The only miracle recorded in all four gospels is the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitudes with a few small fish and a handful of bread. It was an extraordinary miracle all right because Jesus took the lunch of a small boy and multiplied it sufficiently to feed thousands of people. He simply took the boy’s lunch and gave thanks and distributed it to his disciples who in turn distributed to the multitude. Even after all the people had eaten, there were 12 basketfuls left over (John 6:1-12).
The Apostle John calls Jesus’ miracles signs because he believes these miracles are sign posts pointing us to Jesus. All human beings are attracted to extraordinary happenings. Just look at how people follow the sports and Hollywood stars. Even within Christianity miracles grab people’s attention, and whoever performed the miracle can claim instant fame. John clearly saw miracles differently than most. He saw them as simple sign posts that point us to the real thing—the ultimate miracle worker—the Son of God.
Paul Tripp does a fine job of illustrating the absurdity of falling in love with the miracle and never pursing the miracle worker. A sign simply points to what it was made for, the place or person you want to find. Nobody taking a vacation to Chicago stops at the first sign and believes they have arrived at the destination. They don’t say, “We’re here kids, unpack the car.” You keep driving until you get to the actual destination.[i]
The people who experienced the miracle of the feeding of the 500 did just this. They thought the miracle was the destination. The next day they found Jesus and wanted more bread, more miracles. Jesus, however, didn’t give them anymore. Instead he confronted their erroneous view of the miracle and told them they were searching for bread that will perish and never satisfy (John 6:21-36). Just think about this for a moment, could anything be more tragic than these people who experienced the miracle but didn’t see the sign to keep following Jesus.
Jesus is the destination. He is the reason for living. Whatever good happens—even if it is miraculous, remember it is just a sign to keep following Jesus. He is our savior and our soon coming king. There is no other. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). The satisfaction we all long for in life comes from Jesus.