There are no miracles in the Gospel of John. Well, at least he does not call them as such. John assiduously avoids calling them miracles, preferring to call them “signs.” In fact the first part of the Gospel of John is called the “Book of Signs” – and there are seven.
- Changing water into wine in John 2:1-11
- Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
- Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-18
- Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
- Jesus’ walk on water in John 6:16-24
- Healing the man born blind in John 9:1-7
- Raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45
Each sign is meant, not only to grab your attention, but to serve as a pointer, to a choice. But that has been the motif in the Gospel of John all along, following the words of the Blessed Virgin Mother in the story from Cana. Her last words in the Gospel of John are the clearest and most poignant sign: “This is my son, do what he tells you.” And from that moment, choices are made, to follow or not follow the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ.
From the sign in Cana, turn the page. When Nicodemus encountered Jesus, he was given a choice to be born again or be born from above. Nicodemus misses the sign and thinks it points to him. In this encounter, Nicodemus does not choose well, but it works out, he eventually becomes a believer.
In gospel from the 3rd Sunday in Lent, when the Samaritan women encountered Jesus she was given the choice between flowing water and living water. The Samaritan women understands the signs points to Jesus and she slowly begins to understand who he is: a holy man, a prophet, and eventually that he is the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah. She follows the signs, it leads her to truly see Jesus, and she in turn becomes the Apostle to the Samaritans and many come to encounter Jesus because of her testimony.
In last week’s gospel, the man born blind encounters Jesus, is given the gift of sight and called to testify – not only to Pharisees, his parents, his neighbors, but also himself. The man speaks of the Living Word of God and in the course of the dialogue every one chooses. They can deny, run and hide, equivocate, or believe. From this initial encounter, this initial witness, all are given choices to looks at the signs and to truly see to whom they point.
Today, the sign of the raising of Lazarus. The disciples, the local people gathered, Martha, and Mary, all are witnesses and they will all face the choice to believe or not. To believe in the sign, to see that it points to the person of Jesus, whose message is clear: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
We all know and have heard these stories from John’s gospel. The opening words are familiar. “In the beginning was the Word…” The same Word that was the means of making covenant with the people of Israel. The same Word that came as a light for all men and women. The same word that was life-giving. The same Word that carried the power to heal. The same Word that was with God, was God and became the revelation of God to the people. The same Word that shines the light judgment. The same Word that came to the prophets like Hosea and Joel and challenged them to choose: to turn away or to accept the Word and go forth and give it to others. That same Word came and “pitched his tent among us” as one of us.
- That Word came to us as Jesus.
- The signs of Johns Gospel all point to him.
- Have pointed to him since you first heard the stories as children.
- Have pointed to him to each time these accounts in John’s Gospel were proclaimed.
- Pointed every time in your hearing.
But… have you chosen?
Have you chosen to trust the stories, that Jesus is exactly who he says that he is: the resurrection and the life.
And in the choosing to become the Samaritan women who told others, or the man born blind who testifies when challenged, or the disciples, the Martha’s, the Mary’s, the Lazarus’ who have been raised from what entombs them in this world, or even the modern Nicodemus who did not get it the first time around. But today, this today, choose to trust, to follow, and to listen to the Living Word of God, to Jesus who will say, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21). And then choose again, again, and again to pitch your tent among the people, to lead them to covenant with God, to be a light in the life of others, to be a source of life and to heal. To be the revelation of Christ to others that they may choose. In their own way, their own time, and to begin their own journey to faith. Maybe they will be Nicodemus. Maybe the Samaritan woman. Maybe Lazarus. That is for them to choose
Today your choice is whether you will let your manner of living, speaking, and loving, become a sign for others. Will you point to Jesus?
It is your choice.