate:  0.18%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
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 Official’s son: The second sign

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

Today we continue our series on the Seven Signs of John with the second sign, Jesus’ healing of the official’s son.  First, we must pause to remember the eternal lesson from the first sign, the changing of water into wine that the wedding in Cana of Galilee:  “Do what he says,” for miracles are born out of obedience.

And now, the second sign.

The Journey

Jesus had just returned from Jerusalem, where he had educated Nicodemus on the mechanics of spiritual rebirth at the Passover feat.  On his journey home, Jesus had done something that deeply troubled the Jewish religious establishment of the day, He had taken the more direct and mountainous route home to the Galilee by passing directly through the territory known as Samaria.

This was shocking, because the religious amongst the Jews in those days who resided in Jerusalem went to great pains to avoid setting foot in Samaria, which they saw as the epicenter of paganism and worse, a misguided worship of the One True God, YHWH.

For this reason, when travelling from Jerusalem to the Galilee, they would cross over to the east bank of the Jordan river and go north until they had passed by the Samaritan territory, at which point they crossed back over to the west bank and reached Scythopolis, where they would continue their journey into the Galilee.  This religious quirk added up to 40 miles, or in those days what would have been a hard two days journey, to what was already a three to four day ordeal.

The religious take the long road, as Jesus shows us the straight and narrow
The religious take the long road, as Jesus shows us the straight and narrow

However Jesus not only took the more direct route, he encountered a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and engaged her in conversation, an utterly shocking breach of protocol that caused even His disciples to question what he was doing.  We can only imagine that Jesus did not shake the dust off of His feet after reaching the Galilee, the custom of the religious Jews who were forced to tend to unavoidable business in Samaria, and therefore were forced to “defile” themselves by setting foot on Samaritan soil.

Blind Faith via Shock Therapy

Jesus was returning to the Galilee from Judea, where, as mentioned above, he had attended the Passover and, while there, began to turn the Jewish religious system on its head.  In fact, so many people believed in Jesus as the Messiah as a result of His teachings during the Passover that his disciples were baptizing even more people than John the Baptist, who the Jewish religious leaders had previously seen as their main rival.

As a result of this, the Pharisees, a sect of the Jews who believed in the resurrection of the dead, were planning to come after Jesus, hastening His flight back to the Galilee.

After passing through Samaria en route to an imagined quiet retreat into the Galilee, Jesus found that a great number of people in the Galilee had witnessed the signs he had done during the Passover for they, too, were there.  His reputation has preceded Him, and peace was to prove elusive for the rest of His days on earth.

Under these circumstances, Jesus returned to Cana as a type of rock star.

While in Cana, Jesus was approached by a certain nobleman who asks Jesus for a favor that would become known as the second sign which is related in John 4:43-54:

43 After the two days he went out from there and went into Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast, for they also went to the feast. 46 Jesus came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine. There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and begged him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.”

49 The nobleman said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 As he was now going down, his servants met him and reported, saying “Your child lives!” 52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” He believed, as did his whole house. 54 This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.

Now the nobleman’s son was lying on his deathbed in Capernaum, a town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he encountered Jesus in Cana.  Under the circumstances, we can assume that the nobleman made the 20 mile journey inland specifically to make this appeal to Jesus.  The nobleman would likely have have been prepared to offer his life savings to Jesus if he would come to Capernaum and heal his son.  In Jesus he saw his only hope of saving his son, and he was doing what any loving father would have done under the circumstances.

In this delicate state of mind, the nobleman was about to be shocked, for he was about to learn the difference between hope and faith.  For hope, while poetic, leaves room for doubt. Faith is the opposite of doubt.

For this reason, instead of lovingly agreeing to accompany the man to Capernaum, He rebukes him, “unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.”  The man, still in a state of shock, as were Jesus disciples, makes a last ditch effort, now with a bit indignation, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus then shocks the man, who has moved from hope to indignation, into faith as He replies “Go your way. Your son lives.”  In this moment, through Jesus’ words, the nobleman understood that, if he believed that Jesus had the power to heal his son, it would follow that Jesus could do it without having to be physically present.  The nobleman understood, at this moment, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Jesus was Lord.

The nobleman then knew Jesus in the same way the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 knew that Jesus was Lord, through the operation of blind faith.  The difference between the nobleman and the centurion was that Jesus offered to come to the centurion’s house, which was perhaps not coincidentally also in Capernaum, and left it to the centurion to profess his blind faith which was operating to heal his servant.  The nobleman had no such faith to profess, until Jesus shocked him into it.

Where the nobleman needed his blind faith to be awakened, the centurion needed only ask Jesus and it would be done.

May it be said that in Capernaum, the Lord showed us that blind faith is enough.  When faith and obedience are operating together, there is no limit to what can happen.

Stay tuned for the third sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 12 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.69
Oil Price per Barrel:  $86.77
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.21
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.70%
FED Target Rate:  0.17%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,712
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,245
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,457,800,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,275,200,000,000

The Gospel of John – Jesus’ seven signs

12/6/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today, we shift gears a bit as we prepare for what will be a very important teaching coming up early next year:

The Seven Signs of John

The Gospel of John is unique in that it contains a plethora of dialogue attributed to Jesus, the Son of God, which are generally set apart in Biblical texts by using a red font.  It is rivaled only by the Gospel of Matthew in this respect.

We have previously explored what we consider to be John’s unique trait and compared him to one of the prophets, Isaiah, who shared this personality quirk:  He was eagerly awaiting the Jewish Messiah.

Today, we will begin to explore the material in the Gospel of John that we are to teach.  The seven miracles of Jesus that John chose to include in His Gospel.  The miracles are important, for John wrote the Gospel near the end of his long life, sometime between the years 90 and 100 CE (He is presumed to have died in 100 CE at 94 years of age), almost 70 years after Jesus had walked the earth.

John witnessed many miracles performed by Jesus, as he was with him throughout his earthly ministry, beginning with his (Jesus’) baptism by John the Baptist.  John witnessed so many miracles that he saw fit to state in his Gospel,

20:30 Therefore Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; 20:31 but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”

So why were these seven signs chosen by John, who perhaps knew Jesus better than anyone while He was walking the earth?  It is the aim of this study to answer this question.

What are the seven signs?

The logical place to start, then, would be to identify the seven signs.  According to most Biblical scholars, yours truly included, the seven signs refer to the following miracles which John chose to relate:

  1. Changing water into wine in John 2:1-11
  2. Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
  3. Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-18
  4. Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
  5. Jesus’ walk on water in John 6:16-24
  6. Healing the blind at birth in John 9:1-7
  7. Raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45

From a quick glance at the list, we can see that three of the miracles involve various types of physical healing, two of them involve providing for material needs, and one is a supernatural physical feat.

The final miracle, the resurrection of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, must stand alone, as it is the astounding and meaningful miracle that has ever been recorded.  It is astounding not only for what took place, but for the fierce reaction which it brought from the religious authorities.

For with this Miracle, Jesus provided an irrefutable proof that He is the Son of God, and it was for this miracle that the religious authorities resolved to kill Him.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.  As with any great journey, we must begin with the first step.

Changing water into wine:  The first sign

Shortly after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he called his first disciples, Andrew and John (the author).  What is interesting is that Andrew and John actually followed Jesus on John the Baptist’s declarations.  As such, they were not called, rather, they recognized who Jesus was, the long-awaited Messiah, and went after him.

Andrew then went and found his brother, Simon (who Jesus promptly renamed Cephas, or Peter).  The next day, Jesus was determined to go out into Galilee, where he found Phillip, who then went out and found Nathanael.

At this point, we understand that Jesus had five men whom are called  his disciples, yet the only one who he personally sought out was Phillip.

This is important, because it shows that, while Jesus did get up and pursue someone, four of his first five disciples started following him because others saw Jesus and recognized him as the son of God.  Let us not diminish the task that Christians have been given in fulfilling the great commission!

Our teacher, Bettie Mitchell of Good Samaritan Ministries is fond of illustrating this by showing us that while we are looking up to God, crying out for Him to “DO SOMETHING!” God is shouting back down at us “DO SOMETHING!”

It is a profound truth that God does not want subjects, He wants partners!

It is not surprising, then, that Jesus almost never performed a miracle without requiring an action or actions which require the individual to exercise faith.  In fact, in most of the signs, Jesus performs the miracles not as a helicopter parent who is making sure that everything is perfect for everyone, rather, he performs the miracles reluctantly, not because he does not desire a positive outcome, but because he is training those who desire and see in him the possibility of a miracle to walk in faith and courage.

Our first example, then, is when Jesus changes water to wine, a miracle that Jesus openly declares that he does not want to perform:

2:1 The third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. 2:2 Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the marriage. 2:3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.”

2:4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.”

2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” 2:6 Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jews’ way of purifying, containing two or three metretes apiece. 2:7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” They filled them up to the brim. 2:8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the ruler of the feast.” So they took it. 2:9 When the ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and didn’t know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the ruler of the feast called the bridegroom, 2:10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!” 2:11 This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Apart from Jesus’ reluctance to intervene and the faith it must have required on the part of the servants to take the water, which had been poured in what today may be been referred to as a kitchen sink or a wash basin, and present it to the master of the feast as wine, there is one other curiosity in this narrative which deserves further consideration.

Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh, watercolor by James Tissot 1836-1902
The first sign of Jesus, turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, has a harrowing parallel to Joseph saving many by providing for grain during the famine in the Near East, circa 1708 BCE
Painting “Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh”, watercolor by James Tissot 1836-1902

This curiosity consists of the exact words that Mary uses to instruct the servants to listen to Jesus.  While at first they seem trivial, “Whatever he says to you, do it,” we find in them both a simple requirement for the reception of a miracle, as well as an intricate link with the miraculous survival of the Jewish race some 1700 years earlier from a famine in Canaan:

For the words, “What he says to you, do,” are found not only in John 2:5 above, but also in Genesis 41:55.  In Genesis, they are spoken under much different circumstances…or are they?

The phrase that Mary invokes parallel the instructions that Pharaoh gave to all of the Egyptians when they began to cry out to him for grain during the famine in the Near East.  “Go to Joseph, What he says to you, do.”

As we cry out for a miracle, we would do well to pause, listen, and “Do what he says,” for miracles are born out of obedience.

Stay tuned for the second sign and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 6 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.61
Oil Price per Barrel:  $86.40
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.48
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.58%
FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,700
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.9%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,074
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,457,800,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,275,200,000,000