“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.’ ” John 4:48
As we come to the end of John chapter four, Jesus has returned to the village of Cana in Galilee where he had turned the water into wine.
Following the wedding feast, where this miracle occurred, Jesus, together with his disciples, had journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and while there he had taught and performed many signs or miracles. As a result of these miracles a great number of the people in Jerusalem had believed. Nicodemus references these signs when he meets with Jesus in secret.
Many Galileans had also been in Jerusalem for the Passover and had witnessed the signs Jesus had done and as they return to their homes they come telling about what they saw in Jerusalem. John’s record seems to suggest that there’s now an expectation that that Jesus will continue to perform signs and wonders and one could even surmise that Jesus has had some people come to him asking him to perform a sign for them so that they too could believe. A reliable report from trustworthy witnesses wasn’t enough.
At this time a nobleman, hearing that Jesus has returned to Galilee, journeys from Capernaum to Cana, a distance of approximately fifteen mile, and implores Jesus to come to Capernaum and heal his son, who is at the point of death.
At this point Jesus tests the man’s faith by saying to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
It may seem cruel to handle a worried father in this way but Jesus never does anything without a reason. The requested miracle will only come in answer to belief and it appears that this father’s request is made partially because of his need and partially from a desire to test or prove Jesus.
Jesus characterization of the father’s request, which is in a tense that indicates repetitive action, could be translated, “Unless you people keep seeing signs and wonders, you won’t believe.”
The man at this point abandons his attempt to prove Jesus and in desperation cries out, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
Jesus then answers him and tells him to return home, his son will live. The man accepts this assurance and begins the return trip to Capernaum. While on the way home he’s met by servants who tell him that his son is well and when he asks them to tell them what happened he discovers that he was healed at the time when Jesus told him to return home.
Jesus wants us to come to him with our requests not as a test but because we’re confident that he can and will meet our need. We have ample evidence from scripture and experience to prove to us that Jesus knows what’s best and he’s able to do anything we need. We don’t need more proof. What we need is less doubt and more belief.
O God help my unbelief!