My latest book began nearly two years ago, when my niece asked me to officiate at her wedding. Reading through the lovely passage in the Gospel of John when the Lord changed the water into wine at Cana in preparation, I was captivated.
The more I studied it, the more I wanted to remove my shoes, for I knew I was standing on holy ground. I also knew this miracle was only the first of seven “signs” in this Gospel. And being a writer, I was immediately attracted to the possibility of writing a book about them. I was especially intrigued when it dawned on me that God had given these miracles as proof of who Jesus is.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book,” John says; “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” (John 20:31).
These seven signs have an evangelistic purpose—to convince us that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, so that we may have eternal life. John suggests the seven signs offer sufficient evidence to believe, proof, if you will—at least if we are open-minded.
Why seven signs? Why not one . . . or 100? First, the number seven in the Bible signifies perfection or completeness, as in seven days in a week, seven churches, seven spirits, and so on. The seven signs, John says, are sufficient to make the point. Second, seven is a recurring theme in John—there are also seven “I am” statements, for example. Third, while the other Gospels offer more of Jesus’ miracles, these seven are chosen specifically to reveal “his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). God is proving His case through the seven signs, which point to Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and only Son of God.
However, the signs do much more than offer evangelistic proof, as if they were simply parts of a mathematical equation or elements of a physics formula. They reveal Jesus as the One who walks with us through all of life: while we celebrate, on our sickbeds, in our disabilities, amid our feasting, in our dangers, alongside us in our spiritual searching, and when we face our deaths. In all these things, they point the way to a vibrant, life-changing faith. These have renewed my own heart, too.
I believe “The Seven Signs of Jesus: God’s Proof for the Open-Minded” has the potential to draw many, many people to Christ—including some precious people you know. In a time when biblical truth seemingly is up for grabs, it will speak powerfully to Christians and non-Christians alike.
And let’s face it—in a world that’s becoming steadily more religious, America is becoming steadily less so. According to the Pew Research Center, “The ‘nones,’ a category that includes people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is ‘nothing in particular,’ now make up 23% of U.S. adults, up from 16% in 2007.”
So why try to reach secular people with a book about Christ’s miracles?
The fact is, most people already believe in miracles, or at least are open to them. According to a Gallup poll from 1995, a full 79 percent of those polled (including a whopping 86 percent of women) believe that miracles are real. Only 12 percent don’t believe in them, while 8 percent aren’t sure.
Such willingness to believe in the amazingly improbable is entirely justified, by the way. In fact, one might even call it scientific. Eric Metaxas, in his bestseller “Miracles,” points out the utter improbability of the universe itself—which is perhaps the biggest miracle of all. Metaxas discusses the scientific concept known as “fine tuning,” which recognizes the incredibly balanced values for the initial or fundamental forces of the universe, such as gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.
Metaxas quotes astrophysicist Hugh Ross, who says that “an analogy that does not even come close to describing the precarious nature of this cosmic balance would be a billion pencils all simultaneously positioned upright on their sharpened points on a smooth glass surface with no vertical supports.”
It would appear that belief in miracles is no more religious than the atheistic conviction that all this just happened by chance. And the fact is, most of us, deep down, want to believe in something bigger than ourselves. In answer to the perennial question, “Is there any purpose to existence?” we ache to say “yes” with integrity.
We all have longings that bubble up from somewhere deep inside our hearts—longings for home, love, adventure, significance, even holiness. Christian thinkers have pointed to these longings as evidence that we were made for something better and higher than our earthly existence, as amazing as that is in itself.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy,” C. S. Lewis once said, “the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
We can get a glimpse into that other world using “The Seven Signs of Jesus.” Each chapter looks at one of the seven signs through two lenses: (1) how it proves that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, and (2) how it reveals the presence of Jesus in people’s lives, especially those committed to Him.
The commitment Jesus seeks is akin to a marriage, perhaps like the one at Cana. In matrimony, we join our heart to someone we think, based on evidence, will be a good and loving partner. But we don’t know this to be true until we actually make the commitment and begin our life together. So we walk down the aisle in hope.
We are invited to do the same, spiritually speaking, with Jesus—who created the new wine of the kingdom, who saved a dearly loved son from death, who healed a man lame for 38 years, who multiplied a boy’s lunch to feed thousands, who came to his terrified disciples on the water, who gave sight and faith to a man born blind, and who raised a dead friend back to life before rising Himself.
You know, or want to know, that there is no one else like Him in this whole miraculously improbable universe, and there never will be. You see the good wine of the kingdom and long to drink it. So come to the wedding. You are invited.
Image courtesy of Pinterest.
Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is “The Seven Signs of Jesus: God’s Proof for the Open-Minded.”