Here’s Your Sign

January 30, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

John 2:18

The temple leaders almost sound reasonable (rather than the responsive anger we might expect from them) as they ask Jesus, in effect, “What gives you the right to regulate Temple practices?” Their criteria for someone who exercised authority without a history of being a priest or even a known and respected rabbi was that He would perform a “sign” – give them a display of miraculous power that would demonstrate He had Heavenly authority. Of course, He had recently given such a “sign” at the wedding in Cana, so we (the readers of John Chapter 2) know He has the ability, and the apparent willingness to demonstrate it, but Jesus would not be provoked into showing off when such signs, though miraculous, would not engender true saving faith in Him, nor serve to heal or help someone who was in distress.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

John 2:19-20

This is a somewhat common occurrence in the Gospel of John, where Jesus reveals a spiritual truth, and the listeners misunderstand and think He is talking crazy or at least expressing earthly and material, rather than spiritual, ideas. Plus, we have, in this instance, the benefit of an editorial comment from the Holy Spirit through John:

But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

John 2:21-22

This makes for a good segue into how Jesus thought about those who believed in Him merely because He could do miracles, rather than because of His teaching and divine revelation.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

John 2:23-25

These verses look forward to issues that are about to be addressed in John Chapter 3. First, Jesus had divine omniscient knowledge of what other people thought and what was in their hearts. He could read minds, and He knew people better than they knew themselves. He did not “entrust” Himself or “commit Himself” to superficial “believers” the way He did to His true disciples. This helps to understand a little more about Jesus’s famous encounter with Nicodemus which begins Chapter 3.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:1

The idea is that Nicodemus was a chief teacher.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:2

There are various theories as to why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, other than the possibility that it might just be noted for us as an instance of accurate reporting. Perhaps he was embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid to be seen consorting with this non-Pharasaical rabbi – or with the dangerous loose cannon who caused a scene in the Temple. On the other hand, perhaps Nicodemus merely wanted to speak to Jesus without the interruption that was more likely to occur during a daytime visit. In either case, the darkness of night is most likely a metaphor for Nicodemus’s spiritual darkness, located here in close proximity to passages of Scripture which highlight Jesus as the Light of the World. Nicodemus can probably be classified (because of his statement about teachers who are truly from God being able to do miracles) as one of those who “believed” only because of those miracles.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Why does Jesus basically ignore Nicodemus’s initial statement? Because He “knew what was in” Nicodemus. Nicodemus’s real need wasn’t to find out whether Jesus was a true prophet, or truly sent by God to do miracles, or even to learn from His teaching. His real need was a new hearta new birth – some basis on which He could enter – or even see! – the God of the Kingdom of Whom the Pharisees and their chief leaders thought they were the closest and the best representatives!

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  1. […] to the third day after the call of Nathanael (John 1:45-51). Jesus performed the first miracle (sign) of His earthly ministry at a wedding in Cana – a wedding to which He had been INVITED. Jesus […]

  2. […] who are truly seeking a destination are not satisfied with a sign that points to the […]

  3. […] had already gloried His own name through Christ, primarily through His miracles, and, secondarily, through Christ’s perfect obedience and consistent attribution of His own […]


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