In John's gospel, seven signs (miracles) are recorded "to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in His name" (Jn 20:31). These signs, worked by Jesus, are:
- changing water into wine at a wedding (Jn 2:1-12),
- a remote healing of a royal official's son (Jn 4:46-54),
- curing a man who was ill for thirty-eight years (Jn 5:1ff),
- multiplying the loaves and fishes (Jn 6:1-14),
- walking on the water (Jn 6:19),
- giving sight to the man born blind (Jn 9:1ff), and
- raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1ff).
After Jesus' first sign, "His disciples began to believe in Him" (Jn 2:11, RNAB). Then, "many began to believe in His name when they saw the signs He was doing" (Jn 2:23, RNAB). However, Jesus recognized an innate problem with working signs: our sinful human nature. He observed: "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you do not believe" (Jn 4:48). Additionally, people either looked for more and more signs (Jn 6:30) or misinterpreted the signs because they were not seeking the truth (Jn 9:16). The end result was: "Despite His many signs performed in their presence, they refused to believe in Him" (Jn 12:37).
So Jesus gave one final sign: the sign of the cross. Jesus, God Himself, set aside His power (Jn 18:6, 11), stretched out His arms, was nailed to a cross, suffered in agony, and died to atone for our sins. He rose from the dead in power and majesty, and gave us the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:22). This sign had power. This sign broke through the hard hearts. "Lift high the cross!"