Friday 29th Sep 2023Lighthouse

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Scripture: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

John 20:30-31 NRSV



When we read the gospel have we asked the question, why is Jesus performing miracles and what does this tell us about the nature of God? Furthermore, once we have this knowledge are we acting upon it?  The gospel is indeed the greatest news we will ever hear, have we become over-familiar and our edge dulled? Does our belief show in our actions?


The signs are pointing towards who God is and bringing us to life. Without faith that Jesus is the messiah the son of God, we miss out on life in His name. John believes the signs (miracles) are more than just healings and miraculous occurring they are the key to believing in Christ who is the pathway to life. John writes his book as he wants us to believe in Christ as he knows that is the key to life. The requisite to our belonging to Christ is that we first believe in him, second that we as believers are baptised into the body of Christ, and we join the church, this is how we find life. Today we look closer at the signs that point us in the right direction, are we obedient to those signs?


We focus again this morning on the gospel of John, particularly in a story of when Jesus healed the son of a royal official from a distance. John records this in chapter 4 using the term “sign.


Signs point towards something and we can discover how we can concentrate our lives to manifest Christ through the way we live. One thing we are working towards is being effective signposts that point toward Christ. Does our life demonstrate what we beloved? 

Does the way we treat others show how the love of God is manifested within us?


Recording Jesus, John writes everyone will know you belong to me by the way you love each other (Jn 13.35) John writes in his letter later in life, how can you say you love God yet hate your fellow human? (1 Jn 4:20)

John’s purpose in writing his book gives us an insight into the purpose of Christ's mission which is to bring us to life. He writes the thief comes to steal kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life in full. (10:10)


  1. Has our familiarity with the stories of Christ dulled our faith? (a prophet is without honour at home). Can we take a fresh look at Christ in the gospels?
  2. Knowing who Christ is, as God incarnate means he has the authority and our job is in believing.  
  3. A step further to believing is action. Taking Christ at his word and acting accordingly. Knowing Christ means knowing he has authority. (at your word I will believe and I will act upon it.


The definition of sign used here is “something given especially to confirm, corroborate or authenticate.” it also “authenticates the Lord and His eternal purpose” and a sign is noted as “an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature;“

A sign is a public deed performed by Jesus that reveals who he is but requires faith to perceive its truthfulness. As such, then, a sign is an act that, upon pondering and imagining, continues to reveal the true identity of Jesus, but only for those with faith. 



Jesus Travels to Galilee (4:43-46a)

"43  After the two days he left for Galilee. 44  (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) 45  When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there. 46  Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine." (4:43-46a)

From Sychar Jesus moves into the southern districts of Galilee and arrives at Cana.

In John's Gospel, Jesus has seen growing opposition in Judea (4:1-3), prompting him to travel to his home area of Galilee. But John is warning the reader not to expect sudden acceptance even in Galilee. It won't be like the acceptance he had experienced in Sychar. As we'll see in verse 48, the Galilean's belief in him was largely based on his miraculous signs, not in recognising who he was. Just because Jesus is a Galilean doesn't mean they'll see Jesus for who he is, any more than the Judeans had. Nevertheless, Jesus' initial welcome in Galilee was quite positive, since the Galileans knew of the miracles Jesus had performed in Jerusalem at Passover.


The Royal Official's Son (4:46b-47)

John has set the scene. Now he introduces the desperate need that Jesus meets in Cana. A man's son is burning up with a fever and is nearly dead.

"And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47  When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death." (4:46b-47)

Jesus has been in Cana for several days -- long enough for word to reach Capernaum that Jesus was back in Galilee. Immediately upon hearing that Jesus is in Cana, an important man with a dying son rushes up the road from Capernaum to Cana, a distance of about 20 miles, and a rise from the Sea of Galilee of about 1,250 feet (382 meters), a good two days' journey on foot -- probably less on horseback, since this man was a wealthy official. He would probably have gone southwest from Capernaum along the lake, then at Tiberius up the road into the mountains to Cana.

This resident of Capernaum is an official in service of Herod Antipas (reigned 4 BC to 39 AD), tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and considered a king or "royal" by the populace.

Herod Antipas was a builder, and during his long reign built his capital Tiberius, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.  


The Faith of the Royal Official (4:47-50)

The royal official had probably heard Jesus when he had come to Capernaum previously (2:12). He has seen him do miracles of healing there (Luke 4:23; Matthew 11:23). He is desperate! He knows Jesus can heal his son, but he must find the Master. His faith is based on the miracles he has seen, but it is strong enough to sustain him on a two-day mountainous journey.

So now he comes to Jesus and implores him to help.

"He ... begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death." (4:47b)

The verb is in the imperfect tense, which means that he asked and kept on asking. He didn't stop or take "No" for an answer.

Jesus' first response is a rebuke not just of the official's faith, but of all the Galileans, who were more interested in signs and wonders rather than in who Jesus was.

"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,' Jesus told him, 'you will never believe.'" (4:48)

But the man refuses to be denied. He is persistent.

"49 The royal official said, 'Sir, come down before my child dies.'
50  Jesus replied, 'You may go. Your son will live.' The man took Jesus at his word and departed." (4:49-50)

Jesus responds with a command and a statement: "Go, your son lives," which is more accurate than most translations that say "will live." The present imperative emphasizes a word of power, a healing word, and underscores the continuing power of life that Jesus brings.

The man's response shows his faith. Instead of pestering Jesus to come with him, he believes that Jesus has already healed his son. "He took Jesus at his word" (NIV) is an English idiom for the more literal, "He believed the word that Jesus spoke to him" (NRSV, ESV).

So the official heads down the mountain to return to Capernaum, and while on his way home, meets some of his servants who bring a joyous message.

"51  While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52  When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, 'The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.' 53  Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, 'Your son will live.' So he and all his household believed." (4:51-53)

When this father gets over his initial shock that his son is healed, he finds out that the time of the boy's healing -- about 1 pm -- was just the time that Jesus had spoken the word of healing.

As a result, the man and all his extended household - immediate family, extended family, and servants -- become believers. His faith had begun with seeing miracles, but it has gone deeper. He believes Jesus' word and later sees the results.

I don't doubt that Jesus (and John) got the full story when they arrived in Capernaum later on this trip to Galilee, and John recalled it decades later to include in his Gospel.

John saw special significance in this healing, as a sign pointing to who Jesus is -- the man who can heal at a distance by only a word. The first sign John pointed out was the changing of the water into wine (2:11) -- also in Cana.

"This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee." (4:54)

Lessons for us today.


What are we supposed to learn from this account? I think there are several lessons:

  1. Not allow our familiarity with Christ to dull our faith. Let us take a fresh look at the gospels this lent, seeing Jesus for the first time. -- "a prophet has no honour in his own country" (4:44).
  2. A faith that is based only on miracles alone is insufficient (4:45, 48). Faith that is praise-worthy is based on who Jesus is: faith in his word and authority.
  3. We must sometimes take Jesus at his word and act before seeing the result. Hearing the words of Christ the man believed and acted on it.




God, in his great compassion, has made Himself known to humanity, but he has done so on His terms. He has done so through Jesus.

Even while many people demand signs, God has given the ultimate sign in Jesus who has made God known to us. (Jn 17:26)

This is through his birth, life, death, and resurrection, Jesus reveals the character and nature of God. These signs that John wrote about show us that we can have a relationship with God. Furthermore, it is only through knowing Christ we come into eternal life.


“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

John 17:3 NRSV


Today, we can read and believe these stories we discover that God can do what we think is impossible. That belief leads us to places where we know God is at work in us.


What circumstances are we facing that Christ can make a big difference in our lives? 

Will we take Christ at his word and take action? 


A sign is a public deed performed by Jesus that reveals who he is but requires faith to perceive its truthfulness. As such, then, a sign is an act that, upon pondering and imagining, continues to reveal the true identity of Jesus, but only for those with faith. 

Christ wants to reveal himself in all his glory. As he does we believe in him, and as we believe in him we have life. The story of this man shows great faith in both who Jesus is, and the authority he has and he acted on it.


Are you ready for Christ to return? Signs of the end times are upon us, we only need to look around us in the world today. Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, I wonder do you know him? Do you believe in him? Will you publically declare that faith in him today?

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