Chapter 7 - Signs and Wonders
Helen Dowd

John 4:48 – "Then Jesus said to him, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."

Historical setting:
Time:
About 27 A.D.
Place: Cana and Jerusalem
Persons: Jesus, Nobleman, and sick man
Scripture: Luke 4:16-28; John 4:46-5:15

Note: In this, and other stories, Jesus' words are always direct quotes, and are in blue. Words of others are not necessarily direct quotes, but any that are, will be in blue.

Jesus' popularity was gaining momentum. He avoided going again to Nazareth, the town he grew up in. His recent visit there had caused quite a stir . . . .

Previously…
Luke 4: 16-18

He had gone into the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was His custom, and when He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah, He read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

He closed the book in the middle of the sentence, handing it back to the attendant. He sat down. All eyes were upon Him, as if expecting Him to explain what He had just read. He went on: "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Some of the people marvelled at His words. What was this Man saying? Was He declaring that He was the fulfillment of these Scriptures? Was he not the son of Joseph, the lowly carpenter? "Let's see some of your signs and wonders," came a cry from the congregation. "I hear You've turned water into wine and cast out evil spirits. So why haven't You shown us any of your signs and wonders here?"

Jesus answered them: "You will surely say this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.' Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country." Jesus reminded the group about Elijah. There were many lepers in Zarephath, but only Naaman, the Syrian was healed."

Agitation began to stir within the congregation gathered in the Synagogue. Suddenly their wrath exploded. As if activated by one mind, the group rose from the floor where they had been sitting, and rushed at Him. The leaders holding Him in their grip, the rest of the congregation following, they had led Jesus out of the city, to the brow of the hill that the city was built on. Their intentions were clear. They would throw Him down, thus getting Him out of their midst, and stilling their conscience, which had been screaming their sins at them ever since this Man had come amongst them.

Suddenly, just as the leaders were about to carry out their intentions, He was gone. How could this be? He was right there! They had Him in their grip. But He was gone! He had just vanished!

* * *

So it was that when Jesus went back to Cana in Galilee, His fame had preceded Him.

The Nobleman
John 4:46-5:15

Those that had been at the feast of the Passover in Jerusalem had heard Him in Synagogue, reading the words of prophecy. They had seen all the miracles He had performed. They had spread the word around. Also, the miracle at the wedding was still fresh in their memory.

The crowd thronged around Him as He entered the city, anxious to hear what this Prophet had to say. Among the pushing and shoving crowd was a nobleman, a royal officer of the King Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Elbowing his way through the crowd, the nobleman reached Jesus. "Good Sir," he said clutching at Him and bowing to the earth. "I am desperate. I have heard of Your fame and of the miracles You have performed. I implore You. Please come and heal my son, for he is dying. Oh, please Sir. I know you can do this. Although I serve in the palace of King Herod, there is not a physician there that can help him."

Jesus looked at the man kneeling before Him. He lifted His voice so that the whole crowd could hear Him, and said: "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe."

"Oh no, my Lord," cried the nobleman. "I do believe. I know you can heal my son. Your fame has spread all over the kingdom. Please come quickly before my little boy dies."

Jesus looked at the man. He did not see the pomp that would have been expected of a man in his position. He saw genuine humility. With great compassion for this man He said, "Go your way; your son lives."

Jumping to his feet and pushing his way back through the crowd, the nobleman began his two-day trip back home. His worry had drained away. As he neared his place, he saw his servants rushing out to meet him. "Oh sir," one of them shouted, even before he had reached his master. "Your son is fine. He's better."

"I know," said the nobleman. "What time was it that his fever left him?"

The servants looked at their master, surprise in their eyes. How could he know his son was better? "At seven in the morning his fever broke," one of the servants replied. "From then on he began to improve. He is now sitting up in bed, playing with his toys…. But how, Sir, did you know?"

The nobleman smiled and continued on to the house. The minute he had heard the words: "Your son lives", he had believed that Jesus had healed his child, but now he believed in his heart that Jesus had also healed his own soul. He gathered all the members of his household to tell them about the Man who had healed his son and had the power to heal men's souls. And that day, the whole household of the nobleman, who served in the palace of King Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

* * *

At The Pool
John 5:1-15

At the entrance to Jerusalem, near the Temple, was a gate in the wall called "The Sheep Gate," a gate through which the sheep that were to be used for sacrifices passed. Near this gate was "The Pool of Bethesda", a sort of 'spa', where people gathered for therapeutic reasons. Five porches with rows of ornamental pillars surrounded the pool. A partially covered area, providing refuge from rain or strong sunlight, was a place where hundreds of hopeless, homeless invalids congregated. At certain times an angel of the Lord came down and stirred up the water. The first person stepping into the pool after the water was stirred, received healing for whatever their sickness was: blindness, lameness, paralysis, or any other malady.

One man lying around the pool eagerly watched the waters, waiting for the stirring by the angel. He had inched as close to the edge as he could. This time, surely, he could tumble into the water. … He saw a stirring. Now was his time. But just as he was about to roll over the side of the pool, he was pushed back. He watched as the man who had shoved him away hobbled into the water and came out shouting and dancing with happiness that his body had been healed. He lay back down. Once again the feeling of hopelessness overwhelmed him. He had been a quadriplegic for thirty-eight years. His friends and family had long since forgotten him.

It was the Sabbath, and Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to attend a Jewish feast. His disciples wondered why He was going out of His way to go by The Sheep Gate, to the infamous Pool. It was a place most people avoided. Jesus walked into the midst of the most despised people of Jerusalem, the maimed and sick, lying on their mats, waiting—some of them hopelessly—for the stirring of the water. There was one man in particular that Jesus wanted to see. He walked over to him. Simply He said: "Do you want to be healed?"

"Sir," said the sick man. "For thirty-eight years I have been waiting to be first into the pool to be healed, but each time as I see the waters stirring and I struggle to get to the pool, someone else gets there first. I have no one to help me."

"Rise, take up your bed and walk," Jesus said to him.

The man didn't wait one second to ponder over the impossibility of the command. He jumped up, rolled up his mat and hurried away from the place he had come to despise.

As he was leaving the pool area, carrying his bedroll, he ran into some of the Jewish leaders, on their way to the Temple. Aghast, they gaped at him. "What are you doing, carrying your bed on the Sabbath? Don't you know that work of any kind is forbidden on the Sabbath? You are breaking the Law!"

The man looked at his accusers and said, "So what! The man who healed me said, 'Take up your bed and walk.' So that is what I did."

Who was this person? "WHO said to you, 'Take up you bed and walk'?" His accusers grabbed him by the arm and demanded who it was who had broken their sacred laws.

"How am I supposed to know Who He was?" answered the man. "I have never seen Him before in my life. How could I know? I have been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Do you think I would question a Man who has just healed me? Now let me go. I am on my way to the Temple."

The Jewish leaders let go of the man's arm and went on their way. The healed man had actually no intention of going to the Temple, but he went in, none-the-less. Sheepishly he looked around. After all, it had been a long time since he had been anywhere, let alone the Temple. As his eyes were wandering, looking at things he had forgotten existed, a Man came up to him and spoke: "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."

Speechless, the former invalid left the Temple, running directly into the men who had waylaid him. To avoid further harassment, he blurted out: "Now I know Who it was who said to me: 'Take up you bed and walk'. I have just seen Him again. It was Jesus, the Great Prophet. He told me to 'Go, and sin no more.'"

What? Who did this Man think He was? What right had He to tell anyone that his sins were forgiven? Does He think He is God? The leaders were furious. They would find Him. Oh, yes, they would! And they'd get rid of Him, if it was the last thing they did!

But once again Jesus slipped through their fingers, disappearing into the crowd.

^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~

© Helen Dowd

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