Good morning! I am sorry my published devotions are sporadic of late. Due to the season and the responsibilities involved . Our reading or this Wednesday, December 20, 2017 is John 4. 42-54.
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.”
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 Feast, 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 miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
50 Jesus replied, “You may go. 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, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.”
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 all his household believed.
54 This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.
The woman mentioned in our reading is the Samaritan woman. The story of Jesus’ encounter with her is recorded in the verses which preceded those of today. In those passages Jesus reveals that no one, despite race, gender, circumstance or failed experience are beyond the reach of God’s love. The second lesson is the ability of Jesus to comprehend every person’s need and insight into their circumstance. She was overwhelmed by the insight into her life and troubles and the offer of abundance of internal joy and peace he offered her that she exuberated with joy and broke the routine of her life to face the community and testify to Jesus.
They in turn went to hear him and returned themselves to profess belief in Jesus on the basis of what they had experienced and not solely on the testimony of this woman of questionable repute. The lesson learned here is that we cannot enter into vital faith on simply the witness of others to Jesus – we must witness his personality and power through our own experience of him. We are always fearful that our lives and knowledge are so broken and incomplete that no would listen to our witness, yet it is not on the basis of our witness that other’s lives meet Christ. We only point the way and if we are honest about ourselves and our need for Christ our very flaws only lend substance to pointing the way to Jesus. So do not be afraid to witness to what you do know and have experienced.
We also need to recognize that knowledge is important but insufficient for providing the life transforming faith we long for. We must approach Jesus personally and experience the potentials we have heard of him. So it was with this father who held a position of religious and political authority. He had heard of Jesus and was desperately facing the death of his child. It is unfortunate that many experiences of the truth of Christ come at times of personal desperation, but then that may be when we throw aside our intellectual prejudices and embrace an open mind. Of course from a distance Jesus performed what John attests was Jesus’ second miracle in the region of Galilee – the boy is healed.
Of greater importance is what we learn from Jesus’ statement when the father approached him with his need. Jesus said: “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” That is the question we should focus on. It is true that Jesus perform miracles of healings and resurrections. They were necessary to convince the people of his identity. We now have his reputation established by historical fact, both attested to by the writings of the gospels and by secular historians of the time.
While God still works miracles we should not base our faith on God’s performing them beyond what we already can perceive. We should be convinced by what can be known of Jesus and by the greatest miracles of the life transforming power evidenced in the lives of people who embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord. If we come to him open to learn and expecting, doubtful and willing to explore the potentials of his promises, we will have a personal experience as the Samaritan woman at the well, the community in her village and the educated and religious father whose son was healed. We must experience Jesus for ourselves and you cannot do that from a distance.
Blessings! Brian Homan, pastor
Liverpool First UM Church