Short Meditations in John 4: 43. Warm Reception?
Jn 4:45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.
It is difficult when observing the responses to Jesus to determine, shall we say, the quality of the heart responses. In the Samaritans we have just seen a very simple and open response. Responses of others often were grateful thanks for Jesus having healed them or having healed someone close to them. The record shows however that at the end of his story (well not quite the end!) most of Jesus’ followers fled from him and so the quality of their commitment did not run deep enough to cover the threat against themselves.
There was also the case where, later in John’s Gospel, a number drew back from him simply because they could not understand what he was teaching: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (Jn 6:66)
Now when Jesus eventually gets back to Galilee he finds that the locals welcome him because a number of them had also been in Jerusalem for Passover and saw what he was doing. Now earlier in chapter 2 John spoke of the first sign that Jesus performed (the water into wine) and at the end of this chapter he is going to soon refer to the second sign, but we should be careful to note that these were signs in Cana!
We say this because earlier in John we read, “Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name.” (2:23) Note the reference to miraculous signs, presumably healings, performed in Jerusalem and these Galileans had been around in Jerusalem when he had done them, Thus now they welcome him as a performer of miracles who has come to their area, and the assumption must be that he will carry on performing such healing miracles (which he does!). There is therefore a certain element of ‘following for personal benefit’ which is understandable and yet not the best motive for a disciple.
The truth is that we became a Christian when we recognized our need, recognized that we fell short of God’s standards and were therefore alienated from Him and were hopeless and helpless. We needed Jesus to deliver us from our sin and bring us into relationship with the Father. Now I am never sure how many of these things most new believers are clear about because sometimes people come to Christ on what seem to be very superficial reasons and yet their conversion is absolutely real and genuine. Perhaps we should simply note that reasons for following Jesus were many and varied and some of those reasons would not hold up with time.