Do you ever think about how the people in the Gospel stories went on with their lives after their encounter with Jesus? I think about that a lot!
Did the changing of the water to wine change the life of the master of the banquet or the bridegroom? Did the woman at the well have a life change because of her encounter with the man who said, “I am he” (4:26) when talking about the anticipated Messiah?
It’s hard to know! The Gospel writers don’t tell us what happens in each person’s life. We can make some guesses however. I think Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to Jesus “at night” did appear to have a heart change that altered his lifestyle. Let me explain. It’s thought that since he came to Jesus at night, he was “hiding” from his own people- his fellow Pharisees that hated Jesus. Later, however, we will read that in broad daylight, in the view of all the Pharisees who had Jesus crucified, he boldly took part in preparing the body of Jesus for burial. (John 19:39) He was no longer hiding what he believed to be true.
On the other hand, the Samaritans who believed in Jesus when they encountered him on his journey up to Galilee (4:3), may have been the very ones who rejected him on his way back down to Jerusalem. Remember reading Luke 9:51-53? “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him, but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.”
What happened? Was this the same town that Jesus stayed with the people for a couple days and some became believers? (John 4:40) I don’t know if it was that same town, but it makes sense that Jesus would send his disciples ahead to a familiar house where he was once welcomed.
Disciple: “Hey!, Guess who is coming back this way?! Got’a place for him and a few others?”
Them: “Umm, about that…yea, our visit was great with him last time, but we aren’t into that anymore.”
Or is this a case of the believers staying silent and letting the nonbelievers who don’t like Jews speak for the whole group? Who knows?
What I do know is that people can have real encounters with Jesus but “fall away”. Matthew 24:10 says, “At that time many will turn away from the faith…but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The one that has an encounter with Jesus followed by a real heart change is the one who stands firm to the end. Maybe that’s why Jesus went back to Cana, to expose the hearts of those who experienced the great wine. (Expose their hearts to themselves.) How sad that he says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.” (4:48)
😬In the words of my kids, “Exposed!”