Short Meditations in John 2: 19. Initial Belief
Jn 2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name
If we are honest, this is one of those annoying verses that leave us wondering. What miraculous signs? Isn’t it interesting; as John looks back and reflects on all that happened at that time the thing that stuck in his mind was the fact that at that point a lot of people were believing in Jesus simply because of the things he did there. What those things were, weren’t the big issue for John. Jesus had done so many in the overall picture of his three years of ministry, that a few here in Jerusalem didn’t feature big. In fact when you look at John’s Gospel he only speaks of the miracles that he considered were ones that acted as signs for those who really wanted to know about Jesus.
The fact that Jesus had performed miraculous signs there in Jerusalem didn’t fit in with John’s intent, to only pick out a limited number of things that unequivocally pointed to Jesus being the Son of God. These things that Jesus did in Jerusalem at this time certainly pointed him out as someone special and for the moment many people followed him. But John’s design is to only record certain things that stood out to him that he could use to point out to the wider world in the centuries to come that would speak volumes about Jesus.
We have already noted, “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee.” (2:11) A little later, back in Cana again after healing an official’s son, John records, “This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.” (4:54) Whether that was the second sign up there in Cana in Galilee or simply the second that John wants to use to show who Jesus was, is unclear. After the first one we read, “He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (2:11) and after the second one, “So he and all his household believed.” (4:53)
After these things that happened in Jerusalem (whatever they were), “many….. believed in his name.” So belief was the end product of each of these signs, whether the specific ones used by John, or the general ones he simply mentions in passing. The difference between these general ones and the specific ones, seems to be these create belief in large numbers of people and crowds start acting over-emotionally. Later on a crowd would start suggesting they make him their king. Stirring up ‘group belief’ was not Jesus’ intention; in fact it could act counter to his final plan to be rejected.