So once again He came to Cana in Galilee, where He had turned the water into wine. And there was a royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Him to come down and heal his son, who was about to die.
Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.” John 4:46-48
Man. This seems a little harsh for Jesus to say. I mean, here’s this guy whose son is dying, and he asks Jesus to fix that. It seems like what anyone would want if their child was on death’s door.
So why does Jesus berate the man, and the Jews around him?
It has to be that Jesus saw something in this man’s heart that was out of order. It’s really interesting to me that in other places in the Bible, when someone comes to Jesus for a healing, he says, “Your faith has healed you.” (Mark 5:34, Matt 9:22, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:48, Mark 5:2) Yet in this case, Jesus evidently sees no faith.
In fact, he sees that he must perform the miracle for the faith to happen, instead of the faith happening, so he can perform the miracle.
That’s pretty convicting, isn’t it? It makes us wonder, do we come to Jesus with the attitude that we’ll believe in him if he does signs and wonders, or do we come to him with a deep conviction of his divinity?
It makes me question myself. Because I do see that I have less faith when things are not going my way. It’s easy for me to have faith when our church is growing, and lots of people are being baptized. But when we’re losing numbers, or struggling financially, I’m tempted to think that God’s not going to bless us, and we’re going to be defeated. When my life is going well, it’s easy to feel great and write a lot of encouraging blogs. But what about when I don’t feel good, or my depression kicks in, or I have an ongoing difficulty with someone? I admit that I feel weak.
I surely don’t want to just be a fair weather believer. I want to have just as much faith in the storm.
One reason I think this is hard for me is because I make following Jesus all about me. I come to him seeking that he will meet my needs. And I have so many of them!
But what about his needs? He needs to be believed in. He needs devotion and reverence, because he is the son of God, the word made flesh, the light of the world, the truth, the way. He needs unquestioning obedience. This is his due.
If I’m seeking out Jesus as a way to get my needs met, I will only feel good when these needs are met. If I’m seeking out Jesus because I want to worship the amazing son of God, I will always feel great, because he is the son of God no matter what’s going on.
That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to come to Jesus to get needs met. He’s the only one who can truly meet our needs.
But our primary reason to come to Jesus has to be because of who he is, not what he can do for us. Otherwise we really will see him as a kind of a spiritual Santa Claus, instead of the One who was with God from the beginning, made all things, and now sits at the right hand of God.
So the next time we pray, let’s petition the Lord. (Phil 4:6, Matt. 6:11) He wants us to ask. He wants to take care of us. (Matt. 7:7) But let’s also ask, “What do you need today, God? How can I show my devotion to you? Jesus, how do you need me to be you for the world?”
Let’s remember the examples of people who saw Jesus for who he was, like Peter (Matt. 16:16, John 6:68), Nathanael (John 1:49), the woman at the well (John 4:29), and the sinful woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears (Luke 7:38).
These people had the clarity of sight that’s called faith, and this prompted them to words and action.
May we be like them, instead of waiting for Jesus to act. May we be givers more than we are takers, believers more than we are receivers.
(Thanks to the Deep Spirituality devotionals for ideas that contributed to my thoughts in this blog.)