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A Journey through the book of Genesiswith Willow Creek Community Church

Read John

DAY 5 // TAKING JESUS AT HIS WORD

Willow Creek Community Church

 

“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. 

~ JOHN 4:48–50 

 

LISTEN


COMMENTARY

John 4:43-52 narrates the story of Jesus’ second great “sign” in the book of John. Like His first sign, Jesus performs this miracle in the town of Cana in Galilee. Also like His first sign, Jesus teaches us a valuable lesson through the miracle. 

In this story, Jesus is welcomed by a crowd of Galileans who are eager to see Him perform more miracles. These Galileans had seen His power on display in Jerusalem at the Passover festival (John 2:23, 4:45). We might presume that some of them had even come to believe as a result of His past work (John 2:23-25). But Jesus isn’t certain their belief is directed toward Him so much as it is toward the visible expressions of His power. As Jesus says in John 4:48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders . . . you will never believe”. 

For this misguided crowd, Jesus performs a counterintuitive kind of sign. To a man who begs Jesus to come to his house and heal his sick son, Jesus says, “Go . . . your son will live” (John 4:50). This sign is counterintuitive because it can’t be seen immediately. Signs by their very nature are supposed to be visible, pointing to something beyond themselves. But this sign is invisible. It can only be seen if the man and those in the crowd take Jesus at His word and go to see it. In other words, it challenges them to believe without seeing the miracle, to believe in Jesus because He is trustworthy. 

This is relevant for us today because some people are still waiting for a miracle to believe. What Jesus conveys here is that the signs He performs are not always immediately visible to us. The challenge for us is to have a greater kind of faith and to take Him at His word. If we do, we might discover that He is working miracles behind the scenes in ways we didn’t see at first. 


SCRIPTURE

JOHN 4:39–5:15 

MANY SAMARITANS BELIEVE 

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” 

JESUS HEALS AN OFFICIAL’S SON 

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 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. 

46 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. 47 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. 

48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 

50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 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.” 

53 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. 

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee. 

5 THE HEALING AT THE POOL 

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. 

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. 


REFLECTION

1. Like the unseen miracle in John 4:50, God is always at work in our lives. How have you seen God at work in your life, maybe even behind the scenes? What made it possible for you to “see” and acknowledge the things He is doing for you? 

2. In John 5:10, it’s almost shocking to read the reaction of the Pharisees as they disregarded the miraculous healing of this man and instead focused on petty rules! However, if we’re honest with ourselves, we often overlook the people around us in an effort to please ourselves or follow certain patterns or rules in life. What are some ways that you get caught up in structures, rules, or policies and forget the people involved? How can you be more present with the people around you at work, running errands, or at church?