John 4:48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
Jesus had just come from Samaria where he had met the woman at the well. There, in hostile territory, the people believed in Jesus and that he was the Messiah. Yet, he never performed a single miracle in their presence. Instead, they allowed him to minister to them on a spiritual level, one which reached down into the very deepest need in their lives. As he left the people said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world” (John 4:22). Can you imagine, it was the Samaritans who declared that he was the "Savior of the world!"
Now Jesus finds himself in Galilee. This is his home territory and in Mark read, '"Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house” (Mark 6:4). And Jesus was unable to do much work there because of their lack of faith. So, here in Galilee he is not seen as the "Savior of the world" but as the hometown boy who is able to do a few tricks. People had their own thoughts about how this was to be accomplished. A nobleman came to Jesus and asked him to come to his home to heal his son. The Samaritans had seen no miracles and yet believed but here in Galilee, unless Jesus came to the home and performed in a particular way, the people would not believe.
The comment above was not just for this one man, but for the entire crowd. The new NIV clears up the Greek for us just a little by saying, '“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”' He was addressing the entire crowd and it was an indictment on all of those present that in Galilee, the very place where he performed his first miracle, there was very little faith.
Could it be possible that we have become so familiar with Christ that we have begun to take him for granted, just as the people of Galilee did? Jesus is our "hometown" boy -- he is the bridegroom of the Church -- he is the one we go to church to worship weekly. And yet, could there be something so familiar about this experience that has made us immune to recognizing his presence with us and his ability to minister to our deepest needs by way of simple faith?
The people of Galilee wanted Jesus to "perform" signs and wonders. Interestingly their lack of faith made it difficult for Christ. In Mark we are told, "And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief" (Mark 6:4-5). Would he be amazed at our unbelief today?
Faithful followers of Jesus Christ should not demand and/or expect signs and wonders. Our lives ought to be focused on Christ, the Messiah, the one who is the Savior of the world. This Messiah is the one who can come to us on an intimate level, speak to us and meet our needs without a big flashy show or display. But this is only possible when we have the faith to believe in who he is. He is not interested in putting on a magic show for us. Can you imagine how that might actually hurt his feelings! Jesus, the Son of God wants to have a deeply personal and trusting relationship with you and with me, and instead we demand magic tricks! If we were realistic we would examine our personal faith expectations and realize that we may be demanding our Savior to act and/or react in a particular manner. Jesus will not respond to us in this way. We are to walk in faith, just as the Samaritans, and open ourselves up to a personal relationship with him, and in this way he can and will reach down and meet our very deepest needs. Too often the flashy signs and wonders last for a night, but the depth of faith which is revealed in a personal faith walk with Christ transform us for a lifetime. We shouldn't be fooled into believing that the flashy is what we want of need. Instead, we should sit by the well and allow the one who can fill us with his eternal sustaining water satisfy our every need.
Lord, please help me to grow in simple faith. Amen.