The Second Sign – Healing the Royal Officials Son
Home Church Devotional 5/17/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.John 4:46-54 (ESV)
We have all heard or perhaps even said “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” When things begin to spiral out of control, we get desperate. When money is running out and bills are over-powering us, we get desperate. When our cupboards are bare and our bellies are empty, we get desperate. When illness strikes and medicine doesn’t seem to work, we get desperate. When our children are sick and we feel helpless, we get desperate. And so, we find ourselves this morning facing an illness, the illness of a child. The father of this child is a high ranking official, most likely in king Herod’s court. But this story really isn’t about the illness or the child. It is about the desperation and faith of a father. Faith that progresses through several stages in this encounter with Jesus.
Most people do not truly understand what biblical faith is, they think it is something we feel, an emotion. But genuine faith is far more than a feeling; genuine faith moves us to action, to serve and to do for others; it moves us to obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. The first stage of faith we see is a beginning faith, this comes from a desperate need, the illness of his child. Scripture says the child was at the point of death. Every person has their needs confront them at some point in time, for some it is a daily confrontation. At some point a severe need will arise and confront us head on! It may be an accident, an illness, a disease or the death of someone near to us. It does not matter what our station in life might be, needs arise and confront us.
This father, this desperate father, heard about Jesus and that He had come to Galilee; this desperate father listened to what he heard. He easily could have turned a deaf ear, or think himself to important, or consider the message foolish or he could have mocked Jesus. Instead, he sought out Jesus to heal his son before it was to late. Facing this disaster of life, he comes to Jesus, the only person he has heard might be able to help his son. There is a price to pay for coming to Jesus. He had to leave the side of his dying son knowing he would be gone for a time. This father had to make a day’s journey just to reach Jesus, but he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, his only hope, showing his genuine faith.
This man did not let his lofty position keep him from Jesus; he did not wrap himself is pride or let what others might say about him keep him from coming to Jesus. He swallowed his pride, confessed his need before everyone, including those who would ridicule him and went to Jesus. Has your need pushed you to the point of desperation? Have you come to the point where you are ready to swallow your pride? Are you ready to turn a deaf ear to the thing’s others might say about you and seek Jesus, your only true hope? Upon finding Jesus he asked for help in healing his son. In the Greek the word for asked is much stronger, it is more like this father was begging Jesus for help in healing his son. The Greek also indicates that this is a continuous action, he kept on begging Jesus, he would not relent until his son was healed.
This is the second stage of faith for this father, a persistent faith. When Jesus did not immediately respond to his request, he did not back down, he did not stop, he continued to beg Jesus to help his son. Jesus, of course, knows all things, including what is in the heart of this desperate father. If Jesus would heal his son, he would believe. But Jesus wanted more for this father; Jesus wanted this man to realize His word was enough. Belief in His word is what would secure and assure an answer to his request. The power of Christ is available to this desperate father if he would just believe in Jesus. Belief must precede signs and wonders.
We now come to the third and perhaps hardest stage of faith, the trusting, obedient, working faith. When Jesus gave this father His word, the father believed. Without seeing his son healed, he believed. His faith was proven by his obedience to the command of Jesus to return to Capernaum. The response of Jesus to this desperate father was simple, five words simple. “Go; your son will live.” Simple yet forceful. And yet, the father believed without actually seeing that his son had been healed. The obedience of this father showed instantaneous faith and action; he believed immediately, and he turned immediately, heading home to see his son. Simply stated, he acted in faith. Both faith and obedience are necessary to receive the promise and help of Jesus. So, which are you lacking? Faith? Or obedience? Most of us lack the obedience part. It is hard to be obedient, especially growing up in a country that treasures its freedoms and independence. There is no real faith apart from obedience and action; our faith is proved by our actions, not our words.
This brings us to the fourth stage in this father’s faith – a confirming faith. As the father is making his way home, he is met by his servants with the news that his son is alive. This father was in the act of obedience – obeying the command of Christ to return home – when he received the news that his prayers had been answered. Once again, it is the father’s believing the promise of Jesus and obeying His command that brought the blessing. We must understand that both belief and obedience are essential. The father asked what time his son was healed, seeking to confirm that it was not a natural healing but a supernatural miracle. He is reaching for a stronger faith in Jesus; he is so filled with joy and thankfulness that he wanted to believe in Jesus more and more.
This brings us to the fifth and final stage of the father’s faith – a witnessing faith. Scripture tells us that after receiving the news of his sons healing, the man believed – and his household with him. The entire household, family members and servants as well, believed in Jesus Christ. Why? How? Because this father, so filled with the joy of having his son returned to him and thankfulness for the miracle healing, told everyone about his experience. It was his personal witness, someone the family and servants knew and trusted, telling them of the promise of Jesus and their obedience in following Jesus, that led them to salvation. Witnessing was not easy for this man, just as it is not easy for many of us, for many different reasons.
This man was an official, most likely in king Herod’s court. He moved through the halls of a corrupt government, among immoral officials. He would be facing ridicule and persecution; he might have to face the loss of his position and even the loss of his life. Yet none of these potential consequences prevented him from sharing his faith, a witnessing faith. He loved Jesus and what Jesus had done for him and he wanted everyone to know about the salvation found only in Christ Jesus.There are several things we must grasp whether you are just beginning to seek Jesus or if you have known Him for many years. These are crucial lessons for us in the day and age in which we live. First, we must understand that the Lord responds to our faith. Signs and wonders are not as important as believing in Jesus. We must remember that belief must come before seeing. There are people’s lives at stake, and they must first believe to be saved. Secondly, we must persist in prayer until the Lord answers. Persistence is absolutely necessary in securing the Lord’s help. In our persistence we show that we recognize and acknowledge our need and that we truly believe that God can and will help us. Finally, each of us has relationships with people we love and influence. How can we NOT want to share with those we love – family, friends and coworkers – about the glorious gift of eternal life found in Christ Jesus? Here is the challenge for every believer today, taking personal responsibility for the souls of those we love and doing everything we can to reach them with the gospel message to rescue them from hell.
So, where do you see yourself in these stages of faith? Are you just beginning to develop your faith? Or have you reached the zenith of faith? Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where you are in your faith journey, if you have a need, whether it be a simple pray request, a struggle of faith or meeting Jesus for the first time, please feel free to reach out and we will be glad to help you in any way we can. Time is short, there is no better time than now to meet the One who provides eternal life for those who receive Him and believe in His name. Amen.