They say “seeing is believing”. Is it also possible that “NOT seeing is also believing”? Consider this account of the healing Capernaum official’s son…
A Long-Distance Sign
“And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.” (John 4:47-50, 54 NIV, KJV)
I’ve always thought that Jesus’ conversations with Nicodemus and the woman at the well really showed the dramatic impact he had on other peoples’ lives. They illustrate how the Messiah talked with folks from very different walks of life in very different settings. Those conversations had a high degree of engagement. They resulted in changed lives. And certainly a man of God who healed, who fed thousands, and who walked on water deserved their full attention. Jesus was after all a famous Rabbi who had a following and a reputation.
The Paparazzi Had Not Yet Arrived…
But consider this: this miracle in John 4:47 is the SECOND miracle Jesus performed, after turning water into good wine at the wedding in Cana. When Jesus talked to Nicodemus and the woman at the well, there would not yet have been any buzz started among the paparazzi. No adoring, curious, or hungry crowds had started following him around at this time. Nicodemus and the woman spoke with him without seeing or hearing about any of the miracles we are all familiar with.
The wedding at Cana had probably started a couple of rumors, but it was a private affair in a small, remote town. As Jesus told Mary, “My hour has not yet come.” He had barely started his public ministry, and “water into wine at a wedding” was not yet much of a resume. He had probably made a good impression at the feast in Jerusalem, but these conversations with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman took place BEFORE this second miracle, early in his ministry. The fact that Nicodemus sought Jesus out indicates that people were starting to notice this surprising young Rabbi, but if you put this event on a timeline, it happened very early in Jesus’ ministry.
So, What Does It Take to Believe?
Perhaps lost in the shuffle is that, with these two significant conversations, Jesus did not yet have a crazy reputation or mad street cred—just himself and the truth. Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman saw no signs or wonders, they just heard Jesus’ words and believed. Hmm… Imagine not seeing any of Jesus’ miracles and depending solely upon his words and the truth. Nicodemus and the woman at the well were able to simply hear about him, hear what he said and accept him. (Wow! Does that seem revolutionary to you? It’s actually a lot like us, based on the same type of opportunity everyone in the world has…)
If you had a conversation with Jesus today, what do you think would he say to you? If you are a doubter, maybe something along the lines of what he said to Thomas in the upper room: “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Like Thomas, you too can be blessed whether you’ve seen miracles or not. Listen. Believe.
Not Seeing Is Believing
It’s hard to imagine who Jesus was,
Before the attention, the crowds, the buzz–
A carpenter from a backwater town
Where no one followed him around,
Or said ‘Hosanna!’, or made a fuss:
“It’s Joseph’s son! He’s just like us!”
As he walked around, do you think they knew?
Did folks in the town even have a clue?
You could certainly tell he was no fool
When he taught the kids in Sunday School.
I’m sure they thought he was kind and wise,
And yes, there was something about those eyes…
But before any miracles were received,
There were some who listened, and then believed.
In a way they’re just like you and me,
With faith in what they did not see,
Believing in promises yet to be,
And the quiet man from Galilee…
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