John 4:48 – Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
Cana of Galilee was the place where Jesus was famous for that party trick. You remember the one… you fill six waterpots to the brim with water, draw out the liquid, and take it immediately to serve to the governor of the feast (also known as the head waiter; master of ceremonies; director; or man in charge). He will think it is the best wine served that entire night (see John 2:1-11).
A nobleman heard that Jesus was back in Cana, and sought out this Jesus of Galilee. He approached Him and implored the Lord to leave what He was presently doing, and follow immediately to the man’s home in Capernaum to heal his dying boy.
That is when Jesus declared the words that opened this writing. The scriptures don’t say, but I imagine that Jesus looked the man in the eyes, searching for sincere faith. Quietly, but firmly, he chided, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
There was a great lesson being taught there. Signs and wonders are a natural product of faith and discipleship. The believer should not be surprised when they come. However, they alone are not intended to prove divine truth or be the basis to build a testimony. Those that were looking for a miraculous manifestation in order to prove their faith would not receive it, for the witness should properly come after the trial of their faith.
Certainly, there are times when those who are faithless are recipients of miracles. Those miracles are usually called upon by someone who is faithful. At a different time, the Savior declared, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matthew 16:4).
I believe that Jesus was challenging this father in a way, to prove that he had faith already. So many people had already often come to Jesus because they heard He had magic powers. Was this man part of that same crowd?
The nobleman’s reply indicated that he did truly believe. Without hesitation, knowing Jesus could do what was being asked, he requested “Sir, come down ere my child die.”
Jesus responded in a way that might further test the man’s faith. He modified the request, and instead of going with the man to his home, he instructed, “Go thy way; thy son liveth.”
Perhaps it goes further with the test. The Lord did not go with the man as requested. Instead of the nobleman getting to see Jesus heal his boy, the man would now have to leave the Healer and return home. It would be several hours before he would find out how effective the miracle had been, and in the meantime the Lord would move on elsewhere.
I put myself in the sandals of the nobleman for a moment: I’ve sought out the Lord. I’ve found Him. I’ve asked for a favor. The Lord says it is done, but not in the way I planned it to play out. Would I trust that it was done, or would I try again to ask him to come and be personally present to make sure it is accomplished? I might not find Jesus again if I have to seek him out. There is no cell phone number to call to locate Him. No Facebook or Twitter feed to follow His location. The lost time could mean the death of my boy. I imagine that this could be a very difficult decision to make in an instant.
The scriptures tell us that the nobleman did not hesitate. “The man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” Along the way he was met by his servants, looking for him. They told him that his Son was healed. He asked what time the healing had occurred. They replied. He thought about it, and recognized that it was the same time that Jesus had spoken these words (see John 4:46-54).
The nobleman’s faith was rewarded. He believed first, and then received a sign and wonder in return.