Have you ever shown off how strong or capable you are for others?
As a man, I enjoy being able to open stubborn jars and tear boxes apart (with my bare hands!) in front of my wife. Maybe it’s a testosterone thing.
But am I only wishing for her to love me because of my “power” or because of me?
Believe it or not, we can approach Jesus and face a similar question. Are we following Jesus because of what He can do (for us), or because of Who He is?
As we continue in the Gospel of John, we read in John 4:43-54:
After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.
Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.John 4:43-54
New International Version
Jesus had spent time in Samaria after the events surrounding the woman at the well (covered in John 4:1-42). Now he heads back to Galilee. This was familiar territory for Jesus. This was home.
At first, they seem to actually welcome Him. Jesus was, in a sense, becoming a bit of a celebrity. Celebrities attract a lot of attention.
But it wasn’t attention Jesus was seeking.
Their faith was based on their interests being piqued, not their hearts being pricked. There’s a huge difference.
And then a man approaches Jesus, a man of importance. He was likely a nobleman in the service of Herod Antipas (who was not truly a “king” but was popularly referred to as one) and this official begged Jesus in verse 47 to “come and heal his son, who was close to death.”
This was a very public setting Jesus was in. “Would He go?” “Could He heal the boy?” “Would He heal him?”
Remember, their so-called faith in Jesus was closer to being impressed by a magician. As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” And maybe these were those kinds of people—duped into an easy belief by a few miracles.
I’m not denying the miracles—they happened. I’m denying their faith because of Jesus’ response in verse 48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” Hopefully, your eyes catch the word “signs” but here—exclusively—it is used very differently. It’s linked to the English word “wonders”. It appears nowhere else in John’s Gospel and is meant to confirm the shallowness of their belief.
They wanted magic from Him. They wanted to be impressed. Their thoughts must have been something like, “Impress us with this healing and we’ll believe you’re the Messiah”. But Jesus wasn’t into conjuring up magic for the sake of attracting a crowd.
He heals the official’s son with the simple command of “Go…your son will live” (verse 50). Instead of jumping through the hoops set up for Him by the people, Jesus created a crisis of faith for this man. He had to believe and depart.
What are you seeking? Are you seeking the miracles of the miracle-maker? Is Jesus some kind of magician for you or is He your Lord?
Are you liberated by your belief or are you stuck at the crossroads of obedience and what your eyes can see?
Are you desiring the power of Jesus for your life or Jesus?