March 24, 2020

Signs and Wonders Amid Whines and Blunders

John 4:43–54

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43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 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.

Jesus Heals an Official's Son

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you1 see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants2 met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour3 the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Footnotes

[1] 4:48 The Greek for you is plural; twice in this verse
[2] 4:51 Or bondservants
[3] 4:52 That is, at 1 p.m.

Signs and Wonders Amid Whines and Blunders



Key Verse | John 4:48-50, 53b

So Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." The official said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. . . . And he himself believed, and all his household. 

Bio | Katie Gaultney

I'm Katie! God is performing His ongoing miracle of sanctification in me through motherhood. I spend my days with Ford (8), Virginia (6), Sam (4), and Daisy (2), through whom God tenderly reminds me of my need for Him and my inability to "nail it" on my own. It's the best and hardest job I've ever had, and it beats my "real" job of journalism by a mile. Brad put a ring on my finger back in 2007, and I've only lost that ring once. Read on for more about miracles, rings, and how to respond when God says "yes."

Central Truth

Why are we surprised when God answers prayer with "yes"? Respond to His grace and kindness with confidence in God's mighty power, gratitude for what He has done, and belief that impacts others.

Devotional | John 4:43–54

Married for less than a year, I had finally done the unthinkable: lost my wedding ring. Of course, any bride cherishes her ring, but this bauble didn't come out of the display case of a jewelry store. It was...

Married for less than a year, I had finally done the unthinkable: lost my wedding ring. Of course, any bride cherishes her ring, but this bauble didn't come out of the display case of a jewelry store. It was an heirloom in my husband's family, nearly a century old. And somehow, it wasn't on my finger. 

I zipped frantically around town, retracing my steps. Time after time, I came up, quite literally, empty-handed. I returned home, dejected. Finally, a crazy thought occurred to me: pray! 

Moments after I desperately asked the Lord to help me find my ring, I spotted it on the floor. My instant reaction was joy, followed by shock that God did exactly what I prayed. But why should I be surprised? Am I regarding prayer as a "sign and wonder" (John 4:48), a parlor trick that elicits "oohs" and "aahs" when it works out? Or am I submitting myself to the One whose ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9), regardless of the outcome? 

We don't get what we want just because we've prayed. God's kindness and grace still abound even in the "nos" and "waits." But Jesus' encounter with the official in Galilee reminds me of how I ought to respond when God says "yes."

The official asked Jesus to heal his deathly ill son. Jesus took him to task, saying, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." (John 4:48)

Nevertheless, the official pleaded with Jesus, and Jesus spoke a miracle into that little boy's life. "Go; your son will live." (John 4:50) It was a gift of grace. And the official responds, in turn, by believing, and his household followed. 

When God answers with "yes," my first response shouldn't be surprise, but "of course." I knew I was praying to the Maker of heaven and earth, in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Gratitude and adoration should quickly follow. And finally, like the official, I should move forward in the knowledge of the kindness I have been shown and impact others with my belief.

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Discussion Questions

1. God is not a genie or a gumball machine. In fact, prayer is a lot less about the outcome and a lot more about allowing the Holy Spirit to align our hearts with God's will. Ask yourself a tough question: Are you approaching prayer with a spirit of humility, trusting that God's best for you may not be what you had envisioned? Or do you hold a sense of entitlement when it comes to prayer, believing God owes you something, or that you deserve whatever it is you're asking for? 

2. Let's look at John 4:48. "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." In the original text, it wasn't a "you" singular; it was a "y'all," as we Texans say. Whether He was addressing a crowd of rubberneckers, or referring to the privileged class, to which the official likely belonged, Jesus reminded them to believe and acknowledge God's power without needing a miracle to demonstrate it. In what ways might you be measuring God's power against what He can do for you in your day-to-day life?

3. Many of us ask for signs and wonders, forgetting that God's greatest miracles are around and within us. Through the act of creation, God took nothing and made everything. He sent His Son to earth to live and die as a man, laying on Him the punishment for our sin and then raising Him from the dead to rule forever alongside the Father. And when we accept His free gift of salvation, God takes our heart of stone and exchanges it for a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Will you take a moment to meditate on the miracles God has done in your life and thank Him for them?

18 Comments available

Arnie Knecht 6 days ago

Katie, you “speak with wisdom and faithful instruction” … a blessing to your readers at WORLD and a treasure to Brad and your children. We are grateful for your and Brad’s model and ministry to our WM body.

Kenneth Rodgers 7 days ago

Great devo - thanks Katie!

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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I’m inspired too, Greg! Awesome.

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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Trey, I will join you in that prayer! Thank you!

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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Jeff, YES! I just prayed for you… For peace in the waiting, strengthened faith and trust, and God’s provision for your needs!

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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Such a good observation, Michael! May we observe His glory AND allow it to move our hearts ever more toward Him!

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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Thank you so much, Ivan. YES. I think a genie/gumball approach might be if I were to pray for something like wealth for wealth’s sake. You know? “Just give me what I want because I want it.” But I agree with you that the Lord is honored when we come to Him with our hearts’ desires, even when it’s recovering lost things! Really appreciate your comment!

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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Man, Hugh. Fantastic observations. Thank you so much for that perspective! And especially for the Scripture you shared!

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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Hey, Brad, you know what I realized? You put a ring on my finger 13 years ago TODAY. It’s our “engage-iversary!” How funny!

Katie Gaultney 7 days ago
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Sue, THANK YOU, my fellow editor! And I couldn’t agree more. So blessed by your wisdom!

Greg Jones 8 days ago

Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country…Once more he visited Cana.

Halfway between Nazareth&Cana, Gath-Hepher (means wine press)home of the prophet Jonah

Twice in Matthew chapters12&16 once in Luke11:29 Jesus declares to the people he’s speaking to, “they look for a sign but none will be given except the sign of Jonah”. John makes you think sign of Jonah again the way he words the beginning of the conversation, instead, “go your son will live”. The second sign.v54

Looking back at the first sign John 2

Matthew12:38-39 the sign of Jonah…while he was still speaking… Matthew12:46-50…who is my mother and my brother…

Luke11:27-28as Jesus was speaking…a woman …”blessed is your mother…” Jesus answered, “blessed rather, is the person who…” Luke11:29…the sign of Jonah…

Inspired picture John is painting.

Trey Collins 8 days ago

Great devo Katie, especially the discussion questions! There are 2 major takeaways for me in light of current events:

God performs miracles and can revive from the dead or make a ring be found

Prayer, as you said, is about aligning our hearts and not outcomes like miracles.

Praying for us both today that our hearts would be more like Christ’s!

Jeff Bassett 8 days ago

I love this passage as an example of reminding us to maintain our faith. Especially when we get a wait or no answer. That happened to me a couple weeks ago. I go a “not yet” answer on a new job opportunity I thought was a done deal. But, I had to keep the faith!

Michael Scaman 8 days ago

Really great title today!

In Psalm 65:3-4 there are things God shows believers in some type of special revealed truth "When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! "

and there are also thing Psalm 65:8 that God shows the world, like a sunrise or a sunset in some general revealed glory, like the glory of a mountain or the grand canyon.

All give God glory but not all those type of glory save. Some give a sense of general awe and some are even better give peace with God.

Ivan Gonzalez 8 days ago

Love your devotional Katie. I don’t think think you approached God as a genie or a gumball machine when you prayed for your ring. Not sure if that question is in scope with your specific devotional.

You prayed because you trust your father and he is good. He answered out of His grace and mercy. And you responded with humility and belief that God can and he did. Most people don’t even try. Thank you for sharing. Your story is encouraging.

Brad Gaultney 8 days ago

That is one good looking writer - and wise too!

Sue Bohlin 8 days ago

Hi Katie! Wonderful devo (that required no editing–Whoop!), thanks so much!

In this passage I note that the official twice not only asked Jesus for what he wanted–to heal his son–but also for HOW he wanted Jesus to do it–by coming down to his home. And Jesus answered his prayer in HIS way, not the father’s way. He healed the son from a distance, instead of going down to the official’s home. As I grow in my prayer life, I see more and more that I should ask for what I want or need and leave the HOW to God. Whether praying for my family or praying for the Lord to end the pandemic, I’m learning to place my requests in His hands and not specify HOW I want Him to answer. That can lead to frustration and the wrong sense that God is not answering.

Hugh Stephenson 9 days ago

Awesome devo Katie. Love the genie/gumball analogy.

Love this old commercial about gumball machines https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAsR4Gny_cQ

What’s in my gumball machine?

My flesh wants gumballs called money, marriage, kids, job, house(s), car(s), reputation, status, health etc.

God teaches me that these desires can come with other gumballs; “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like”; (Galatians 5:19-21).

These gumballs taste good; then get really sour; (1 John 2:15-17)

After barfing up enough sour gumballs I quit.

#slow learner.

Then, God showed me the REAL gumballs. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control; (Galatians 5:22-23). Also, the truth of John 10:10 and John 15:10-11.

I want God to take away the gumball of this virus. I link to Numbers 21:6-9. He calls me to look to Him, not to the world, (John 3:14-15).

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