Exploring the context of a biblical story can reveal a more complete and impactful understanding of the passage. This week Peter looked at the context for the story of Jesus and the disciples in Samaria, and Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. We saw that when we find ourselves out of necessity in places we would rather not be, there is often a reason that we are there. Even in these places God wants to use us to share the good news of Jesus with those around us, no matter how big the barriers between us may seem.
Do you think miraculous healings happen today? Have you ever witnessed or heard of a healing that you thought was genuine?
So far in John’s gospel, Jesus called together a small group of followers; turned water to wine (a first “sign” that only a few people knew about); staged a scene in the temple when he drove out money-changers and livestock-sellers with a whip; and performed some miracles in Jerusalem (that John doesn’t give us details about (2:23)). People were starting to pay attention—including people who had known him all his life, who happened to be in Jerusalem for the festival.
In today’s passage John relates his trip back to his home region (Galilee), where for thirty years he had been known as Jesus, son of Joseph, the builder/carpenter. What do you think this first appearance “back home” would have felt: 1) for Jesus? 2) for the disciples? 3) for the people who had known him as a tradesman? 4) for his family?
Looking at Scripture:
Read John 4:43-54.
How does the passage say the Galileans received him? What does v. 48 tell us about how Jesus perceived their welcome (the “you” in the passage is plural, addressed to more than just the man from Capernaum)?
There seems to be an edge of annoyance in Jesus’ statement in v. 48. Why do you think that is? Take a look at Luke 11:29-32 for a similar statement.
What can we know about the man who came seeking healing for his son? What does this tell us about who the message of Jesus is for?
The journey from Capernaum to Cana was over 20 miles on a road that climbed over 1350 feet. What do you think it was like for the man to walk there, alone, in the hopes of finding Jesus? What was going through his mind as he walked?
What do you think was going through the man’s mind as he traveled back toward his home? How do you think he felt when he met the servants on the road the next day, who gave him the good news? How did he respond to the miracle?
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt God had promised something good for you or a loved one, but you didn’t see it right away? What was it like to live in the in-between time?
How does this passage present a tension between seeing (miracles and signs) and believing (what Jesus says)? What do you think we can learn about how the two are related, and which is most important?
How can we cultivate the kind of faith that allows us to trust Jesus before we see him work?
Sum up the message of this passage in one sentence (you might want to start with “Jesus wants…”):