“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. 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.
‘Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’
The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’
‘Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 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.’
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. – John 4:46-53
I cannot imagine the desperation that this father must have in this moment. A parent with a sick child “close to death” would do anything to help them. He heard that Jesus was somewhat nearby and so he sets off to find Jesus and “begged him to come and heal his son”.
The initial reply of Jesus is interesting. He says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.”
The father then again asks Jesus to come with him and heal his child.
Jesus tells him, “Go, your son will live” and with that the father obeys.
“The man took Jesus at his word and departed.”
Jesus was just making a point about “seeing and believing” and this father takes Jesus at His word without seeing anything. He has traveled far enough that he can’t make it home in one day and initially intended to bring Jesus back with him to heal his child in person, but Jesus declines to go with and instead tells him that his son will be healed. The father has to walk by faith and take Jesus at His word.
The journey back had the potential to be difficult. He wouldn’t be able to find out about his son right away and having gone all the way to Jesus to be sent back alone after a few words could have led to doubt. Whether the father doubted or not on the way back we don’t know, but it would have been understandable.
When he was on his way back home and saw his servants on the road ahead coming towards him, I am sure his emotions peaked, a bundle of hope and dread intertwined. At first the relief of the news that his son was well would have washed over him, followed by amazement that he was healed at the very hour Jesus had spoken the day before.
“So he and his whole household believed.”
Jesus seemed to speak against the need for signs or miracles to believe and yet here is an entire family believing because of a miracle Jesus worked. It seems that the father had some faith to take Jesus at His word and return home, but this would be saving faith, the belief that Jesus is the Messiah.
I’m not quite sure how to interpret the statement Jesus made about needing to see a miracle to believe coupled with performing one so that this whole family believed in Him, but I do know that we can learn from the father’s example.
When we go before the Lord, especially in desperate circumstances, we can and should take Jesus “at His word”, even if we don’t see the results right away or He doesn’t answer our initial request in the way that we wanted. The father was seeking for Jesus to come with and lay His hands on His son and heal him. Instead, Jesus healed him from afar just by the power of His word. The healing was even more miraculous and amazing in this way. Jesus didn’t even have to be physically present to heal and could do so with just the word of His mouth. The father had to take it in faith and did not receive the news until the next day as he was on the way home, but the Lord had answered his request.
We can also see the grace of God in seemingly little things. For this desperate father on his way back hoping that what Jesus said was true, God in His grace shortened his waiting time by having those servants set out to meet him on the way with the good news. He was then able to travel the rest of the journey home with joy. Even their meeting on the way was divinely orchestrated. If he or they had turned off the road for any given reason or stopped somewhere they may have missed each other. By declining to go with and healing the boy instantly, Jesus actually shortened the amount of time the boy, his family, and this father were suffering and displayed His glory even greater. It was in His grace and for His glory that Jesus handled this request in the way that He did.
Let us strive to take the Lord at His Word, trusting in His grace and power, and submitting ourselves to His perfect plan. We can trust that the Lord will always follow through on His promises, His Word never fails.