by John Lowe
16 October 2005
46 In the course of his journey through Galilee, he arrived at the town of Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in the city of Capernaum whose son was very sick.
47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea and was traveling into Galilee, he went over to Cana. He found Jesus and begged him to come to Capernaum with him to heal his son, who was about to die.
48 Jesus asked the man, "Must I do miraculous signs and wonders before you people will believe in me?"
49 The official pleaded, "Lord, please come now before my little boy dies."
50 Then Jesus told him, "Go back home. Your son will live!" And the man believed Jesus’ word and started home.
51 While he was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well.
52 He asked them when the boy had begun to feel better, and they replied, "Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!"
53 Then the father realized it was the same time that Jesus had told him, "Your son will live." And the officer and his entire household believed in Jesus.
54 This was Jesus’ second miraculous sign in Galilee after coming from Judea.
Today, we are going to look at a conversation that Jesus had with a government official that led to a miracle in his life.
This man heard from God in a crisis, and since we too face crises in our lives, we too need to hear from God. As this story unfolds it suggests several positive principles for hearing from God in a crisis.
1. FOCUS ON LISTENING TO GOD. (Not just looking for a miracle.) We’re used to the adage, "Seeing is believing", but this story suggests a better teaching: "Hearing is believing." We’re often looking for a miracle when God wants us to be listening to His Word!
After the official stated his problem, Jesus continued the conversation with a question in verse 48, "Must I do miraculous signs and wonders before you people will believe in me?" The question is aimed at the man’s expectations. At first, this royal official thought Jesus had to travel back to Capernaum with him, a distance of approximately twenty miles over the Judean hills. He believed Jesus must physically touch his son in order to heal him. Jesus wanted to know if the man would have to see a miracle in order to believe in Him - or, would he take Jesus at His word? Would he hear and believe, or did he have to see to believe?
Don’t overlook the fact that Jesus’ question was plural: "Must I do miraculous signs and wonders before YOU PEOPLE will believe in me?" He was speaking to more than just this one individual, because He said, YOU PEOPLE. He was sad because of the spiritual condition of His own people, the Jews; specifically the citizens of Galilee, where He grew up. We know this because of something else the Bible reveals, just before this conversation between Jesus and the official. The verses just before our text reveal that, “After two days he left for Galilee.”
Now, Jesus knew from experience that a prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up. So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, NOT THAT THEY REALLY HAD A CLUE ABOUT WHO HE WAS OR WHAT HE WAS UP TO."
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, but He grew up in Nazareth, in Galilee. As He returns to His home turf, He’s keenly aware of the barrier he must breach to get these people to believe in Him. They watched Him grow up, and during all of those years, He hadn’t performed any miracles. Of course, the reason for not having previously performed any miracles was, "His time had not come". This fact was mentioned by John concerning Christ’s first miracle, and he mentions it seven times altogether in his Good News account. Up until this time, Jesus was just the son of a carpenter to the Galileans, not the Son of God. When Jesus was growing up, He purposely operated under the radar. So the Galileans didn’t understand who Jesus really was. Like many people today, they dismissed Jesus because they really didn’t know Him.
This story is about getting to know Him—not just getting something from Him. It’s about hearing from Him in a crisis—but many of the Jews thought that the only way they could hear from God was through a "sign"—though a miracle. Paul later reiterated this problem in 1 Corinthians 1:21-23.
21 For God in his wisdom saw that the world would never find God through human brilliance, and then he stepped in and saved all those who believed his message, which the world calls foolish and silly.
22 It seems foolish to the Jews because THEY WANT A SIGN FROM HEAVEN AS PROOF THAT WHAT IS PREACHED IS TRUE; and it is foolish to the Gentiles because they believe only what agrees with their own philosophy and seems wise to them.
23 So when we preach about Christ dying to save them, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
That’s why Christ pluralized the question. The failure to listen to God, because we’ve already got our minds made up, is a universal problem. "Must I do miraculous signs and wonders before you people will believe in Me?" "Must I fit into your mold? Must I conform to your expectations? Or...will you believe in Me because I say something is true? Will you believe my WORD?" This question doesn’t imply that Jesus doesn’t want to come to our aid when we’re facing a crisis. He most assuredly desires that we approach Him when we need His help. The question is intended as positive reinforcement for believing without always requiring a sign. And for believing in Him before our problems are solved, not just after.
John uses seven "signs" in his Good News account to provide a foundation for faith, but our faith is not to be based on an excessive interest in miracles. We need to balance our thinking—not to belittle miracles, but to encourage belief in God’s Word. We miss a lot of the great work that God wants to do in our lives because we’re not paying close enough attention to the Word of God. Jesus didn’t have to travel to Capernaum with this official to heal his son, and the father didn’t have to witness the miracle to believe in Jesus. If Jesus said it was going to happen—it was going to happen. We don’t have to "see it to believe it". All we have to do is hear God say it to believe it! If you read it in the Word of God, believe it! Memorize it - meditate on it - mold your life around it!
The big problem, then and now, is that most people are confused about what faith is really all about. Their concept is usually one of two extremes. One extreme says, "I will believe ONLY what I can see." This leads to the danger of being a superficial believer. This was the problem with the Galileans. They didn’t know Jesus—they only knew ABOUT Jesus. That is the condition of some "professed" Christians today. They think they are a Christian because they know ABOUT Jesus. You are not a Christian until you know Jesus.
Jesus wanted this man to have what He wants all of us to have. He wants us to have a relationship with Him—He wants to be our friend. He wants us to know Him. He wants us to have a relationship with Him based on the fact that we believe in Him. He wants us to know Him, not just know what He can do. The other extreme says, "I will believe EVERYTHING I hear." That’s not true faith either. That’s why John presented seven "sign" miracles in his Good News account, and stated that Jesus did many more signs and miracles that weren’t recorded. (John 20:30-31) There is plenty of evidence to support faith in Jesus; overwhelming evidence—indisputable evidence! Fulfilled prophecies, the harmony of the Scriptures, changed lives, and yes, the miracles of Christ, to name a few. Faith is not kissing your common sense goodbye—it is coming to your senses! Yet you don’t have to believe everything that you hear that is "supposed" to be spiritual truth. You can, however, believe every word of Christ. You can trust every word of the Bible because it is God’s Word!
This royal official believed it because he heard Jesus say it, not because he saw it. Verse 50 says—“...the man believed Jesus’ WORD and started home.” We need to follow this man’s example. We need to live in the assurance that if God’s Word says it, then we can believe it. When we face a crisis we need to look for what God wants to say to us, not just what we want Him to do for us.
After His resurrection, when Christ showed Thomas the wounds on His body, and then suffered on Skull Hill, dying for our sins, Thomas then believed. But remember how Jesus responded? We’re told in John 20:29; “Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway." So the first positive principle for hearing from God in a crisis is: Focus on listening to God.Secondly,
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