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John 4:43-54 (web)

Hometown Faith

4:43 After the two days he went out from there and went into Galilee.
4:44 For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
4:45 So when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him,
having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast, for they also went to the feast.
4:46 Jesus came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine.

There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
4:47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee,
he went to him, and begged him that he would come down and heal his son,
for he was at the point of death.
4:48 Jesus therefore said to him,
"Unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe."
4:49 The nobleman said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
4:50 Jesus said to him, "Go your way. Your son lives."
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.
4:51 As he was now going down,
his servants met him and reported, saying "Your child lives!"
4:52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better.
They said therefore to him,
"Yesterday at the seventh hour,{1:00 P. M.} the fever left him."
4:53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him,
"Your son lives." He believed, as did his whole house.
4:54 This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.

Discussion Questions

Why is it generally true that a prophet has no honor in his own home?
What are examples today of this principle?
What did Jesus mean by "Unless you see miracles you will not believe"?
What does he mean by "believe"? Believe what?
Why should we seek external validation of Jesus' claims?
Why do some not consider Jesus' miracles sufficient?
Having learned that this man Jesus could do miracles, what would you have asked him for?


Familiarity breeds contempt. Here we get a sense of contrast between the Samaritans - those who were foreign to Jesus - and the Jews which he grew up with. We read of the incident of Matt 13:54-58
Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked.  "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor." And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
But here in John it speaks of the Galilieans receiving him, having witnessed his miracles. But while the Samaritans accepted him as the Messiah, the Savior of the world, those in his hometown would at most only believe he could do miracles. There are many people today, including Muslims, who "believe" in Jesus in a limited sense. They may believe he is a prophet or that he could do miracles. But the ultimate and saving faith which Jesus speaks of is a faith that he is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

"Unless you see miracles you will not believe"
We must understand the sense in which he says this. First of all this is a generalization as is the expression "prophet has no honor in his own country". Generally speaking a prophet has no honor in his own country, and generally speaking unless you see miracles you will not believe. But this is not saying that such is true in every particular case. Though he is speaking to the nobleman yet "you" is plural and thus he is addressing the general attitude of the surrounding society.

But what does he mean? Is it not unreasonable for people to believe in him if he did no miracles? Yes. The Word of God is affirmed by miracles. But what Jesus is talking about is the demanding of more than sufficient evidence. For example after doing miraculous signs such as the multiplying of the loaves the people asked of him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?" John 6:30 So also today there are people who demand that God give them a sign or a miracle today for them to believe and yet ignore what miracles were already done in the Bible. Such a degree of skepticism is indicative of a willful disbelief and such a person lacks the spiritual quality necessary to come to saving faith. But this is not to say that such a person cannot develop that quality. Even here we see Jesus working with this nobleman's skepticism so as to instill in him such faith.

But this is also not to say the miracles automatically impart faith. For Jesus taught that "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." Luke 16:31

"You may go. Your son will live."

Consider a similar incident concerning the Centurion of Luke 7:1-10 who approached Jesus via proxy to heal his servant. He said, "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed." And Jesus commends him for his faith saying, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." In contrast to this the royal official here requests Jesus to come with him to heal his son. Yet Jesus appears to rebuke him for the proposition, though in fact in Luke 8 Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, requests Jesus to come and heal his daughter, to which Jesus complies without comment. But here we are given insight into Jesus' perception concerning such requests. Jesus wants to impart to this man the kind of faith the Centurion had. And this is more important to the Lord than the actual healing of his son. And thus he challenges his faith by simply telling him that his son will live and leaving it up to the man to believe him or not. It's like he wanted the man think of bigger things. You want your son healed? This is a trivial thing. He's healed. We're also reminded of what the Samaritan woman pointed out that "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." John 4:20 Many religious people are caught up on location issues or ritualistic issues. Upon receiving word just to wash in the Jordan, Naaman the leper responded, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy." 2Kings 5:11 God often does things differently or simply through a word just to take our focus off of issues of location and ritual so that these don't become the object of our faith.

There are many who come to Jesus to meet their needs. But their essential spiritual needs cannot be met without the revelation of who Jesus is. They come to the well only to temporarily satisfy their thirst but don't think to ask for the water of life. What would you ask Jesus for? Health? Wealth? Or would you ask him for the forgiveness of your sins?

NIV version used in comments

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Aug 15,2020