Continuing with the ‘Seven’ series which David Dunlop began last week, David McMillan introduced us to the second sign from John 4: 43-54. The focus of this sign is:
David began by recalling some well-known TV travel programmes – Whicker’s World; Louis Theroux; Hairy Bikers and others. What makes them memorable is not only the journeys but also the people they meet on the way. The early section of John’s gospel is like a travelogue, matching up places and people while teaching us at the same time. To understand this second sign we must return to the first sign and follow the journey, focusing on four people Jesus encountered on the way.
John’s account of the wedding in Cana (see ‘Seven’: 1. A Wedding without Wine) ends by telling us:
This, we were reminded, was the aim of all seven signs recorded in John’s gospel account:
We see here that the disciples believed in him because of the sign at the wedding in Cana. But who else would come to believe in Jesus?
Leaving Cana, Jesus travels to Capernaum and then to Jerusalem where he talks with a Pharisee called Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). We are not told that Nicodemus became a believer at that time, but we meet him again later in John’s gospel as the man who courageously helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus. Nicodemus (a member of the strict Jewish sect) sees the signs and wants to understand what God is doing through Jesus – he clearly ultimately becomes a believer in Jesus.
Leaving Jerusalem, John tells us that Jesus ‘had to go through Samaria’ (John 4:4). Actually, he didn’t have to do this – there was an alternative route usually taken by Jews wanting to avoid contact with the Samaritans (their traditional enemies). But Jesus ‘had to go’ into enemy territory in order to meet a Samaritan woman at a well. They have an important conversation about true religion and Jesus tells her all about herself – which astounds her and leaves her thinking this man must be the Messiah. She goes and tells the people in her village and they persuade Jesus to stay for two more days, with amazing results:
Now a whole village of Samaritans have come to believe that this man really is the Saviour of the world.
Leaving the Samaritan village, Jesus returns to Cana – where our travelogue began. A man comes from Capernaum to beg Jesus to come with him because his son is seriously ill. This man is a royal official – meaning he works for Herod Antipas (the ruler who would later behead John the Baptist). Jesus does not go with the man; he simply says:
Amazingly, the man trusts Jesus, and when he gets home and sees his son recovered, John tells us:
Challenges from this second sign:
JESUS – THE MAN FOR OTHERS
Jesus is active, inspiring belief even where we least expect it (Pharisees, Samaritans, royal officials and our equivalents). Followers of the Saviour of the world need to have a generous world vision and also learn to welcome and serve the people of the world within our own city.
JESUS – THE MAN FOR YOU TOO
The royal official simply took Jesus at his word and went home. Would you have done that? This Jesus who is for others is also for us. Whatever your struggle, whatever your situation, will you take him at his word?
JESUS – THE MAN FOR OTHERS AND THE MAN FOR YOU TOO