Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 3 * BOOK 16
THE EIGHT SIGNS
Let’s continue with the eight signs in the Gospel of John which were directed to the Nation of Israel. You are beginning to see that Jesus’ teachings were primarily directed to the Nation of Israel. When you can see that teaching, you are becoming a Bible student. Christ hadn’t died yet; they didn’t even have an idea that He would die, let alone be raised from the dead. So what was their Gospel? What were they to believe? That He was The Christ coming in fulfillment of those Old Testament promises and covenants. Every Jew that Jesus deals with is a Law-keeping Jew. The Temple is still going. Josephus tells us that up to a million animals a year were being sacrificed at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. When we get to the Book of Acts, I’ll show you that these believing Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah are still all Law-keepers. No one has told them to quit going to the Temple or stop keeping the Law. In Chapter 22 of Acts Paul tells about his experience at Damascus. He refers to Ananias as a devout man after the Law. That is seven years after Pentecost. Peter didn’t want to go into Cornelius’ house because Cornelius was a Gentile and Peter said so in Acts 10:28.
“And he said unto them, `Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation;'”
The same thing before that when the sheet came down and The Lord said, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” And what was Peter’s reaction? “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” And why hadn’t he? He was a Law-keeper. There are so many that don’t want to see these things because they would have to teach differently than what has been passed down to them. These are not my words, the Bible says them! We need to study what The Word really says, and not what someone tells us it says.
As we deal with these signs in John’s Gospel, yes, it’s the eternal, Creator God that is performing them, but He is pointing them to the Nation of Israel to show them their dire need before He could fulfill all those Covenant promises. We looked at one of the signs in the last lesson, when Jesus turned the water into wine and filled the water pots to the brim. This indicated when He brings joy to the Nation of Israel it’s going to be full. Let’s look at verse 11 again:
“This beginning of miracles (signs) did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” Even the disciples need signs and miracles to cement their faith. The next sign is Chapter 4, the nobleman’s son.
“So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum (he wasn’t dead, but he was sick). When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death (he didn’t have a lot of time left).”
Where was Israel at this time? Just exactly where this sick son was. They weren’t dead, but they were in dire straits spiritually. Their religion had been totally watered down, It had so far departed from the early Mosaic system, and yet they thought they were religious, but they were spiritually sick nigh unto death. Who alone can restore their national health? The Messiah! So here is the sign.
“Then said Jesus unto him, `Except ye see sings, and wonders, ye will not believe.’ The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, `Go thy way: thy son liveth.’ And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” It wasn’t just that the son raised from his sick bed;it was a sign to the Nation of Israel that if they wanted to be restored to their national health, and receive all the promises given in the covenants, then the Messiah was the One that had to do it. Verse 54 is a clue how we are supposed to study the rest of the Book of John.
“This is again the second miracle (sign) that Jesus did,…” If the Bible is delineating that the miracle at Cana was the first sign and this is number two, what follows? Number three. Then look for number four, because Scripture has already given you the introduction to what we are to do. The third sign we find in Chapter 5.
“AFTER this there was a feast of the Jews: and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” Remember He was up in Cana of Galilee for the first two signs but now we find Him in Jerusalem for the third.
“Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool,…”
The last one was the picture of Israel, that she was sick, as we saw in the nobleman’s son. Now we come to the impotent man and it’s one of the intricacies of Scripture. The impotent man is associated with sin, as is the blind man, and they both are associated with a pool. Those are just little tidbits of Scripture that I think make things very interesting. None of the rest of them mention sin. It shows their need, but it doesn’t necessarily reveal the fact of sin. That pool indicated a need for cleansing as pointed out previously, and that is why there was so much washing in their religious ritual.
“In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.”
What other period of time in Israel’s history was 38 years long? The wilderness. It’s close to the forty we like to think of, and forty in God’s dealing with Israel is a time of testing. So I think this impotent man has a correlation to the testing of the Nation of Israel.
“When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, `Wilt thou be made whole?'”
Who is He really asking? The Nation. Are you ready for Spiritual help? Are you ready for the King? Are you ready for the Kingdom? They aren’t. A few of them are as we see, but the Nation wasn’t, because they wouldn’t believe Who He was. It’s so interesting; they are so religious, and mindful of the Law that when Jesus raises the impotent man, and tells him to pick up his bed and go his way, what day of the week was this on? The Sabbath. These Jews were in an uproar, because Jesus had healed this man on the Sabbath day.
These religious leaders were so religious they were blind to common sense, they would rather have seen this poor guy stay in his infirmity than break the Sabbath – that’s what religion does. Religion today is still ridiculous. You will never find anything any more practical than Pauline Christianity. The letters of Paul have set people free, and put us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It has given us an insight into The Word like no other people have ever had. All because of that finished work of the Cross.
I want you to see as we go through these eight signs, that we will be constantly advancing on a previous sign. For example, remember the first one at the marriage at Cana where there was no joy, and everything was empty and hopeless? By the time we get to the eighth sign we will have a net full of fishes. And although it was so full that under ordinary circumstances it would have broken, what happens here? It didn’t break, and not a fish was lost. We will explain that one when we get to it. But it’s an advance on this one. Here the pots are filled with wine to complete their national joy. When we get the net full of fish it will be a picture of the re-gathering of Israel. And we’ll see that in Ezekiel 37 – and when God gets ready to re-gather the children of Israel is the net going to break? No way. Is He going to lose one or two? No way.
In Luke 4, Jesus told the disciples to let their net down on the other side of the boat and they did, and the net was so full that it broke. And they lost their fish. But not this time. Now, back to the unfolding of the signs. In the second one, the nobleman’s son is sick and by the time we get to Lazarus, he’s dead. This is the direction that the Nation is going – from bad to worse. Then, when you come down to the impotent man next to the pool, sin is the problem. The advance on the impotent man is this one down here again next to a pool, again with sin in the reference. Now what is he? He’s blind. Which is even worse than being impotent. The two in the middle I’ve sort of paralleled them together, and these both just manifested His power as being the God of Creation: one by feeding the five thousand with the loaves and the fishes and the other by walking on the sea. And it wasn’t the walking on the sea that was such a manifestation as His being able to control the elements.
Now to Chapter 6 – the feeding of the five thousand. Just like there is a pool in the impotent man’s and the blind man’s account which we will be looking at, sin is in both accounts. But on these next two that I have locked together we find Jesus going up into a mountain. I think this is indicative of just how beautifully everything unfolds and yet ties together. That in these two signs Jesus departs into a mountain and in both of them He manifests His power.
“And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, `Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ And this he said to prove him (Philip): for he himself knew what he would do.”
In other words, Jesus knew the end from the beginning. And He knew He would feed these five thousand before the situation ever presented itself. You know the account of how He fed them and they gathered up the 12 baskets full that were left over. He could more than supply all of Israel’s physical needs. Because of Who He was. Now, the next miracle of Him walking on the sea in verse 15:
“When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” Both signs begin with an experience in the mountains.
“And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea. And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, `It is I; be not afraid.’ Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”
What happened? The ship was miraculously transported from where they were on the sea to the shore, and we know there was no reason to fear. Both of these miracles are right in the middle of the eight signs, and both were showing that He was the powerful Creator-God over everything. Now let’s quickly move on to the next one, which would be the blind man in Chapter 9.
“AND as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.”
How long had he been blind? From day one. Hold that in your memory bank, because when we get to the account of Lazarus I want to make a point. Think back in Israel’s history, all the way back to the patriarchs. To the call of Abraham. Did they ever enjoy all the promises? Never. A little while seemingly under David and Solomon, but even then they were under heavy taxation. Their kids were drafted into the army, they were under the typical rule of a typical king, and they didn’t enjoy happiness they way they will when the Messiah rules. So we have this man that was blind from birth, and I think this is a picture of the Nation.
“And his disciples asked him, saying, `Master, who did sin (remember there are only two of these signs where sin is mentioned. The impotent man and now the blind man and they tie together), this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?'”
“Jesus answered, `Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me…, As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, `Go, wash in the pool of Siloam(which is by interpretation, Sent),’ He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”
Go back to Zechariah 13 for a moment. I think this will help you see what I’m trying to show you. All of this is directed to the Nation of Israel. Indicating her near-term rejection, and falling away from all of these prospects. Yet in the long term God is still going to fulfill all of these sign aspects of His dealing with Israel. Remember the blind man, he went to wash in the pool of Siloam. He had been blind since birth, until the Messiah came. And here is prophecy.
“IN that day (when The Lord sets up His Kingdom and Israel has all the promises fulfilled) there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” What will God do? He will cleanse and forgive them, and they will come into all the glory of the Kingdom. But as yet they are out there in their spiritual blindness. Now back to John’s Gospel, and proceeding through this chapter the Pharisees and the Jews are constantly accusing Jesus of being a demon.
“Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day (many people aren’t any better today. They want something that shows their spirituality, yet on Monday morning they are just as deep in the world as they can get. They think that hour in church is going to rectify everything. But you see that’s religion, not Christianity. The truly spiritual is that which flows from within, and we try to manifest it all week long, and not just on Sunday morning). Others said, `How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.'”
Move on to Chapter 11. We’ve come through the blind man which was healed of blindness which he had since birth; sin is mentioned as well as with the impotent man; they were next to the pool which indicated a need for cleansing. Now to Lazarus and he’s dead.
“Then when Jesus came, he found that he (Lazarus) had lain in the grave four days already.”
What does I Peter say in regard to a day in God’s mind? A thousand years is but a day, and a day is but a thousand years. So, picking up the analogy that we are dealing with the Nation of Israel just like the blind man who had been blind since birth, how long has the Nation of Israel literally been spiritually dead? 4000 years. That takes you back to Abraham at 2000 B.C. So, I think the four days of Lazarus’ death is an indication that Israel, nationally, is spending 4000 years spiritually dead. But what will happen at the end of the 4000 years? She will be brought back to life. I realize this is a little bit backwards, but come back to verse 6; hopefully you are getting the picture. But here in verse 6, word came to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, and they knew that if Jesus would come that He could heal him.
“When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he (purposely) abode two days still in the same place where he was.” And then what will He do? He will go to where Lazarus is and raise him from the dead. Look at the Book of Hosea for a moment:
“COME, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.” The pronouns here are the Nation of Israel.
“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”
What are the two days? Well the two days since the Cross is how long? 2000 years. What’s going to be the third thousand years? The Kingdom. See how beautifully this all fits. Now, back to Lazarus for a moment. He calls Lazarus forth. Does Lazarus contribute anything? Nothing. Remember he came out of the tomb. And that is the picture of Israel. One day they are going to be called back to life, nationally, and we will get to it in our next lesson.