Signs and Wonders: What do YOU need?

   John 4:43-54   

            Before we really get into the text we are going to look at today, I really want us to look at the few verses preceding verse 43.  Let’s just take a quick look at verses 39-42. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

            The reason I want us to look at these few verses is that I want us to contrast the difference in the faith of the Samaritans and the faith of the Galileans. Look at John 4:45, “So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him, having seen all that He had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.”

            Why were the Galileans welcoming Him? It was because they had seen many signs and wonders in Jerusalem during the Passover feast. It tells us in John 2:23, “that many believed in His name when they saw the signs that he was doing.” Not only that, if you’ll remember Cana in Galilee, which is where Jesus is here, is also where Jesus performed His first miracle, turning water into wine.  Even though most people didn’t know what had happened, it tells us that the servants who drew the water knew. (John 2:9) I feel pretty certain that some of them had to tell others what they had seen. I know myself; I would have had to tell someone if I witnessed someone turning water into wine.

            What is the difference between the Galileans belief, and the belief of the Samaritans? The Samaritans didn’t need a lot of signs and wonders to believe. They believed because of the testimony of the woman at the well. Even more than that though, they believed because of what they themselves heard and experienced.

            Look at this official from Capernaum who came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his son. He obviously had heard of Jesus, and he had to of had some sort of faith to come to see Jesus in order to ask for healing. No doubt he had heard something about the signs and wonders that Jesus was doing. What did Jesus say? “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Jesus was not just talking to this official; He was speaking to all of the Galileans as a whole. He was saying that “you won’t believe in me unless I show you signs and wonders.”

            You know there are still many people just like this today. There are many people in the world who won’t believe who Jesus is unless they see signs and wonders. Even people who profess to be Christians seem to think that most of Jesus’ teachings are no longer really relevant to their lives. They don’t truly believe that Jesus has the ability to change them, to make any real difference. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who has truly been born again knows this. We have believed because of His word. We have heard it for ourselves, and experienced it. Like the Samaritans we know that “this is indeed the Savior of the world.” Now this isn’t to say that we don’t or can’t see signs and wonders. Sometimes God does use these things to get our attention. Maybe a miraculous healing, or there are times where things happen that can only be explained by divine intervention. I believe that God is still in the miracle business. We can’t however always depend on this. 

            I remember before I was a Christian. I was one of those people who loved to debate with Christians and tell them how ignorant I thought they were. I would ask them how they could believe in something that, at the time, I didn’t perceive that there was any proof for.  I would always say, “When I see some sort of thunder and lightening or some great sign or miracle from heaven, then I’ll believe.” I wasn’t an atheist, but I was definitely a staunch agnostic. I didn’t know what I believed, but I knew it wasn’t in this Jesus.

            One day though something happened. A series of events happened that really got my attention. There was no miraculous healing, or no real sign from heaven. But something happened that changed how I felt. I went to the Bible and started reading through the Gospels. I started going to church, and it was the words of Jesus that really got my attention. I started to believe. Not because I saw any great miracles, though there were signs, but because of what I saw and heard for myself. Most of us that have truly had a conversion experience know this. You didn’t believe in Jesus just because of any big miracle, or sign or wonder. More times that not, it is because you hear or read His word, and you just know. That is what happened with the Samaritans.

            Even those of us who do believe though sometimes lose site of this. We think we need to constantly see signs or miracles in order for our faith to remain strong. If we aren’t seeing something miraculous or if we fall on hard times we start to forget who Jesus is. If we don’t “feel” Jesus being active in our lives, we sometimes start to think He is no longer relevant. Again, nothing is further from the truth.

            Perhaps Jesus is working in your life, and you just don’t realize it. Perhaps you have in your mind how you think Jesus ought to be working, but maybe He has something else in mind. Look again at the official, whose son was sick. He thought that Jesus needed to come back with him in order for his son to be healed. But Jesus had something else in mind. Jesus told Him to, “Go, your son will live.” Why do you think Jesus did this? Well, we can’t really be sure but I have some ideas. I believe that Jesus was strengthening this mans faith, and as you see a little further down the man’s entire household became believers as well. Jesus was showing this man that even though He wasn’t there physically, He could still heal him. The man believed what Jesus told him, and on faith went on his way. There is something that I believe we can learn from this. You see distance and time is no obstacle for Jesus. Even though He is no longer “physically” on earth. Even though as a man, he hasn’t lived here for over 2,000 years that is no obstacle for Jesus. Jesus is perfectly capable of taking care of us and our problems from wherever He is. Like I said, it may not be how and when we expect it. But He knows what is right, and what is best. Because of what happened here, Jesus’ perfect knowledge and also because this man had faith in what Jesus told Him, not only did this man believe in Jesus, but also His entire household. I don’t know what problems you may be experiencing, but believe in Jesus, and have faith in Him. He is perfectly capable of taking care of them.

            The next thing I want us to look at in our text is the difference between how Jesus ministered, and how many churches and even we ourselves witness and minister to others. When this man approached Jesus, what happened? He wasn’t greeted with a warm and fuzzy greeting. He was given a rebuke. Jesus told Him basically that His faith was weak. He said that, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you won’t believe.” That is pretty typical of how Jesus worked. That is pretty typical of how God works. Jesus always pointed out to people their sinfulness or their weaknesses. This was in order to show them their need for a savior. The entire Old Testament Law was for this purpose, to show man his own sinfulness. What are the Ten Commandments? They are rules or laws given by God that we have all broken. Just take a look at those and you ought to see why we need a redeemer.  Look at the lady at the well. Jesus pointed out to her, her sin. He pointed out the fact that she had been married five times, and right now she was living with another man that wasn’t even her husband.

            This is a lot different than how a lot of churches and how a lot of people witness to others. But I believe we have to get back to doing it the way Jesus did. People need to see their own sinfulness before they can truly see their need for a savior. If you don’t see why you need a savior, will you truly seek Him? I think this is why we see so many false conversions. The Gospel is watered down, and sin is sugarcoated. Everyone is told that God loves them no matter what, and they are never told that sin is wrong. There wrongs are never pointed out. But this is completely contrary to how Jesus worked. Jesus always exposed your sin, and showed you exactly why you needed Him. I pray that we as a church and we as believers never do that. When we are telling others about Jesus, yes we have to tell them about God’s love. But we also have to tell them why they need Jesus. If they aren’t convinced of their own sinfulness why will they feel a need to be saved? Too many churches have become social clubs, status symbols, and in some cases just entertainment. Most churches will tell you all you have to do is say a certain prayer a certain way, and you will be saved. 

            Why does this happen? Well, mainly because we don’t like it when people point out our faults to us. We can learn from this official. Our Bible calls him an official, and that is a little vague. In all likelihood this was a man of some importance. I’ve read in some commentaries that he was most likely part of King Herod’s court. This being a man of some importance, he was probably a very proud man and it was probably unlikely that He was rebuked very often. He could have gotten offended and went back home. He didn’t. Why do you think that is? It was because his son was at the point of death. He knew that he needed Jesus. He was desperate. This is the point that we are all at before we put our faith and trust in Him and accept Him as Savior. We are at the point of death. As it says is Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” We have to realize that we need Him before we can truly be saved. If we are witnessing to others, we have to make them understand that they too are at this point of death. They too ought to be desperate. Praise God though there is a second half of that same verse. It says, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

            What got this man to his point of desperation? It was the fact that his son was dying. He was desperate for help. He knew that his only hope was Jesus. Sometimes we all get to this point. Perhaps you are at this point right now. Whether it is your need for salvation, or maybe there are some other circumstances in your life. God allows things to happen to show us how much we truly need him. Sometimes He allows us to get to a point of brokenness so that we can see that He is our only hope. He is our only way out. If this is you today, put your trust in Him. No matter your circumstances, no matter where you are in life. He can help. He is more than capable. Don’t have any preconceived notions of how it is suppose to happen. Don’t put any boundaries on God. Just cry out to Him. Believe the Words of Jesus. Just listen to Matthew 11:28-29,”Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Those are comforting words from our Savior, and ones that I know many of us need to hear today, or have needed to hear in the past. And I can guarantee you that those words will give many of us comfort in the future.

            I focused early on in the Sermon on “signs and wonders”. I talked about how sometimes many people need to see them in order to believe in Jesus, or for our faith to be strong. I said that we can’t necessarily depend on the miraculous in order to come to a belief in Jesus, or for our faith to remain strong.  But perhaps we have the wrong perspective, or we have the wrong idea of what types of miracles to be looking for. Let’s take a look at John 14:11-14, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

            The first thing that stood out to me about this passage of Scripture is that Jesus said that those who believe in Him will do the same works as He did, and even greater works than Him. Well what types of things did Jesus do? He gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk again, healed the sick, and even raised people from the grave. How is it possible that we as believers could do greater works, greater miracles than this? Let’s just think about this for a moment. What about people that are spiritually blind? What if we tell them about Jesus and their eyes are opened? What about people that are just limping through life? What if we tell them about the love Jesus has for them and their lives are turned around? What about those who are spiritually sick, and spiritually dead? What if God works through us to minister and witness to these people and they come to knowledge of Jesus and are saved and given a new life, eternal life? Are these not even greater miracles that just seeing someone healed here in the physical world? I believe so. I think anyone that has come to that knowledge of Christ, and has turned from their sin and been saved would agree. What greater miracle is there than to know that you were once on your way to hell, and God saved you and gave you a new life and an eternity with Him in heaven. You know the greatest miracle of all is the one in which the God of the universe came down to earth in human flesh, bore our sins on a cross, died, but was then raised from the grave in order that we might be forgiven for our sins. That is a miracle that we all can experience, all we have to do is put our faith in Him, and ask Him to come into our lives.

            Perhaps the testimonies of these people who have experienced these life changes are the miracles that people truly need to see. If you are someone who has experienced it, then you yourself are a walking talking miracle. Maybe you need to show someone. Or maybe you’ve forgotten that and lost sight of that miracle, and more importantly the one who did it, Jesus. Let’s all focus our lives and our attention on Him, and ask Him to continue to show us that no matter who we are, where we are, and what obstacles are in our way, He is bigger than all of that. Let us ask Him to strengthen our faith, and help us to always remember that He is indeed the Savior of the World.

           

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