Wednesday, February 5, 2014

John 4:43-54 Pretend believers and one real one, Part II

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 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.
46 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. 47 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.
48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 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.”
53 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.
54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

Remember on Monday when we talked about how the people of Galilee were excited about Jesus' signs and wonders, and not about His being the Savior and Messiah?
Now, enter the official.
Let's dig in!
What did you think the first time you ever read this passage? Were you expecting to hear the same thing from the official, that we heard from the people of Galilee? From his request, you might wonder about that . . . he asks Jesus to come and heal his son.
Let's read again what Jesus said:
         So Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." 
Ouch! But what a minute!
If we look at the original language, the word used for "you" in that verse, is not a singular but a plural. He is not addressing the official only, but all of the people.  All of those people in His home area. He is saying . . . you are sign-seekers. You are worshiping the wonders, and not the Wonderful. You are telling Me that you believe in Me, but your belief is not real belief that honors Me, or places your faith in Me. You are not ready to treasure Me as the Son of God, full of glory. And that kind of faith, that excitement only in what I can do for you, actually disrespects and dishonors Me, and my Father.

So, now what about this official? Is he included in that crowd of folks who "believed" but didn't believe?  Was he like the rest, and seeking the signs, instead of the Savior?
Was Jesus testing him?
Perhaps.
He did not, after all, come saying, "I am sinful. Forgive me. Help me live for You." No, he said, "I have a need. Fix it."
Whether he was being tested or not, he comes through with flying colors. He doesn't even respond to Jesus' rebuff. Doesn't get mad, doesn't get huffy, doesn't pout.
He simply repeats the request.
Jesus doesn't comment (aloud) on his sincerity, and neither does John, as he writes. But what a gift is given to this official!
"Go, your son will live."
I get misty eyed reading that. The Creator of the universe has spoken, and we know in our hearts that it will be as He has spoken.
And this remarkable official, who had asked Jesus to come with him, doesn't stop to question -- he turns on his heel and walks home. He believed, and he went. He didn't insist on proof. He didn't complain that Christ wasn't coming with him. John says he left -- believing. Something had awakened in him, something that we call faith. He saw more than a sign-maker in Jesus; he saw a Savior sent from God.
The next verses confirm for us that his son was healed at the very hour that Jesus spoke. Look at 51-53 . . . the father knew that was the hour that Jesus had told him his son would live. His faith was encouraged and rewarded, and his household believed on Jesus, too.

Did you wonder why John wrote in verses 46 and 49 that this man was an official? The word he used is translated "royal one." It also means "connected to the king." The king that ruled over Galilee was Herod Antipas, a truly wicked man who had married his brother's wife and would later put John the Baptist to death. John is connecting the official with the court, perhaps to say that he is more like the Samaritans who believed in Jesus, than the Galileans who did not. That in the midst of a boatload of pretend believers, here was a real one.

So what, as Paul Harvey would say, is the "rest of the story? What is John trying to accomplish with this writing? We've said before that he wrote so that we would "get it." So we would see the glory of Christ. Tomorrow we'll conclude by looking at the kinds of things that keep people from honoring Christ, as the official did. What keeps them in the category of pretend believers, instead of hopping over into the category of real believers, like the official in our passage.

1 comment:

Belinda said...

I've always thought that it took faith to actually go to Jesus and ask Him for healing. After thinking on it, I'm wondering now if this was just one of those last ditch efforts. The ones like when we go to everyone else in the world for help, and only go to God as a last resort. In any case, it was a teaching episode once again, and obviously it turned this man into a true believer.