Last night Norma Jean and I were blessed to attend the opening session of the annual Florida College Lectures.
Phil Robertson delivered a powerful keynote address that emphasized Jesus’ miracles as signs from John’s gospel account. It was a lesson that enlightened us with a unique view regarding the purpose of Jesus’ miracles. It encouraged us to a deeper, stronger faith in the Deity of Jesus. And it inspired us to be more. Do more. And show the world what faith in Jesus really means in our lives.
Phil observed that “John wrote his gospel with a specific goal in mind: mold the heart of the readers with the powerful stories and compelling lessons so that belief in Jesus Christ would be the only conclusion.”
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31).
There are four profound points from this passage that Phil pointed out.
(1) “These signs encompass all that is needed for the readers to know the total message.”
Phil’s lesson was based on the idea that the signs were a sermon. The miracles were a message. Jesus’ wonderful works and supernatural powers not only confirmed his credibility as a messenger of God but that He Himself was God. They established His authority.
But even more than that each miracle had a message that spoke to our need to not only believe in Jesus but to trust Him. Follow Him. Love Him. Serve Him. Truly see Him.
(2) “These signs are written. The reader does not need visual evidence.”
Our culture today is obsessed with visual media. But there is power in the written Word of God. As Phil said, “miracles never saved anyone, but the Word of our Lord does save and always will save” (Ax 11:14; Jam 1:21; Jn 5:24).
(3) “These signs lead men to believe that Jesus is the Christ.”
“All the signs in John’s gospel point to messages about Jesus’ character, personality, authority and mission.” Jesus did not perform miracles for show or to show off.
Yes, His signs were spectacular, so that even his critics had to admit that He did wonderful works. They saw “that water became delicious wine. The lame leaped for joy. The deaf heard the voices of loved ones. The mute shouted praise and appreciation. The demon possessed were freed from chains of psychotic prisons. The dead awoke and walked out of their tombs.”
To those who witnessed Jesus’ mighty deeds and to those of us who read about them they lead us to exclaim like once doubting Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”
(4) “These signs point to life in his name.”
Jesus promised that He came to provide us with an abundant life. Not just in this world, but in the one to come. As John affirmed in the beginning of his treatise “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn 1:4).
When we read about His miracles and really understand and believe them, we will see Jesus’ “personality, His power, and His purpose.” And we will respond with faith, obedience, and commitment.
In a unique twist on the topic, Phil correctly observed that “all miracles are signs, but not all signs are miracles.” For example, the rainbow is a sign of God’s promise to never destroy the world again with a great flood. The Passover lamb was a sign. And so was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But they weren’t miracles.
While none of us can perform miracles, our lifestyle can demonstrate our faithfulness and commitment to Christ and be a sign to the unbeliever, pointing them to Christ. Our lifestyle can be the embodiment of an often used quote: “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary use words.”
Thank you Phil for being a sign to us last night. You’ve inspired me to be a better sign.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman