Jesus is always surprising us. He doesn’t fit neatly into our preconceived human categories – He’s always challenging our assumptions, realigning our expectations, and defying our limitations. Just when we think we have Him all figured out, He comes along and blows the doors off our limited understanding. That’s one of the ways we know we’re encountering the living and divine Jesus. If Jesus is God in the flesh, He should surprise us.
We know we’ve created god in our own image when he begins to look suspiciously like us and when he no longer surprises our souls. But with Jesus, we never have that problem. In this passage from John 4:43-54, Jesus gives us four surprises.
1) Surprising Rebuke: When Jesus enters Galilee, the crowd welcomes Him in an odd way. Then an official asks Jesus to heal his son. Jesus’ response: unless you [plural] see signs and wonders, you will not believe. Jesus is not a circus performer, and the crowd exhibits no real faith or belief. There’s a huge difference between pursuing Jesus to get Him, and pursuing Jesus to get His stuff. The rebuke is a warning about how to approach Jesus in a real way.
2) Surprising Faith: The official understands the rebuke, and exhibits real faith and real honor. He believes Jesus and heads home, expecting to find his son healed. He didn’t believe in just the signs and wonders, he believed and trusted in the words of Jesus. That’s a surprising faith that Jesus rewards.
3) Surprising Healing: When the official arrives home, he finds his son healed. Jesus didn’t need to show up in person to heal, because He could heal the boy supernaturally from afar.
4) Surprising Healer: The story teaches us that Jesus is wielding the power of the messianic age. So when Jesus heals, it’s more than just a demonstration of power; it’s a sign pointing to His identity as Messiah come to usher in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is ultimately exercising authority as the Son of God. He is demonstrating His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. How should we respond to all of this? Here are our three big takeaways.
- Jesus is near: No matter where you go, Jesus is near and always with you.
- Jesus is wise: He knows everything there is to know about us.
- Jesus is able: There is no problem in our lives that Jesus cannot overcome.
When we recognize who Jesus is and what He offers us, our response should be to admit our need for Him, believe in His name, and commit our lives to Him.