Read: John 4:43-54
Are you willing to take Jesus at His word and believe? The central character in this story is an officer in Herod’s regime, “a certain royal official,” who begs Jesus to heal his son. The passionate plea was met with a sharp response, but Jesus healed the son anyway. The official had faith while the Jews kept their distance and watched.
Time with Gentiles
This story begins as a continuation of the previous interaction with the Samaritans. “After the two days” (John 4:43) refers to Jesus’ stay with them as a result of the woman’s testimony. Many Samaritans came to believe. Now we see another example of a Gentile, that is a non-Jew, interacting with Jesus. I wonder if He grew tired of the political and social divisions that separated people? In Pastor Kurt Stutler’s message yesterday, he pointed out that social segregation was far worse in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry than we see in 2018. It’s hard to believe, yet true!
Welcome or Not?
On the surface, this verse seems favorable:
When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there. John 4:45
However, as we look at the parenthetical comment in the previous verse along with Jesus’ assertion that they only want to see signs and wonders, we have to conclude that the phrase “welcomed him” should have had air-quotes around it. What they wanted was the show to continue, to a lesson to learn. The last thing these Jewish people wanted was to hear what Jesus had to say. Instead, they wanted more wine and miraculous healing.
The unlikely encounter with a Gentile official from Herod’s court shows that Jesus is not one to be put in a box. Somehow the official humbles himself and begs Jesus for the life of his son. As a parent, it’s pretty easy to understand. True life and death situations involving our children have a tendency to strip off all signs of pretense and authority. The official had heard about Jesus. This might be his only chance.
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. John 4:47-50
The official goes from frantically finding Jesus and begging for Him to make the 20-mile journey to his home and heal his son to simply hearing and believing in one simple moment. What did that look like? Did the official have a come-back to Jesus’ rhetorical question? Did they lock eyes? Did the disciples form a circle and let the man in to meet Jesus? Who knows?
At some point, the man had an encounter with Jesus and knew without a shadow of a doubt that His word was the word. Enough said. It is done.
The disciples spent hours and hours with Jesus and yet they struggled to have the faith of a Gentile serving in the oppressive court of Herod. We may be in good company, but that’s no excuse to lack faith.
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 4:53
Lord help us to look into your eyes and believe. Increase our faith. Replace unbelief with radical courage. Holy Spirit, You are alive in us. Shake us up to be on mission for Christ as you have gifted us so that all would believe!