Monday, February 3, 2014

John 4:43-54 Pretend believers, and one real one, Part I

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.


This is such a powerful passage. We've just completed our study of the earlier verses and learned so much; God has revealed more of Himself and of us, in this next passage. 
Let's dig in!
Verse 43 tells us about some logistics. We know that Jesus has just spent two days in Samaria, and the time there was truly successful. It seems that the whole town where He was ministering was turning to Him as the Messiah and the Savior. These people have not focused on His miracle-working powers, but on His word. (Remember that. I'm not going to give you a quiz, but it's important.)
The people there were saying, "We have heard Him for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world." (John 4:42) You know, that is a much better, more heartfelt response than anything He'd gotten from His own people, the Jews. 
Anyway, back to logistics. He's leaving now for Galilee. This is where Jesus grew up, in the town of Nazareth. If we were to look over Simon or Andrew's shoulder at the map, we'd see about ten miles north of Nazareth was Cana (remember He turned the water into wine?) and then about fifteen miles east of Cana was Capernaum. That will come in handy to know, later on.
To make the long story short, Jesus was leaving Samaria for His homeland. Going back to His old "stomping grounds" as we say.

Verse 44 begins with the word "for." That means it is going to tell us the "because" that explains verse 43. So, after the two days He departed for Galilee, "for Jesus Himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown." It seems that John wants to emphasize to us that Jesus is coming "home" to His own people, knowing full well that they will not understand Him, nor honor Him.
This is not really new, right? Remember in John 1:11? John, the beloved disciple, told us that "He came to His own and his own people did not receive Him." It's not new, but it still seems strange to us, because we are humans. As Isaiah 55:9 reveals, "my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
But we have to believe that this is part of Jesus' plan, from the beginning. He intends to keep offering Himself to His own. He knows they will not receive Him. He knows that in the end, it will result in His death. But that is why He came.
Next we see the pretend believers, that I mentioned in the title: in verse 45, John says, "So therefore, when He came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him." 
Whoa.
I thought we just said they wouldn't honor Him? That's right.
The welcome, and the reception, is not what it seems on the outside. If we look at the roots of the words used, it is a kind of receiving that contains no true honor for His person. Look closely: they are just interested in His signs and wonders.
Oy. We've seen this before . . . remember in John 2:23-25?
          Now when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He was doing. But Jesus on His part did not entrust Himself to them because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
If you remember, John told us that this was not a kind of faith that Jesus accepted. These were people who were excited about His miracles. They were jumping up and down and pointing and oohing and ahhing . . . but they didn't believe in His glory as the Son of God, the Messiah.  
Strange that in contrast, the ones they hated, the Samaritans, saw that glory and believed on Him.
You know, even His own brothers did not believe on Him. If we hop over and look at John 7:3-5, we see:
So his brothers said to Him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." For not even his brothers believed in Him.

Sure, they believed that He could do miracles. And they were eager to have Him show these miracles to the world. They may have had ulterior motives, for John notes that they talked like that because they did not believe on Him. 

So He comes to His own, even His own brothers, and they do not receive Him. They don't believe on Him. Some of them may think that they are receiving Him. They may think that they are believers. But they don't understand. They don't have eyes to see.
So they don't honor Him. They make a fuss over Him and His miracles. But they don't "get it."

Hang on -- someone is stepping on the scene that is a true believer. We'll talk about him next time.

1 comment:

Belinda said...

You know, it's so easy to take from Jesus. We take His love, His sacrifice, His miracles, His grace, but how much to we GIVE Him? I'm ashamed to even think about that one.