Prepare to listen. Remember today: The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. (Psalm 126:3)
Read John 4:46-54
46Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ 49The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ 50Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. 51As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ 53The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household. 54Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.
A royal official (most likely a Roman soldier and thus the enemy of Jews) approached Jesus on behalf of his dying son. Jesus’ initial response seems more of a rebuke: ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you [all] will not believe.’ If it was a rebuke, it wasn’t a rebuke of the father alone. The ‘you’ is plural, hence ‘you-all’; this includes the gathered crowd; and perhaps goes beyond to present day readers of the story, you and me. We too demand signs, thinking it will be the proof we crave and the means to create deeper faith. But this isn’t what Jesus wants. We see it in the story. He sent the father home without visible proof his son would live. He saw no sign yet he ‘believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way,’ one agonizing step after another. He illustrates true faith: taking Jesus at his word and obediently going without evidence of healing. True faith doesn’t demand signs, answers, solutions. It obeys, ‘sight unseen’, trusting the word of Jesus. Deeper faith, as it did for the father, follows. When he heard his son was well ‘he himself believed, along with his whole household.’ This wasn’t new belief but a deeper faith.
What might you have done in a similar situation? Can you too take Jesus at his word and obey without proof? When you do you will discover signs, however insignificant that will lead to a more meaningful and truer faith.
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Forgive me, Lord Christ, for so often wanting, even demanding a sign before I obey you. Help me live my life more like this nameless father, taking you at your word regardless of how I feel or what I think, continuing in the right direction. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world, taking Jesus at his word.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.