Jesus’ second sign in the Gospel of John begins with a distraught father (John 4:46-54). This father was a prominent official from Capernaum, who served under the rule of Herod Antipas. In the eyes of the world, he was successful, holding both authority and prestige. Yet this man had a problem that all the money and all the prestige in the world could not solve, his son lay sick and dying. It does not require one to be a parent to understand the inner aching of this man’s heart and the late night tears of his helplessness.
“When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him (John 4:47).” The desperate father had heard about Jesus from the rumors circulating the region. Knowing that his son did not have long, and that by making the trip to see Jesus in Cana he would risk missing the moment of his precious child’s death, he determined to make the twenty mile journey to find the rumored miracle worker.
Finding Jesus in Cana the father asks if Jesus will accompany him back to Galilee to come heal his son. He had an expectation that if Jesus truly was a miracle worker, as the rumors had suggested, then his miracle working power had to be tied to a nearness of proximity. In his wildest imagination, he would not have dreamed that anyone would have the power to heal a dying child from a distance of twenty miles.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way (John 4:50).’” I wonder what that man’s journey was like heading back to his child. Did he doubt the words of Jesus? Did he fear that perhaps his son had died and the glimmer of hope in his heart would fail him? Did he sprint the twenty mile distance with a child like anticipation? Did he stop every so often, fall to his knees in awe, and praise God for the presence of Christ in his life?
On the way home, his servants meet him on the road, and confirm that his son has been healed at the exact hour that Jesus had said, “Your son will live.” “And he himself believed, and all his household (John 4:53).” Whatever doubt was lingering in his heart over the identity of Christ and the authority Jesus held was removed as he and his entire household rejoiced, not just for the healing of a child, but for the presence of the healer.
Through this second sign of Jesus, we are introduced to a dimension of faith that may guide us through many seasons of life. Believing in the promises of Christ will often mean clinging to a glimmer of hope, while walking the long journey home to see how God answered your prayers. We cling to the very words of Jesus, knowing that if he said it, it will certainly come to pass.
*A number of the posts that will come over the next seasons are samples from a 40 Day Devotional Through the Gospel of John I am working on. The goal is to have this out and available heading into the Lenten season of 2023.