The Long Walk Home….John 4:46-54
Back during my student summers, I would wonder what it would be like to get my spiritual act together. I really thought it would happen, even anticipated what that might be like. After forty-five years of knowing Jesus Christ and bouncing along at age sixty-two, I’m still waiting. This study finds Jesus retracing His steps to Cana where He’d done the water-to-wine thing. And someone was waiting for Him, a royal official. That means he worked for Herod, a title describing Herod the Great and his three sons – puppet kings and collaborators with the Romans. Addicted to power and psychopathic in their lust to keep it, anyone working with them stood as a traitor in the eyes of the Jews. Power doesn’t protect us from everything. Pain, tragedy, suffering and evil – all punch through to bite us and it comes down on this guy now. His son in Capernaum, Jesus’ home base, stands close to death. And, so he’s heard, this guy Jesus heals people.
So he works the power protocol; he comes to Cana and appears before Jesus and lays out his case. The man’s son lives in Jesus’ home base; everybody’s right there and everything. His desperation is real but the guy who’s used to his position, power and wealth turning all the right keys on all the right doors learns that trappings of all kinds of human power and honor cut no ice with God. We can never make ourselves anything that will impress God. And Jesus is not impressed. We see it in His strange response.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe (verse 48).” Even ketchup on it can’t make this drip with mercy. First of all, if we want to tick someone off, address them as “you people”. Jesus says, “You aren’t one of us. In betraying us Jews, you betray our (and your) God.” But He says more. You want what you’ve heard I can do but you aren’t really interested in who I am. A number of people currently write stories along the lines of “I Tried Christianity But It Didn’t Work/ I Escaped.” In essence, they say “Christians are hypocritical jerks.” (Everybody else is too.) “I prayed to God and He didn’t give me what I wanted.” “God won’t bend to my selfishness so forget it.” “Something bad happened to me so God wasn’t doing His job.” We nibble at Jesus, enticed by the “free fish and chips thing” or the Goosebump factor. But when we get a taste of the cross, many bail. Does Jesus only hear from us when we want what He can do when He died on the cross so we could have Him?
Miracles, then and now, always come soaked in grace; nobody deserves either to receive or see one. But no matter how many we see, they do not deepen us. Look at Israel delivered from Egypt by plagues, crossing a parted Red Sea, eating manna every morning, being guided by a pillar of cloud during the day and fire by night, sinning over a golden calf at the foot of a mountain capped with the glory of God. How many of those people lived to see the promised Land? Only two. Even Moses didn’t make it. How many lepers did Jesus heal? Ten. Thank yous? One. The church most preoccuppied with signs and wonders (Corinth) was easily the most messed up. The history of revival and spiritual awakening bristles with stories of collateral damage of thousands who fixated on signs and wonders instead of obeying out of love the Saviour who performs them – whether He does or not. We would be amazed at how many people in our everyday lives have been touched in some way by the power of God who yet exhibit no signs of life in Christ today.
“Go; your son lives.” This interview is over; the power broker is abruptly dismissed. He wanted Jesus to come. Now he’s leaving. No praying over his son or laying on of hands. No waving a bag of chicken bones over the boy or sprinkling wiffle dust on him. Just “go”. We want “hands on”, to see it. It says he believed and started off and walked for about a day. Walking along the road gives a man time to think. None of this went his way or was what he expected. He felt sure when he left Jesus but now down the road a way, is this really going to happen? After the emotions fade and the road gets long and hot, was I conning myself? What am I supposed to think as another day passes and these hills mess up cell phone connection so I can’t see what’s going on at home? He spent a lot of steps and hours where he had lots of opportunity to second guess himself and Jesus. It was a long walk home.
Do I trust Jesus in this? Can I believe in the Jesus I’ve come to know in spite of the things I now face? We never will settle this once for all; learning over and over again to trust Jesus stands as the BIG ONE for the rest of our lives. We will grieve that we’ve been Christians this long and yet have such a ragged faith. New challenges and life stages will take the wind out of us, making us feel like we’re back to square one. When those times, thoughts and feelings assault, it doesn’t mean we’re failing; they mark the layout for the beams and forms for the next growth. Following Jesus is a long walk home. But, unlike the man in the story, it’s not lonely as Jesus walks with us. The intimacy of His company outshines without obscuring the beauty of what He can do.
Prayer and action point together this time. Jesus spends a lot of energy listening to people who only come when they need something He can do and only talk about themselves. This probably doesn’t jazz Him any more than it would us. How about some times where we clear the decks and say to Jesus, “All this time is just for You. What is on your heart? What would You like to talk about?” Psalm 103:1-5 would make a good conversation starter.
If you think that this might encourage a student during a long, hot summer, then share, tweet and all that social media stuff. If you’d like a taste of it yourself, then subscribe or ask to be on something on Facebook galled Geezer 1. It’s a cool group of mixed nuts who love students and those who love students. You coming on board would only make us sharper. Newbies buy pizza for the rest of the gang.
Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you leave. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.