John was present at both events and recorded them as “signs,” not miracles. The synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke shared similar stories of what Jesus did, while John wanted the reader to know who He is. “But these [his words] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah [Savior], the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). “Very truly I [Jesus] tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
Of the wedding in Cana John wrote, “What Jesus did here…was the first of the signs through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed Him.” Goaded by His mother to salvage a party where drink had run dry, Jesus replied cryptically, “My hour has not yet come,” but chose to comply. He turned the water for ceremonial washing, stored in six stone jars, into 300 gallons of choice wine. The “master of the banquet” was amazed that the bridegroom had saved the best for last. Did Jesus suppress a smile that he got the credit, knowing that in the wake of His impending “hour,” His righteousness would be credited to the unrighteous as a gift of faith? (John 2:1-12)
A crowd of mourners had gathered in Bethany to comfort Mary and Martha in their sorrow over their brother’s death. Certain of His love, they had sent for Jesus to raise Lazarus from his sickbed, not the grave. “If only” you had come right away, they remonstrated with Him in their grief, with Martha cautioning that the stench of decay was present. Jesus had intentionally delayed His departure for their village. But before fully revealing the plot, a perceptive John prefaced his account with the seventh and last sign to authenticate Christ’s divinity. “… Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’” Even so, “Jesus wept” as He stood at His friend’s grave. (John 11:1-44)
The resurrection of Lazarus alarmed His religious enemies and hastened the “hour” of Christ’s crucifixion. This culminated in the GLORY of hostile humanity reconciled to their holy Maker, with the Son as the willing Substitute in obedience to His Father, suffering heaven’s full wrath against sin. In John 12:41 we learn that it was Jesus whom Isaiah saw enthroned in glory 700 years earlier. In Isaiah 25:6-8 the prophet shared a vision of Calvary that evokes striking images of both wedding and funeral. “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces…”
COVID-19 is dishing out death and distress at newly alarming rates. Believers do well to feed attentively on God’s living Word, to fuel the faith that starves the fear. Having “crossed over from death to life,” they are blessed to know who Jesus is – and qualified to share with the disheartened their personalized gospel of His signature GLORY!