Mark 1:15; Luke 4:15; John 4:43-54
“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced, “The kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!.” – Mark 1:15 NLT
As in the case of Jesus’ late night encounter with Nicodemus, the Pharisee, the word, “believe” plays a prominent role in today’s passages. Jesus has made His way to the region of Galilee. Luke tells us, “He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone” (Luke 4:15 NLT). Mark tells us He was picking up John’s message that the kingdom of God was near, calling people to repentance and telling them to BELIEVE the Good news. Jesus was already beginning to gain a reputation. Word of His arrival in Jerusalem had begun to spread. His cleansing of the Temple and His confrontation with the religious leadership had everyone talking. Most certainly, news about His miracle in Cana when He turned ordinary water into wine had spread like wild fire. No doubt, news about what had just happened in the Samaritan village had gotten out and was met with mixed reviews. People weren’t really sure what to make of Jesus at this point. They were intrigued and attracted. Jesus was front-page news. He was the talk of the town.
So when He made His way back to Cana where He had turned the water into wine, he was met by a government official from the nearby town of Capernaum, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. When this man had heard that Jesus was in the vicinity, he had walked nearly 20 miles to meet him. His motivation? A sick child. More than likely, was employed by the government of Herod. He would not have been a popular individual with most Jews. Herod was closely linked to the Romans and was despised by the Jews as a pawn under their control. So more than likely, this man was not exactly popular among the people of Galilee. Yet, he had a need and was attracted to Jesus. He begged Jesus to come to Capernaum and heal his son. Interestingly, there is no indication that Jesus had healed anyone up to this point. He had performed the miracle in Cana, but that was it. Something prompted this man, perhaps his desperation over his son’s illness, but he somehow knew that Jesus could help him.
Jesus responds to the man with an interesting question. “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” (John 4:48 NLT). I truly believe this was a rhetorical question on the part of Jesus. He knew the answer and it was, “No!” The miracles and signs performed by Jesus were going to be required to dispel the disbelieve of the people. This generation, much like their forefathers, had become stubborn and unbelieving. Their faith had grown faint and their expectations of God’s activity in their lives, dulled by time and God’s silence. But this man pleaded with Jesus, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies” (John 4:49 NLT). He was desperate. He was needy. He was hurting. He had no other alternatives and had obviously exhausted all other options. When Jesus told him to go home and that his son would live, we’re told that the “man believed what Jesus said and started home” (John 4:50 NLT). All he needed was a word from Jesus and he was on his way. He believed. He took Jesus at His word. And before he could even get home, he was met on the way by his own servants who excitedly shared the news that his son’s fever had suddenly broken. A quick check of the facts revealed that his son’s sudden improvement in health came at just the time Jesus had said, “Your son will live.” When he got home and told his family and servants all that happened and explained why his son was better, John tells us “his entire household believed in Jesus” (John 4:53 NLT).
The amazing thing is that there would be those who saw Jesus perform miracle after miracle, heal person after person, even raise the dead, and still not believe in Him. This man’s belief was linked to need. He realized his desperate need for Jesus. Those who received healing from the hand of Jesus usually had no trouble believing in Jesus. They had been personally and intimately impacted by Him. They had met Him at a point of need and He had miraculously met their need, not based on their worth or merit, but purely based on the grace and mercy of Jesus. The same is true for us today. Our belief begins with the recognition of our need. We need Jesus. We are in a desperate place without Him. Our need must drive us to Him. We must give up all other options and acknowledge that only He can solve the problem we face. The woman at the well had a need. She was morally contaminated and spiritually thirsty. Jesus met her need and she believed. Thousands upon thousands of others would refuse to admit their need for Jesus and never believe in Him. Oh, they might be attracted to His miracles and intrigued by His words. But because of pride, self-righteousness, or fear of man, they would never come to the point of need that would drive them to Jesus exclaiming, “Lord, please!” What’s your greatest need today? Are you willing to bring it to Jesus and believe?
Jesus, there are so many things that keep us from You. Pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, fear of man, and our own stubborn refusal to admit our need. We hate weakness, especially in ourselves. We refuse to confess our need for You. We want to think we can do it all ourselves. But need precedes belief. I will only believe in You as much as I recognize my need for You. Keep me needy. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men