How would we describe a superficial faith in Jesus today? It may be that Jesus is recognised as an important historical figure whose teachings have had a positive impact on our society and even influenced how one lives individually. It could be that one wants to include Christian landmarks in our lives such baptising a child, getting married in church and a church or Christian led funeral. For some it may be that Christian theology is of interest even fascination in a purely intellectual way. Other’s might really like visiting Christian architecture on holiday or love classic Christian art and music. They may pray occasionally usually at a particular point of need. At no point though would a person with superficial faith or interest say that Jesus was at the centre of their lives in a continual way. This is at least in part because they are not convinced about the identity of Jesus.
Above all John’s gospel is written so that people will understand who Jesus is, ‘Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ John 20.30,31 John’s gospel above all is an evangelistic gospel, written first to Jews spread out across the world so that they would know who Jesus is and have life in him. He recorded Jesus’ healing of the son of the royal official as the second sign John 4.54 of who Jesus is (note present tense) so that they could enjoy the same life as the official and his whole household.
He records an interesting contrast between the Samaritans who believed and the Galilean welcome. The Samaritans believed, ‘because of his word’ John 4.41 they had been convinced by his teaching and his prophetic insight and recognised him as the promised Messiah. The Galileans were fascinated by his miracles which they had witnessed in Jerusalem but had not made the connection as to his identity as the promised Messiah, the Son of God. They were sensation seekers.
Jesus was now in Cana the place of his first sign, as to who he was, at a wedding. He was approached by a royal official from Capernaum, some 16 miles away. He was part of Herod Antipas’ court and almost certainly a Gentile. He was a man in great distress because he believed his son was about to die of an unspecified disease. He was desperate that Jesus came immediately to his home to heal his son. John 4.47 Jesus first response was not to the official but directed to Galileans around him, saying that faith for them relied on signs and wonders John 4.48 the implication being, how many more do you need to see? Jesus was not being careless of the official’s distress however he was always conscious and focused on his mission of revelation and salvation.
Up to this point the official was a superficial believer, he believed and wanted to believe that Jesus was in some way a healer because he had heard of him healing many. He thought that for Jesus to heal he would have to be in the presence of his son. Then Jesus spoke, ‘Go, your son will live.’ John 4.50 There was something about the authority of Jesus coming from his divinity that the official grasped. He believed the words of Jesus and went on his way. On his return his belief was confirmed by the news that his son recovered at the exact time Jesus spoke. John 4.53 What an awesome moment. It was then that he completed his move from superficial faith to deep faith and not only him but his whole household, probably including servants as well as family members.
Deep faith occurs when the words of Jesus strike deep into our hearts and our lives change.
What will it take to believe?
Has deep faith in Jesus, recognising him as the Son of God, occurred in our lives?
How do people now hear the words of Jesus?
I See the Lord (Live) – Ron Kenoly