THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE #16

With Dale Ratzlaff

 

John 4:43-54

After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast. Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” The royal official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

After spending two days with the Samaritans, Jesus started toward His homeland in Galilee. The Samaritans had welcomed Jesus, and there is evidence that many of them expressed true, saving faith in the person of Jesus as “Savior of the world”. Now Jesus returns to Jewish country. Jesus knows the animosity of the Jews who were always seeking a sign and were continuously hostile toward His ministry.

For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

However, the next sentence states.

So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.

These Galileans received Jesus, not as the Messiah as did the Samaritans, but based upon the miraculous things Jesus had done at the Passover in Jerusalem. We know that Jesus did a number of “signs” or miracles that are not recorded in any of the Gospels. Near the end of John’s Gospel, he makes this fact clear.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written (Jn. 21:25).

Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine.

When Jesus made the water into wine, there is no record of any wide-spread acceptance of Jesus at that time. Rather, all we have is that this miracle was evidence for His disciples.

This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him (Jn. 2:11).

Jesus is going back there, perhaps to see if there could be a harvest from the seed He had planted earlier.

And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death.

The term, “royal official” has reference to a king, not a military officer. In this case the royal official doubtless was in the service of Herod Agrippa, who was often called “King Agrippa” by the Jews. This royal official had servants he could have sent to ask Jesus to come and heal his son, but his desperate need drives him to make a personal plea to Jesus for his dying son. “Was imploring” is in the continuous tense indicating that this royal official kept asking Jesus to come down and heal his son.

It is often the case that a near-death experience, or crisis of some other form, impels us to look outside of ourselves and seek help from another. Such is the case here. Nothing is said early in this encounter to make us think this royal official was seeking the truth of who Jesus was. Rather, he was willing to try anything to keep his son from death. He had heard of some of Jesus’ miracles, and that hope drove him to Jesus in his moment of desperation.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”

Even though Jesus is speaking to the royal official, he now widens the scope of those addressed. The “you” is plural in Greek, indicating that Jesus includes the Jews as a whole in His response. The fact that the Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures where many miracles were recorded was doubtless the thing that caused them to be looking for signs. Paul agrees with this general characteristic of the Jews.

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom (1 Cor. 1:22).

In the Gospel of John, we will find seven signs that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Savior of the world, yet with all these signs, the Jewish nation as a whole rejected Jesus. And here is a truth that has wide application. Many people today are still seeking signs. While “signs and wonders” may be evidences of God’s intervention, they should never be the basis of saving faith. When the church was in its infancy, we have the record that Phillip and later Peter and John went down to Samaria with the good news of the gospel.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing (Acts 8:5-6).

Later the church sent Peter and John to join Phillip in Samaria. These leaders laid their hands on the believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. Simon, who had practiced magic, saw all this and wanted the power or authority to do what the Apostles were doing. He even offered to give them money so he could perform these miracles. He doubtless wanted to add these “signs and wonders” to his “bag of magical tricks”. In answer to his request, Peter replied in the strongest terms that the idea of seeking signs for the sake of signs themselves was contrary to the truth of the gospel.

But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23).

In answer to Jesus’ statement that, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe”, the royal official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Here we see that this official was not seeking for “signs and wonders” themselves, like many of the Jews were. Rather, he was crying out for the life of his son. His faith was in what he had heard about Jesus and His power to heal. The official had concluded that Jesus must come down to see and perhaps touch his dying son. At this point Jesus gives him a sign that moves his perception of Jesus from just a healer to one that could heal from a distance by the spoken word without being present or touching his dying son.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off.

Here we see that the royal official’s faith is growing. He receives the words of Jesus and acts upon them with no further questioning.

As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household.

In this incident we see that Jesus did not reject the official’s imperfect faith; rather, the way He responded was in a fashion to help him develop a more perfect faith—faith in the person of Christ and not just in what Christ could do. Not only was his son healed, but his whole household believed. Probably his “household” included the servants who also saw this sign.

This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

The first sign John mentions was when Jesus turned water into wine. This was a powerful sign for His disciples. It represented Christ’s power over the elements of nature. Now in the second sign, Jesus shows that He has power over the human body, even affecting the royal official’s son by a long-distance word. The official wanted Jesus to “come down”. Jesus showed that he did not need to go to the bedside of the boy. The Eternal Word proclaimed in John 1 showed His creative power by the spoken word some miles away. This was, and continues to be, a powerful sign indeed.

 

Application

  • Today there are many people promoting and/or seeking “signs and wonders”. At one point in my years of ministry, I was involved for a short period of time with a group that promoted signs and wonders. If someone was not “slain in the Spirit”, spoke in tongues, or had a prophecy, they felt that God had not shown up. I began to realize that they were not focused on the gospel that was once for all delivered to the saints but were seeking the signs given to the Apostolic church to validate their ministry. I am not saying that God at times of His own choosing may not give visible evidence of his will and power, but our focus should be on the proclamation of the gospel, not on the visible evidences of signs and wonders.
  • When we experience some kind of a crisis, be it a near-death experience, or some other kind of tragedy, we would do well to ask ourselves, “Is God trying to get our attention?” It was such an experience that turned my life’s direction.
  • At times our faith may not be a perfect faith. Yet our Lord does not reject us. Rather, He wants to increase our faith to trust totally in Him and not in the visible evidence.
  • After Jesus told this official, “Go, your son lives,” John records that he “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off.” Here is an example for us. We are to believe the word of Jesus and act upon that word. Many of the miracles recorded in both the Old and New Testaments show that the supernatural event did not happen until the person acted upon the word of God.

Prayer

Father, my prayer today is the prayer recorded by A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance church, entitled “Himself”.

HIMSELF
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
Once ’twas painful trying, Now ‘tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once ’twas ceaseless holding, Now He hold me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting, Now my anchor’s cast.
Once ’twas busy planning. Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once ’twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking, Now ’tis ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once the self I labored, Now for Him alone.
Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Save within the vail.

DaleRatzlaff
DaleRatzlaff

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