What will it take to believe?
It is easy to follow a celebrity or a famous person who seems to have it all together. It is easy to listen to a speaker when they present a great argument. But when do we truly believe?
As it often happens in our lives, we find out the most at a time of crisis.
As I have been studying through Jesus’ life, he has just completed one of the most successful mission trips of his ministry. Jesus has gone to a hated village of foreigners and spoken to an outcast of the town. After two days, both the outcast woman and most of the town are believers in him.
Jesus now heads north to Galilee and is welcomed gladly. He is the great celebrity who has come home! His popularity from Judea has only increased as he returns to Galilee.
But despite the crowds and the large welcome, Jesus knows that his popularity is based on excitement and not true belief in him. This is the same shallow belief that he encountered in Judea (John 2:23-25).
Jesus returns to the town of Cana. Many would certainly have remembered his miracle at the wedding the previous year, where he turned the water to wine. And there, in the evening, a royal official comes up the road from Capernaum, and starts begging.
This man, the royal official, has a young son who is dying. None of the man’s wealth or power can help him now, and so he comes to this rabbi to beg for his son’s life.
Jesus, the one who loves the world and is the example of compassion, responds with a rebuke: “Unless you [all] see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
Why does Jesus make such an insensitive remark? There are three important points to remember here:
- First, Jesus does help the father. The father has very little faith, but his weak faith is in Jesus. Jesus meets the man in his weak state and pulls him up to something higher.
- Second, Jesus is about to show everyone that he is not limited by distance. This is completely unknown to the Jews (and the disciples), but Jesus does not need to be physically present to heal the boy.
- Finally, and most importantly, Jesus is showing that the spirit world is most important. This is the same lesson to Nicodemus and to the Samaritan woman. He can easily heal the physical sufferings of the boy, but the greater concern is their unbelief.
The father pleads respectfully (“sir”), and Jesus tells him to go and that his son will live. The man heads back (either that night or the next morning). His servants meet him on the way reporting that the son is recovering. They compare times to find out that the son recovered at the exact time that Jesus said he would get better.
The religious, devout people around him still refuse to believe in Jesus. Yet this father has come face to face with the Savior of the World. He believed in his works enough to seek him out and ask for help. He believed in his words enough to trust him when Jesus told him to “Go; your son will live”. But the man returned home believing in Jesus himself. He believed in his person .
1 Corinthians 1:22-24
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
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