Week 6 - Walking On Water
Sign #5: Walking On Water (John 6:16-21)
How do you communicate not only that you are the Messiah but that the Messiah is actually God incarnate?… Jesus knew that an unqualified declaration could easily spark a riot, bloodshed, and an abrupt and premature end to His ministry. Israel under Roman occupation was so highly strung that even the introduction of caffeine into the populace could have triggered a revolt or all-out war…
Instead Jesus, with imaginative subtlety, acted out his message. But if his goal was to demonstrate that he was God incarnate, why not fly? Or turn a mountain into meatloaf? Or people into crescent rolls? (I think I’m hungry.)
It could be argued that doing any miracle would have made the point about Jesus’ divinity, but that’s not really true… (because) miracles were performed by some of the great prophets of the Old Testament, so Jesus’ choice of miracles would need to distinguish him from the more mundane role of prophet. So why did Jesus walk on water? The answer is found in the Old Testament book of Job: He [God] alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. (Job 9:8)
To Jews in the first century, this verse was common knowledge—everyone knew that God alone treads the seas…And conversely, if He didn’t want people to arrive at this conclusion, this would certainly have been the last thing He would do. – Rick James, Jesus Without Religion
What else has Jesus done to prove to you that He is God? How has the Lordship of Christ changed your attitude and actions?
Video for Kids: Jesus Walks on Water
Video for Adults: Sea Walking
“When you feel like you’re drowning in life, don’t worry. Your lifeguard walks on water.” -Unknown
Week 5 - Raising Lazarus from the Dead
Sign #7: Raising Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:1-47)
When some people think of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, they are struck by the empathy and compassion of Jesus. After all, this is one of the only times recorded in scripture when Jesus wept. Other people, understandably, tend to focus on the power of Jesus. Resurrecting someone after he’s been dead for four days is a sure sign of His supernatural potency.
But perhaps the most important aspect of this passage is what it reveals about God’s perfect timing. When Jesus hears that his friend Lazarus is sick, instead of heading to Bethany immediately, He waits two days, (until Lazarus is already dead) before even beginning the trip. As Jesus and the disciples approach the village, both Martha and Mary come out to meet Him, saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” They had sent for Jesus but He hadn’t come in time.
But look at Jesus’ perspective about the purpose of His timing: “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it…I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe.” (John 11:4, 15)
Are you finding yourself in need of divine intervention? Have you been waiting for Jesus to answer your prayers and do what only He can do? How patiently have you waited? Maybe you’ve completely given up hope that He will show up at all. Maybe you think it’s too late for Him to help.
Trust His timing. He just might want to bring you life and bring Himself glory.
“Look at the deadness in your life. Look at the anger. How is that going to be turned into forgiveness? Look at the insecurity. How is that going to be turned into confidence? Look at the self-centeredness. How is that going to be turned into compassion and generosity? How? The answer is that the dead stuff gets taken over by the Spirit of God . . . The minute you decide to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit comes into your life. It’s the power of the resurrection—the same thing that raised Jesus from the dead.” Tim KellerJesus Without Religion, (InterVarsity Press: 2007)
Week 4 - Feeding the Five Thousand
Sign #4: Feeding the Five Thousand (John 5:1-15)
One theme in the gospel of John is how nobody really understands Jesus. And this scene on the Galilean hillside is a prime example: From his closest followers to the masses, people just don’t grasp who Jesus is and what He came to do.
First, consider Philip. When Jesus asks him, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” he looks at the substantial need and decides there’s no way they can meet it. He doesn’t consider that he is in the presence of the One who turned water into wine. Even Andrew, who notices that they have five loaves of bread and two fish, focuses on the meagerness of their resources and the enormity of the crowd, not the power of the Savior.
Lastly, the people in the crowd, who Jesus has just miraculously fed, for some reason think he is the prophet described by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 and are “ready to force him to be their king.” They see him merely as a political revolutionary, not for who He really is: the same God who provided bread for their ancestors as they wandered in the wilderness 1500 years prior.
How have you misunderstood Jesus? How many times have you looked at the seemingly insurmountable needs in your life with dismay instead of looking to the power, plan, and purposes of our miracle-working God?
Check out this video for kids:
And this video for adults:
“Once Jesus was gone, his disciples would be left to carry on the ministry. They would be responsible for meeting the spiritual hunger of the masses, and yet, in and of themselves, they were inadequate for the task. Spiritually speaking, they represented the equivalent of a few loaves and a smelly fish… When Jesus put them on the spot, they became painfully aware of their lack. As public humiliation often does, this provided a teachable moment. Jesus stepped in and demonstrated, by way of a miracle, that through God’s empowerment and provision they would have all they needed to accomplish their task—provided, that is, that God was always catering the affair. And later, as they gathered twelve basketfuls of leftovers, they would no doubt be sobered to the awesome responsibility and honor they bore as God’s chosen vessels to feed his people.” -Rick James, “Wonder,” Jesus Without Religion, (InterVarsity Press: 2007)
Week 3 - Healing a Lame Man
Sign #3: Healing a Lame Man (John 5:1-15)
Jesus encounters a man at the Pool of Bethesda who has been ill for 38 years. Jesus initiates a conversation with him and asks if he wants to get well. It seems like a ridiculous question—of course he would want to be healed. But this is another of Jesus’ questions intended to reveal a person’s heart. Maybe the man was actually comfortable and familiar with his disability. Maybe he was afraid of an unknown future without it. Whatever the case, John makes clear the importance of both God’s sovereignty and our free will: Jesus doesn’t force himself on the man but asks him what he wants.
The man’s answer implies that yes, he wants to be healed, and he explains to Jesus how it can take place. All he needs is someone to help him into the pool at the right time. And he’s right in assuming that Jesus wants to help him, but not in the way he expects. Instead of helping him go for a quick dip, Jesus heals him; instantly and entirely.
When asking God for something, we’re sometimes guilty of telling him how to fulfill the request. We prescribe the methods and means for him to work, when He might want to do so much more than we could ask or imagine. So let’s stop trying to micromanage God and trust that his ways are higher and better than ours.
Check out this video for kids:
And this video for adults:
“If we want to be healed, we must accept the Physician’s diagnosis, trust him, and obey his prognosis. We must accept the healing medicine of his divine grace. We must suffer the scalpel of the cross…We must stay within the hospital of the Church and obey our Physician’s orders. Finally, once we are healed, we must become agents of Christ’s healing in the world. Once we are cured, we must share the cure with others as Christ’s very hands at work. This is our hope and our task.” -Harrison Jennings
Week 2 - Healing of an Official’s Son
Week 2 – Healing of an Official’s Son (John 4:46-54)
Some theologians have proposed that this passage is the same event as the healing of the centurion’s slave (found in Luke 7:2-10). And while there are a few similarities (the healing at a distance, the location of the sick person), there are good reasons to believe that these are two separate events.
But don’t just take our word for it: study the scriptures for yourself and compare the differences. (Here’s what you might notice.)
|Healing of the centurion’s servant
|Healing of the official’s son
|The man making the request is a Gentile Centurion||The man making the request is in Herod’s service (probably a Jew)|
|The illness is paralysis||The illness is fever|
|The person healed is a slave||The person healed is a son|
|The elders plead for the man||The man pleads in person|
|Jesus speaks his word of power in Capernaum||Jesus speaks his word of power in Cana|
|The centurion’s faith is praised||The father’s faith is questioned|
|The centurion asks Jesus not to come to his home||The father begs Jesus to come to his home|
- Why does Jesus rebuke the Galileeans? What about their faith troubles Him?
- When have you asked Jesus for healing (either for you or someone you love)? How did He answer that request?
- How has seeing God at work in your life influenced your faith?
For more content, check out our Bible reading plan at centralsf.org/thelife.
Click the image below to watch a video from The Jesus Project.
“Signs and wonders do not save. They are not the power of God unto salvation. They do not transform the heart any more than music or art or drama which accompany the gospel… What changes the heart and saves the soul is the self-authenticating glory of Christ seen in the message of the gospel. But even if signs and wonders can’t save the soul, they can, if God pleases, shatter the shell of disinterest; they can shatter the shell of cynicism; they can shatter the shell of false religion. Like every other good witness to the word of grace, they can help the fallen heart to fix its gaze on the gospel where the soul-saving, self-authenticating glory of the Lord shines. Therefore the early church longed for God to stretch forth his hand to heal, and that signs and wonders be done in the name of Jesus.” -John Piper
Week 1 - Water Into Wine
Week 1 – Water to Wine (John 2:1-12)
What was it like to be the mother of Jesus? He probably didn’t grow up performing miracles but he wasn’t an average kid either. An angel announced his birth. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Mary had seen some stuff. So when there’s potential for a wedding reception to be ruined, she turns to her son.
At first glance, Jesus’ response might seem rude. But the phrase He uses is a common Greek expression used to imply that two things are not related. So He’s not expressing disdain, but distance. Jesus is insisting that if He acts, it will be in obedience to God: He won’t allow anyone, even his mother, to force his hand.
But the key phrase Jesus utters is, “My hour has not yet come.” For the next eight chapters, John will repeat that phrase again and again. Then, in Chapter 12, Jesus will say “the hour has come,” and He’ll head straight into Jerusalem to fulfill his mission. Jesus knows that what He’s about to do will start the countdown to his crucifixion.
As far as miracles go, this one is relatively private. Only a few people see what’s happening, but they’re the right people. This happens only one week into his public ministry, so Jesus’ disciples are probably still unsure as to what this rabbi is all about. So it appears that this sign—turning water into wine—is primarily to prepare them for three years that will change their lives.
In the next few weeks, our prayer is that you’ll see the glory of Jesus on full display and that your faith in Him will grow exponentially.
- In Ancient Palestine, running out of wine at a wedding was a big deal. The bride’s family could actually sue the groom for damages, and the new marriage would start off on rocky ground. Jesus saved this groom from shame and gave him a great blessing. Has Jesus done something similar for you? Do you believe he can?
- If you were one of the disciples and you saw this happen, how do you think you would have reacted?
- Have you ever struggled to trust Jesus? How does this story challenge you to trust him more?
For more content, check out our Bible reading plan at centralsf.org/thelife.
“God creates the vine and teaches it to draw up water by its roots and, with the aid of the sun, to turn that water into a juice which will ferment and take on certain qualities. Thus every year, from Noah’s time till ours, God turns water into wine. That, men fail to see...But when Christ at Cana makes water into wine, the mask is off. The miracle has only half its effect if it only convinces us that Christ is God: it will have its full effect if whenever we see a vineyard or drink a glass of wine we remember that here works He who sat at the wedding party in Cana.” C.S. Lewis, “Miracles,” God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970)
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