Gospel of John Sunday School | Week 13

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Notes from John 4:43-54

We shouldn’t be too surprised that Jesus wasn’t honored in His hometown. A similar situation happens if we grow up in the church: the Bible, the ordinances, and the gospel become so familiar that they can lose significance. Those who knew Jesus prior to His formal, earthly ministry inevitably saw Him as “just Jesus” – not the Messiah. There was no inherent privilege for sinners in close proximity to the Christ’s hometown. Their eyes needed to be opened just like everyone else’s.

The Galileans’ disinterest is, of course, contrasted with the remarkable faith of the Samaritans. The rejection of Jesus’ message (not person) in Galilee is a microcosm of the spiritual condition of Israel to the prophets in general and God’s Son in particular (Matt 21:33-45).

We too must shed any apathy we may harbor towards Jesus, regardless of how accustomed to His presence we are in our life, and recognize and worship Him as Lord.

Following His arrival in Galilee, He is approached by a nobleman. In this account of Jesus performing a healing sign, the healing and resulting faith of the man and his family is often the focus. There is definitely purpose in placing this narrative right after the Samaritan woman and the Jewish royal official. The gospel is absolutely for every kind of person, regardless of social status. That is true, good, and a significant part of John’s intention.

However, we can’t discount Jesus’ words in verse 48. Jesus knew all men (2:24-25) and knew their predisposition to focus on the earthly (3:11-15). Miracles were not His mission. His mission was to save the world (3:17), and no healed son, piece of bread, or restored sight would accomplish that. Provision, signs, and teaching pointed to His gospel: it would only be by grace, through faith (1:7, 12:46, etc.).

This is another glimpse of Jesus rebuking His followers for not actually being His followers. This theme is consistent throughout John. Some follow because they want full bellies, others to be a part of the hype, and still others are simply fascinated by His wisdom.

Why do you follow Jesus? Is it for the emotional or intellectual stimulation? Is it for the promise of your best life now? Much of Christianity seeks to “do church” with one of those facets in mind, practically obscuring the core truth of the gospel. We should first assess ourselves, then our church, to ensure that it is the “true Light” (1:9) that we are placing at the center.

Lastly, it is worthwhile to mention the similarities between this narrative and the story of the healing of the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8, Luke 7). Both involve a man of earthly means coming to Jesus looking for healing for someone in their care. Critics of the Bible will claim that these are supposed to be the same event, and the authors “messed up” the details. Thus, some in the church, seeking to save face, will downplay the discrepancies and put the emphasis on Jesus as a healer.

It isn’t a stretch or a compromise to hold to the historic view that these are two totally separate events. This perspective, which upholds the integrity of the Bible, acknowledges that:

  • The Bible is true, accurate, and inspired
  • Jesus performed many miracles, including some that had very similar elements
  • John specifically included an account of a upper-class Jewish man needing healing for his son to create a literary foil for the Samaritan narrative

We can trust God’s word, and, by understanding these matters, help others trust it as well.

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