After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.
I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at
Jesus Heals an Official’s Son
After the two days he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast. So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
I have not included the earlier portion of John 4, since it does not directly relate to this second miracle, but the context of the chapter is relevant in relation the Jesus’ remarks to the official. He had just come out of Samaria, where no miracles were performed. No mighty works. No eye popping actions that would excite the surrounding people. None of that. He had revealed Himself to a poor adulterous Samaritan woman, (A Samaritan woman!) and the town eventually came to trust Him as the Savior of the World. This is truly an amazing story, and I will not spend our time rehashing my thoughts. If interested, please see Simple Thoughts – Savior of the World
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
Jesus spoke to the official in response to his request, but in verse 47, Jesus said to him (and the surrounding crowd – the “you” in verse 47 is plural!) that the only way to get faith out of these people appears to be miracles.
What a contrast with the dirty Samaritans Jesus had just departed from!
Jesus had performed one miracle in Cana, and that was not a highly publicized one, since it was only known to a select few. Yet the requests began. We have a miracle worker in our midst! What do I need? What can I get?
When did the Lord perform this miracle?
Where did the Lord perform this miracle?
See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.
Why did the Lord perform this miracle?
This is a hard question for me since the Lord may granted this miracle for the man, but He also understood His audience, that they were looking for eye candy. This, as we shall see throughout the miracles is a recurring theme.
Those who had the greatest revelation of God in the history of mankind, were the ones who needed the signs and miracle to initiate faith. Paul actually summarizes this condition in 1 Corinthians 1:22
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, – 1 Corinthians 1:22
The purpose of signs and miracles were discussed in the introduction to this series, and it may be profitable to review occasionally the reasons the miracles were given.
One of the reasons Jesus performed miracles was to extract faith in His words from those who were present. It seems to me He provided miracles throughout His ministry to either fulfill prophecy, directing attention to the person of prophecy hopefully, or to give supporting authority to His words.
The miracles were not an end to themselves. For this particular miracle, no one in the audience “saw” anything. His words were to be believed (which the official claimed) or they were to be ignored. The servants back home saw the fever break, but had no knowledge of the interaction between the official and the Lord.
This statement from the Lord Go; your son will live was all that Jesus provided the official. What did the man do? Did he demand the Master come down, beg for a visual proof, seek some type of validation? It seems the man accepted the words of Jesus.
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way
The official turned on his heels, and headed home, believing the words of Jesus. He left the crowd, all alone with his faith in the words of Jesus, walking back to his home. The next day, the servants and the official met and the miracle became evident to all. In between his departure from Jesus, and meeting his servants, this official only had the words of Jesus to cling to.
What was the message for the original audience?
The message for the original audience?
Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.
In Texas, where we have lived for the last couple decades, they have a way of defining the size of a group. If I am speaking to one person, I refer to “you”. If I am speaking to more than one person, I would refer to “y’all”. But if I am wanting to include everyone that is listening to my thoughts, I would refer to “all y’all”.
The term “you” in the above passage is the plural, and in the Texas vernacular, would be something like
Unless y’all see signs and wonders y’all will not believe.
Remember that this is spoken amongst the inhabitants of Capernaum, a city that will not fare well in the gospels. Later on in the gospels, Capernaum comes under the Lord’s judgement, even being compared against Sodom and Gomorrah!
And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” – Mat 11:23-24
This is incredible!
The message to the original audience in Capernaum was one of judgement, of warning. The Messiah had been revealed to the Samaritans though a message only, and immediately after, the Master faced a request for a miracle. Did the Capernaum inhabitants know of the harvest in Samaria? Highly unlikely in my thinking, but that is irrelevant to the response of the Capernaumites. (Is that a word?)
Jesus, in His human understanding, was seeing a pattern emerge (I speak as a fool here!) The Samaritans and Capernaum inhabitants were both in the promised land, and had connections with Moses and the covenant. Both referred to at least portions of the Old Testament for their religious foundation. (The Samaritans seemed to depend only on the first five books of the Law.)
The religious leadership of Israel depended on the whole of the Old Testament, and generally looked down on those Samaritans. The general attitude of the religious leadership in Israel was that the Samaritans were an adulterated bunch of impure, mixed race inhabitants, defiling the land. Only the pure Jew was acceptable to the God of Israel. Only the pure Jew!
How upside down is that?
What is the message for us today?
Are you of a pure faith? Are you doctrinally pure, without error, and exercise a ministry of “debate” on all who do not agree with you. Do you demand proofs before you believe? Do you seek to “help” those who cannot see the truth, claiming you understand the revelation of God.
In other words, do you live in pride? Would you identify with the dirty Samaritans or the pure Jew?
Simple faith is dependent on His words. As mentioned above, as this man walked home, he may have experienced doubt and fears, recalled whispers or mockings as he left the crowd. It was surely a long walk home with his thoughts, and the words of Jesus were all he could depend on. Definitely a good place to be!
Only Jesus’ words!
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.