John 4:43–54: The Word of Jesus
After two days of successful ministry among the Samaritans, Jesus completes his journey from Judea and enters into Galilee (John 4:43–46; cf. John 4:1–3). Jesus leaves the Samaritans and comes to his own people, but in tragic contrast to the readiness of the Samaritans to believe, Jesus’ own people do not receive him (cf. John 1:11). He comes as a prophet without honor in his home country (John 4:44), and that lack of honor immediately becomes apparent when a royal official asks Jesus to come with him from Cana to Capernaum to heal his sick child. Jesus probes the inadequacy of this father’s faith in ways that challenge not only the man, but us as well.
What exactly has Jesus come to do, and how does his mission inform the ways in which he will interact with those who do not come to him with the right kind of faith? Furthermore, for those of us living today, how should we wrestle with our own faith to believe in Jesus from afar, with nothing more than his word and his Holy Spirit? What does this story tell us about the word of Jesus in the midst of our own trials and sorrows? In this story, we discover a surprising truth: Jesus meets our deepest needs, even when he doesn’t grant our most fervent prayers.
1. How would you describe the difference between inadequate and incomplete faith from this passage? Ultimately, what does Jesus want from us? What moments in your life have caused you to evaluate the actual reasons you were following Jesus? How did you know whether you were seeking to gain his gifts, or to gain him?
2. Name a time in your life when Jesus did not give you what you asked of him in prayer. How did that challenge your faith? Did you grow through that experience in a way that you perhaps could not have apart from it? Even in the midst of pain, are you able to recognize the compassion of Jesus through it all?
3. What do your prayers look like? How do you ask God to meet your needs? Have you seen God reject your proposed solutions, while still giving you the overarching desire you presented to him in prayer? What does that teach us about how to pray to him?
4. Why do you think God does not give us more signs and wonders today? Are we lacking something that those who lived during the lifetime of Jesus and his apostles had? How does the ministry of God’s word, his sacraments, and his Holy Spirit compare to the signs and wonders that God’s people witnessed in the past? How is our situation worse off? How is our situation better?