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Why were the signs so controversial at that time? John uses the term Semeia meaning signs, to describe the miracles Jesus performed.

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Introduction

Why were the signs so controversial at that time? John uses the term "Semeia" meaning signs, to describe the miracles Jesus performed. The synoptics however chose to use the term, "Dunameis" meaning mighty works. This shows that John wanted to emphasise that it was not the actual event that was most important but the significance behind it. In Jesus' miracles, the truth that he is the Son of God is pointed out . These signs however caused controversy, conflict and condemnation. This is mainly because what Jesus was saying was controversial to the conventional Jewish belief at the time. Jesus described his signs as "Erga" meaning works. He told the people, "My father is working and I am working too" (John 5:17) He was working to show the people that he was the Son of God and was offering eternal life and forgiveness to those who believed. To the Jews, this was blasphemy, as they did not believe that he was the Son of God. They found it hard to believe he was the messiah because they thought the messiah would be someone who would free them from the Romans; a strong, brave warrior. ...read more.

Middle

This controversial point is also seen in the healing of the Official's son. An Official would have collaborated with the Romans and therefore, to not only perform a miracle on an Official's son but to offer him eternal life was challenging to Jews. Jesus was showing in this sign that he had come to offer salvation to anyone, including Gentiles. The Jews thought that they were God's chosen people and so therefore to say that salvation was for anyone was very controversial. Jesus was saying once again that Judaism was wrong and Christianity was here to overrule. The laws were very important to the Jews and in the cripple at the pool sign, this is what Jesus is emphasising. John writes about the fact that there were five covered colonnades, which "John intended to signify the five books of Moses which were ineffective for salvation" (Marsh). In the sign John also writes about how the crippled could only be healed if they touched the water when it stirred. The man was never able to get to the water and was therefore never healed. ...read more.

Conclusion

The sign when the man who was born blind was healed again was controversial to Jews. In this sign Jesus was showing that, like with the cripple at the pool, he was healing on the Sabbath, and therefore breaking the law. He says that the man was sent blind, by God the Father so that he could perform the miracle so others would believe. This is mirrored in Isaiah 35:5 "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped". This was blasphemy to Jews and was controversial as in this sign he was simply saying that he was the Son of God and that, in him the Old Testament was fulfilled. In the raising of Lazarus, Jesus marks the end of the old Israel, and the birth of the new: Lazarus died as a member of the old Israel and came back to life through Jesus. In the same way, the death and resurrection of Jesus would enable readers and watchers to rise from death to eternal life. This, like in the other signs, was controversial for Jews because it went against all they believed in and meant that effectively God's laws, and therefore Judaism itself was ineffective. ...read more.

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