What Keeps us From Seeing Jesus

John 4:46-54

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine.And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 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.

48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

Jesus Heals an Official's Son (Part 1)

What is the main point of this text? What is the writer doing? 

He’s doing the same thing he has been doing over and over. The main thing he is doing is showing us the greatness of Christ by this astonishing miracle; but as a part of that, John wants to help us overcome obstacles to seeing the glory of Christ in the text. The way he does this is by showing us the kinds of things that keep people from honoring Christ.

So let’s look at these two aims as they relate to us: first, the kinds of things that keep us from seeing and savoring the glory of Christ, not just his signs; and second, the miracle that he did and what it tells us about him.

What Keeps Us from Seeing Jesus’ Glory

Verse 42 tells us what stood in the way of a true understanding of Christ and a saving belief in him: “a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.” There is something about being part of Jesus’ home that hinders their faith. Now none of us is part of Jesus’ hometown. So you may think this doesn’t apply to us. But the inner sinful impulses that made it hard for his own people to receive him and honor him—those same impulses may be in us. What are some of them?

1) Pride of Attachment to Someone Special

I see three. First, the pride of attachment to someone special. A kind of vicarious sense of importance. The people could say that this great miracle-worker grew up in their town. This makes them want for him to do his miracles. So they “honor” him in that way. But why do they want him to do these miracles? Because the more he does, the more their attachment feeds their ego. They don’t see the glory of humble service. They don’t feel the need for his grace. They use him. His power and fame feeds their pride. And so they don’t honor him for who he is, even though they think they are.

This impulse is very much alive today and can infect us and keep us from knowing Christ the way he really is. We can be attached to a church, or a movement, or a music style, or a person, or a ministry in a way that starts to feed our ego. And it will seem justifiable because it’s Christian. And subtly we begin to want this Christian thing to thrive not for the glory of Christ, but because it feeds our ego. And when that happens, it becomes harder and harder to see Christ for who he really is—the one who saves by grace alone, and who calls us to lowliness and servanthood.

2) A Sense of Entitlement

A second hometown impulse that may be in us even though we are not part of Jesus’ hometown is a sense of entitlement. If he is from our town, then we get first dibs, or at least special dibs. O how this mindset is still with us and creeps into our souls. If you ever start to feel entitled in yourself to the blessings of Christ, you are falling away from grace. A sense of deservedness or entitlement will keep us from knowing Christ. We will not honor him for who he is if we slip into this mindset.

3) Over-Familiarity with Jesus

And third, almost the opposite of the first two (but that’s how devious and subtle sin is) is a sense of over-familiarity with Jesus. This man is one of us. We know his mother and his brothers. He has always been so ordinary. How can he be what he claims to be? That same mindset can be in us: We are so familiar with the Bible, and with Jesus, and with Christianity, that it can’t shock us. He can’t do anything really mind-blowingly powerful. He’s too familiar.

O how we need to guard against these three impulses in our own souls. The first two (the pride of attachment and a sense of entitlement) minimize his grace. And the third (over-familiarity) minimizes his power.

*This devotion was taken from an article originally posted on Desiringgod.org.