John 4:46–5:18 Healing Stories in John
Bible Background: “Signs” is John’s word for ‘miracles’. They are not an end in themselves. They point to the power/presence of God in Jesus. They help people “believe”, which is always a verb in John (not a noun). The word “believe” appears 98x’s in John! This is the goal: so “that through believing, you may have life in (Jesus’) name!” There are only 3 healing stories in John. These are two of them, which are similar to two of the miracle stories in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Digging Deeper: 1. One John scholar tells us that “geography is theology” in John! (Remember last week, we were in Samaria? And in that surprising place the neighbors of this eager woman told us “this is truly the Savior of the world!” Today’s story takes us back to Cana. When were we last in Cana? For the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine! (His first ‘sign’.) Remember, only a few people witnessed that first ‘sign’ and put two and two together!
2. A royal official (could be Jewish, could be Gentile-John doesn’t seem to care), begs Jesus to heal his son. Similar to the wedding/wine story, Jesus seems to defer the request. (John does not want faith in Jesus to depend on “signs and wonders”. Throughout his book, he is inviting people to believe-even if you haven’t seen such amazing things!) The dad is undeterred. Jesus tells him “Go, your son lives!” The man believes! When he gets home, his servants tell him the boy recovered at the same hour that the dad had approached Jesus! He and his whole household believe!
3. One of the challenges of miracle stories in the Bible is this: How come that person’s child was saved and others (maybe even mine!) are not? If God/Jesus can do such amazing things, why do miracles seem so rare these days? These lead to hard questions! (And this is one reason John does not want our faith to depend on the occurrence of a miracle or not!) Might we be missing the main miracles? That God is the giver of life in the first place? That God loves the world enough to send the only Son? That somehow, some way, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection bring us life and forgiveness and freedom we could not enjoy otherwise?
4. John is good at showing us some characters who can be models for belief. Nicodemus: always a believer in God…but maybe slowly becoming a follower of Jesus? The Samaritan woman at the well-whom you might not expect to show such an eager faith! This dad from Capernaum, who came to Jesus believing to some degree, and goes home believing even more! In chapter 9 we’ll meet the blind man, whose faith in Jesus grows along with his newfound sight! The invitation John supplies-is to come follow Jesus! Put your trust in Jesus! Find life in Jesus!
Next Week: Read John 6, a challenging chapter where Jesus claims “I am the bread of life!”