John tells a story about a royal official whose son is dying in Capernaum. The official hears Jesus is hanging out in another town and decides his son’s only chance at survival is a divine healing from Jesus (John 4:46-47). According to one source, this official had to walk 20-25 miles uphill to get to Jesus in Cana. Desperate times, desperate measures.
When he found Jesus, the official put aside all his stately dignity and begged Jesus, the blue-collar carpenter, to come heal his son (John 4:47).
No doubt this official had heard of Jesus’ uncanny ability to perform miracles. And he obviously had some measure of belief that Jesus could miraculously heal his son.
Yet, curiously, Jesus responds to the official’s plea to heal his son with, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe” (John 4:48).
The best I can make of this reproof is that Jesus wanted people to believe He was the Messiah, not just a miracle-worker. In other words, “Believe in Me, not just in what I can do.”
Nevertheless, Jesus performs a healing miracle right then and there… (John 4:50). It’s as if He doesn’t like that we are more impressed by his performances than His heart, but that’s not going to deter Him from doing what He came to do. In fact, even though He doesn’t like it, if we need miracles to help us believe in His diety, He’ll perform them… whatever it takes to get us to understand who He really is.
After Jesus says the words that indicate the son is healed, listen to what the official does, “The man took Jesus at his word and departed,” (John 4:50).
How completely ridiculous is this situation?
All Jesus did was say, “You may go. Your son will live,” (John 4:50). Remember, the official had begged Jesus to come heal his son – not give a word from 25 miles away that everything was going to be ok. Surely a healing would require some laying on of hands, some praying over, some anointing with oil – SOMETHING.
If I were this official, I’d be asking some questions. Like, “Are you sure, Jesus? Don’t you think you should come with me just in case the miracle didn’t take? Wouldn’t healing work a little better if you were in the SAME TOWN as my son?”
But the official didn’t say anything like this. He took Jesus at his word and left! To him, the healing was as good as done, no matter how nonsensical it seemed, and he was off to see his boy. There was no hanging around to chit chat with Jesus; there wasn’t even a thank you. His love and concern for his son were the primary things on his mind.
The story goes that the son was in fact healed at the very moment Jesus said he was (John 4:53).
When you and I read this story today, we have to ask ourselves how often do we take Jesus at His word?
How often do we doubt the promises He’s given us in His Word?
How often does He speak, and we question Him?
How often does He speak, and we ignore Him?
How often does He speak, and we dawdle?
These kind of responses all come down to a lack of trust in who He is and what He can do. The good news is there are some things we can do to bolster our faith in Him. Like read the scripture accounts of His goodness. And recount the ways in our own lives He has proven Himself faithful. And read other people’s accounts of how God has been trustworthy. And flat out ask Him to help us take Him at His word, 100%, like the royal official in this story did.
And the more we step out in faith and trust Him, the more He will prove His trustworthiness to us. Which, in turn, will encourage us to trust Him even more. It’s a beautiful cycle to get caught up in.
Let’s give it a try?