So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, pleading that He would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” And the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. While he was going down, his servants met him and told him, “Your son lives!” When he inquired of them the hour when he began to heal, they answered, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” Then the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” So he and his whole household believed. John 4:46-53
The Scriptures tell us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). What does this mean? It means faith takes hold of things promised to us in God’s Word even though we can’t now see them with our eyes. And, indeed, we as Christians “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7; cf. Hab. 2:4).
God promises to all of us who trust in Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross His pardon and forgiveness for all our sins. Can you see this forgiveness? Do the heavens open, and does God’s voice sound audibly from heaven saying, “I forgive you all your sins”? No, we have only the word of the Gospel in our Bibles and preached by God’s ministers telling us it is so.
When we are sick and facing our mortality, do we see Jesus on His throne of glory and God’s angels descending from heaven to carry us home? No, we have only God’s promise that His angels will carry our souls into the bosom of Abraham because Jesus died for our sins and rose again (cf. Luke 16:22; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:21-23).
Many do not believe in God’s promises because they can’t see them with their eyes or understand them with their minds. But Jesus would have us trust Him and His Word and live by faith in His promises.
Consider the nobleman who came to Jesus while at Cana in Galilee. He came to Jesus from Capernaum (in the valley along the Sea of Galilee) because his son was deathly ill, and he asked Jesus to come down to Capernaum and heal his son.
But what did Jesus say? “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
The nobleman had heard of Jesus and thought Jesus could help in this hour of desperate need — if Jesus came down to Capernaum and to his house. But did Jesus, the eternal Son of God who created all things by His almighty word, need to go and be visibly present in this man’s home? Jesus desired this man to have faith in His words even if he could not yet see their fulfillment with his eyes. Jesus told him, “Go your way. Your son lives.”
A remarkable thing happened. This man who had begged Jesus to come down before his son died now believed and returned to his house. Jesus’ words not only expressed a truth; they had power — the power to create faith in this nobleman. The nobleman now believed and walked by faith all the way down to Capernaum (about 20 miles), where his eyes saw the truthfulness of what he had believed. And, as a result, both he and his household came to believe and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior!
The Word of God tells us Jesus is none other than God Himself in human flesh, who came into this world to redeem us from sin and eternal death. The Word of God tells us that He died as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world — in John the Baptist’s words, Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Word of God tells us He rose from the dead on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. The Word of God promises us pardon and forgiveness through faith in Jesus and His cross, and the Word of God promises all who trust in Jesus a place in God’s everlasting kingdom (John 3:14-16; 5:24; 14:1-6).
Can you see it? Does Jesus prove it before our eyes with modern-day signs and wonders? No, He tells us it is so in His Word. And that Word has power. St. Paul writes in Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” In Romans 10:17, the Bible says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
As we live our lives in this world, Jesus would have us walk by faith and not by sight. He would have us take Him at His Word and not have to see signs and wonders before we will believe.
And, like the nobleman, when we get home, we will see with our eyes the truthfulness of His Word. When we are received into the glories of our eternal home through faith alone in the merits of Christ, we will see that indeed Christ did atone for all our sins, that God accepted His atonement as His resurrection proves, that when we have God-wrought faith in Christ all our sins are pardoned and forgiven and that, through faith in Christ, the eternal joys of heaven are indeed ours!
O God, graciously grant that we walk by faith in Your Word and not by sight, for only through faith in Christ will our eyes ever come to see the blessings which are offered and given to us in Him! Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]