Some (rambling) thoughts on Trinity 21

Jesus seems to decry signs and wonders in John 4 (for us Michaelmas skippers), saying to the man who want’s his son healed, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” But perhaps it only seems that he is decrying signs and wonders because we remember His rebuke that an adulterous generation asks for signs. I say ‘seems’ because the evangelist writes that, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (Jn. 20:30-31)

In light of 20:30-31, it ‘seems’ that signs and wonders are a good thing and that they are a catalyst of belief.

Perhaps the difference is that the man didn’t ask for signs and wonders in order to believe, but asked for healing for his son because he did believe. Prayer is born of faith. On the other hand, the pericope concludes with the man discovering that his son was healed the hour when the Lord said to him, “Your son will live,” so that “he himself believed, and all his household.” The man believed because of the sign of the water into wine AND because of Jesus’ words. Who’s to say which faith is right or wrong when both led the man to seek and honor the Lord, asking for His blessing and compassion?

The pericope entangles the signs and words of Jesus together so intricately that you don’t have one without the other. Jesus performed signs so that the disciples believed on Him, also saying that His words are life. It seems John emphasizes belief that Jesus is the Son of God who gives life in a way that isn’t all that familiar to us as Lutherans. We prefer to have Jesus believed on as the one who forgives our sins – taught by John especially on the lips of St. John the Baptist – stressing the words of Jesus, even sometimes saying that if we don’t believe that Jesus forgives us all our sins by His blood, then believing that He is the Son of God is a moot point. Indeed, faith comes from the external word, but sometimes that word says something by signs and wonders and sometimes by forming words and syllables.

The point is that the Son of God came to dwell among us to lead dead men to life. After all, dead men can’t drink wine.

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