Friday, June 17, 2016

What are the sevens of John? Interlude after Part 2

Strangely enough, a study of the gospel of John reveals many lists of sevens. In this series, I hope to show many of them. Which, of course, leads to an interesting question. We do know from Revelation that John shared much in sevens. There are the seven thunders, the seven horns, the seven seals, the seven eyes, the seven trumpets, the seven angels, etc. We note and appreciate all the sevens and they teach us that there is a completeness in the sense of final perfection to all the judgments of wickedness. But for me to find this many sevens in John is surprising, and all the more so to me because John has long been my favorite gospel and I thought I knew it very well.

What led me to this fascinating study was the unconscious realization that sevens were occurring in several places. Once I began to list them, one thing led to another, and I began to see sevens in many more places. The interesting question to look at now becomes: did John think in sevens? I know that he was so definitely inspired as he wrote the gospel, but did he unconsciously think of things in sevens? I cannot be sure about the answer to that, but I am sure that there are a great many lists of seven things in the gospel, which may surprise people as much as it did me. I will do each list of seven things in a multi-part series.

Comparing the seven I am statements with the seven miracles.

When I first began compiling the sevens of John, I tried matching the seven I am statements with the seven miracles. In some cases, the match seems to be so right—in other cases, not so much.

The seven I am statements of John
1. John 6:35
I am the bread of life.
2. John 8:12
I am the light of the world.
3. John 10:7
I am the door of the sheep.
4. John 10:11
I am the good shepherd.
5. John 11:25
I am the resurrection, and the life.
6. John 14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
7. John 15:1
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

And his statement of being Jehovah:
John 8:58
Before Abraham was, I am.

The seven miracles of John
1. The miracle at Cana of Galilee -
John 2
2. The miracle of the healing of the nobleman’s son
John 4
3. The miracle of the healing of the lame man at Bethesda
John 5
4. The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000
John 6
5. The miracle of walking on Water
John 6
6. The miracle of healing of the blind man
John 9
7. The miracle of raising Lazarus
John 11

In my match-ups this is what I came up with. It is easy to see that some of them fit very well, while others are of a more questionable nature. Nevertheless the ones that seemed to connect made it a worth-while Bible study for me, and hopefully will do the same for you.
1. The miracle of Cana of Galilee
This miracle is the first for Jesus, who gives honor to his mother in letting her choose the miracle to begin his ministry. The best match for it is “I am the true vine.”

2. The miracle of the healing of the nobleman’s son
This healing takes place remotely—that is, Jesus heals the son without being in his presence. Thus, it shows the omnipotence of Jesus. Perhaps the best fit for this is “I am the door of the sheep,” but I cannot help but notice the great I am statement of Jesus might be an even better fit.

3. The miracle of the healing of the lame man at Bethesda
This healing takes place at the pool of Bethesda, a pool which the helpless lay around awaiting a miraculous healing. Thus, Jesus moved with compassion, singles out this poor soul and heals him. It best fits with “I am the good shepherd.”

4. The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand
This miracle occurs in the same chapter in which Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life,” and thus is an easy fit.

5. The miracle of walking on water
This miracle shows again the complete omnipotence of Jesus—even the sea succumbs to his need. The best I am statement for it is, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” It shows his power over creation itself, and thus shows that he is indeed the way, or the path, to find God.

6. The miracle of the healing of the blind man
This miracle fits really well with “I am the light of the world.” I think of all the times when Jesus talked to the Jewish leaders about their blindness, even as they were gazing on the light of the world.

7. The miracle of raising Lazurus
This climax of miracles in John reminds us, of course, of “I am the resurrection and the life.” It occurs in this chapter and is an easy fit.

I notice a few further things about the match-ups. In the third miracle, the miracle of the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, it was done on the Sabbath. Many of the miracles that Jesus did were purposely done on the Sabbath to show that Jesus was Lord or Master over even the Sabbath day—the day that the Jews felt most holy, and therefore prohibited work. The healing of the blind man in John 9 was similarly done on the Sabbath day, and violation of the Sabbath was an enormously huge thing to the Jews. John thus includes these two miracles, done on Sabbath days, but interestingly, John never makes the point as do the other Gospel writers, that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Perhaps John wished to present Jesus the Savior and God of Mankind. Certainly the climactic miracle, the raising of Lazarus, is so placed as to emphasize the Savior of the world. The raising of Lazarus is only eclipsed by the resurrection of the Son, the one who does have the power over death. The hope of the Christian is partly the constant look to Christ to make death start marching backwards. We live and hope for the day when we will hear his call.

Another interesting note is that John is the gospel writer to make it most clear that Jesus did exercise his lordship over the Sabbath, for according to this gospel it is easily evident that the famous last supper was celebrated a day early. John brings to clarity those things that happened during the last week, and devotes a third of his gospel to those very events. John makes it clear that Jesus, the Lamb of God, was killed at the very time when the Passover lambs were to be killed for the Passover (19:14). Since they already had the Passover meal the night when Jesus was betrayed, they must have celebrated the Passover early. Bible scholars have long noted the absence of the Paschal lamb, which is manifestly missing from all four gospels. There was no need of a lamb at the dinner, for the disciples had the Christ himself, who picked that very night to institute the practice of communion thus pointing to himself as being the sacrificial lamb.

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