Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Life fully experienced: John's greatest sign

Many commentators have noted that in the Gospel of John, Jesus' miracles are called "signs" rather than "miracles". They aren't just done as magic tricks to impress people. John records them along with lots of other things Jesus said and did so that we "may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (20:31). I think a lot of people emphasise the first reason more than the second. I mean, they think the miracles are to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. But they forget or downplay the second reason -- that the miracles somehow help people to experience life.

Two of the biggest miracles in the book written by John are at the very beginning and near the end. At the beginning, John says that "the Word became flesh" (1:14). That is the hugest sign possible that God loves us. God became human because God wanted to be with us. Amazing! How is that possible? It's a complete miracle, not part of what happens within the laws of nature.

Halfway through the book, Jesus says the reason he came was so that we could have life in all its fullness (10:10). Life to the max! That's what God wants for us. That is, God came here to be with us to show how we can experience what it really means to live.

Then, near the end, Jesus breathes on the disciples and says "Receive the Holy Spirit" (20:22). This is a reminder that the on-going life of God -- the very breath (pneuma in Greek means both spirit and breath) of God -- is what gives us life. It is the breath of God in our lungs that makes us alive! That's also an amazing miracle. It is a sign that God is on our side: God is for us, not against us.

Isn't that an amazing flow of ideas from beginning (God takes on human life), to middle (Jesus says the reason he came was for us to have life), to end (Jesus breathes God's life into us)?

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