Summary: A grieving father comes to Jesus to ask him to heal his dying son, and yet Jesus rebukes him. Why? What possible reason could Jesus have to be so harsh with this man?

OPEN: An instructor was conducting a seminar for executives and focusing on the topic of decision making. So he started out telling the story of 5 frogs sitting on a log.

“Four of the frogs decide to jump into the water. How many frogs are there left on the log?”

The class almost unanimously responded: ONE

“No,” the instructor smiled. “All of them are still on the log. Deciding is different than doing.”

Our story this morning, tells about this idea of people making decisions.

Just to give you a little background. Jesus has just left the Samaria a couple days before where he met with a woman at a well and now He has returned to Cana where He did His 1st sign in Galilee. No sooner does He get there than a man approaches Him. The man’s son is dying and he has traveled 20 miles to see Jesus and ask Him to heal his child.

As I first looked at this text I was a little shocked by Jesus’ first words. John 4:48 tells us “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’”

And I’m thinking to myself… that’s pretty harsh! This man’s son is dying. He’s walked 20 miles to see Jesus - and Jesus rebukes him? I figured there was something here that I wasn’t seeing here, because this didn’t make any sense at all. Why would Jesus say something like THIS to a grieving father!

So I looked it up in the Greek and found that while Jesus addressed the father, He wasn’t saying (to the dad) YOU will not believe unless you see signs and wonders, He was saying YOU’ALL will not believe… unless you see signs and wonders. It was plural. Jesus was talking to everyone who was there. (Depending on your English version the translation will either make that clear in the text, or will put a footnote at the bottom of the page explaining this).

What Jesus says is here is - they weren’t really believing in Him. All they seem to want are signs and wonders --- but no commitment. They wanted WHAT Jesus could give… but they didn’t want Jesus Himself.

ILLUS: Think about it this way. Have you ever heard of someone buying a boat… and then suddenly they have lots of friends? Or have you heard of folks who’ve come into a large inheritance or win the lottery… and suddenly everybody seems to want to spend time with them. If it had been you that bought the boat or came into money you’d know something was wrong. Those “so-called friends” were there ONLY for the advantages they can get from you. You’d soon realize that they didn’t want you for YOU… they wanted you for what you could give them.

That’s what’s happening here. These folks don’t really want Jesus, they want what Jesus can GIVE them. So everybody there… including the dad… was there for what they could get from Jesus.

You see, Jesus has a reputation. He did that miracle at the wedding feast here at Cana – water into wine and everyone knows about it. And then there was what He did at Jerusalem. John 4:45 tells us “the Galileans (at Cana) welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.”


John 2:23 “while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name.”

Now Jesus has come back to Cana. And the folks want Him there - but not because of WHO He is but because of WHAT He could do for them. He’s become a sort of spiritual ATM. They’ve seen what Jesus can do and they’d like to have Him stay… they just don’t want to “follow” Him.

So Jesus calls them on it. They’d fallen into a trap. They’d confused the things about Jesus - with Jesus. And people do it today as well.

If there’s NO church building… they won’t worship Jesus.

If there’s a snow storm and they can’t get out for church… they won’t worship Jesus.

If there’s a family gathering or activity that takes them out of town on a Sunday… they won’t worship Jesus.

Because they’ve confused the BUILDING with Jesus.

If the songs at church aren’t to their liking… they won’t worship Jesus.

If the preacher is boring… they won’t worship Jesus.

If the seats are uncomfortable… they won’t worship Jesus.

If there’s too many people in church, or if too few, they won’t worship Jesus.

Because they’ve confused the things DONE in worship for worship OF Jesus.

Too often, people attach themselves to preachers, worship styles, buildings, the reputation of the congregation, the power that exists in their church, etc. etc. etc. and frequently miss… Jesus.

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO Download Sermon with PRO
Talk about it...

Dwight Morgan

commented on Apr 1, 2017

Great message.

Jon Forrest

commented on Apr 3, 2018

Well done, Jeff. You always have well prepared and presented messages.

Jeff Strite

commented on Apr 3, 2018

I appreciate all your kind words. I liked the sermon too. It's always fun to watch things unfold on these Gospel stories

Join the discussion