John 4:46-54, NIV

46 Once more he [Jesus] 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 miraculous signs and wonders,
" Jesus told him, "you will never believe." 49 The royal official
said, "Sir, come down before my child dies." 50 Jesus replied,
"You may go. 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, "The fever left him
yesterday at the seventh hour." 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 all his household believed.
54 This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed,
having come from Judea to Galilee.



February 13, 2011
Cana is familiar to John's readers because that is where Jesus
did his first miracle, among friends and relatives, at a wedding
celebration. When the hosts ran out of wine, Jesus turned their
water into wine that was better than the original.

In this passage we are introduced to an entirely different set of circumstances. We meet a government official, most certainly
a Roman Gentile (In the Jewish world, a Gentile was one rung
below a Samaritan). He was a man of influence and power, who
has a problem he has no control over. His son is sick to the
point of death.

This man has heard the talk about the Jewish miracle-worker.
As we do when we have no where else to turn, he went looking
for Jesus. Desperation can drive us to do things we would not
ordinarily do. Unbeknownst to him, he walked into a field of
controversy between Jesus and the crowds who followed him.

As the Roman official began to beg Jesus to have mercy on his
son, Jesus let loose a wave of frustration which he had building
up inside of him. It was an agony he felt deeply, one which
would never be assuaged because it was true--except for his
miracles, people would not believe that he came from God with
good news from their heavenly Father. Without visible, tangible
signs of his supernatural powers, they would not listen to his
words of life, wholeness, hope and blessedness.

As was his custom, Jesus set aside his own concerns and looked
deeply into the heart of this man. Go home in peace, he told him,
your son will live.


                                                                          More journal entries


December 7, 2001
Jesus went back to Cana where he had turned water into wine
at a wedding to which he and his mother had been invited. This
time the story is about a royal official. That must mean Roman.
The Jews had no royalty at this timeThe man's son was sick at
Capernaum. His job kept him away from home, even at this
critical family time. This imperial official came to Jesus and
begged him to come and heal his son who was close to death.

Jesus sounds like he is scolding (maybe words meant for the
crowd). Unless you see miracles you will never believe; or, that's
all you want me for! But the father continues: "Please, sir, come
before my child dies." In other words, say what you will but
please come; in your presence my son will live. This influential
Roman was expressing faith and Jesus rewarded his trust. "Go,
your son will live." The man believed Jesus and started home.
While he was en route his servants met him with the wonderful
news that his son had recovered.

What time did the fever leave him? 1 p.m. Exactly the time the
father had spoken to Jesus and Jesus had said, "Your son will
live." When this was made known, everyone in the household
believed. . . What exactly did this Gentile household believe?
That Jesus was the Jewish Messiah sent from the Jewish God?

This was the second miracle Jesus preformed after coming back
to Galilee. The second miracle and it, too, originated in Cana.

This family got their son back from certain death. My brother's
family is praying to get their 40-year old son back from the brink
of death. Many families around the world pray their sons and
daughters will recover from disease and other injuries. Jesus,
what can you do about that? Can we continue to believe in You
even as our beloved children die?

 

December 8, 1982

Jesus returned to Cana. I'll bet people brought him their jugs
filled with water and asked him to turn it into wine! Did Jesus
laugh at that or feel used?

Jesus, I don't think you ever should have started performing
miracles, (maybe some healings excepted) because people
followed you to see amazing things rather than to see God.
Miracles made you popular for a day.
People needed signs.
Today we need answered prayers, then we, too, 
will believe.
God answers prayer because he loves us, not to prove himself 
to us. Was it the same with miracles? Love makes all the difference. 

Unfortunately, some people have faith in God only for what they
can get out of him. God is so used and abused and its called
religion. A do-it-yourself God who takes orders from us? A Jeannie
in a bottle granting wishes. Forgive me when I am guilty of this
sin. People haven't changed from Jesus' day.


December 9, 1982
Jesus wanted to heal but didn't want people to become
dependent on his miracles for belief. This was a miracle of
compassion. The individual was more important than the crowds.
Why did this Roman official think Jesus would heal his son? This
was only Jesus' second sign in Galilee. What was the precedent
that made him believe?

The official wasn't too proud to ask. Others probably snickered
at what he was doing. Is this a sign of the father's love for his son?
That he would do anything to save him. He begged Jesus. Jesus
was reluctant because he knew people would just believe in him
because of his signs. But the father persisted. He believed Jesus
could help him and Jesus had compassion on his family.

On TV today people give testimonies of healings. These healings
are promoted as proof we have a God in heaven who still cares
for this world and has things under control. But does he? Why
are some people healed, and others are not?

We are cautioned not to believe in God merely because we need
a miracle. And yet what better reason is there to believe! And we
shouldn't tell God what to do and expect God to do what we want.
God starts by changing us, bit by bit, into an entirely new person. Transformation is the first miracle, actually a life-long miracle.
As with the disciples, with Nicodemus and the woman at the well,
all of whom were not physically healed of sickness yet their lives
were radically changed. So with us; hallelujah!

My prayer is that this day will be converted by the spirit of Jesus
to one of significance and joy, thanksgiving and peace, love
received and shared. Amen.


December 10, 1982
Jesus sounds like he is insensitive to this suffering, frightened
father. His words fall on our ears like a rebuke. Was he talking
to this individual or to the crowds? Was he testing for faith
and persistence?


December 11, 1982

Desperation, tears, fear; the end of it all.
Reassurance, comfort, hope, life, compassion; the beginning of it all.
The prayer--the answer. Pain--the miracle of healing.
Jesus made no demands on this family, other than faith.
No "Sell all and follow me." Simply, "Go home, your son shall live."


December 12, 1982
This father was not a disciple. He didn't mean anything special
to Jesus. One encounter is all they ever had. Need is what brought
this man to Jesus. His prayer was answered. What happened then?
The man possessed faith, and the boy was healed because his
father had interceded. But then what happened?

This is a familiar and universal story. Need brings us to our knees.
In faith we ask and receive from God's hand. Then its all over and
life goes on as usual. This miracle of Jesus saving the boy's life
may not have transformed anyone's life! Just like some prayers
of need, when answered, do not change the person's lifestyle in
any lasting way. Life goes from crisis to crisis, with few deeds
in between that express faith, love, devotion or service. Blessed
the person who doesn't get what they asked for, but whose life
was changed instead!


December 14, 1982
It's all over now except the recounting of the details. And of
course seeing the boy recovered. But we have short memories.
The past is easily forgotten and the present taken for granted.
The pain and agony of being sick doesn't get communicated
easily either. Who wants to hear it anyway! Put is all behind you
and face forward. Did the father take his son to see Jesus? Life
probably got filled with other things and good intentions got
buried underneath. Am I being pessimistic?

Strange--here is a man whose prayer was answered 100 %; his
deathly sick son was recovered. And instead of feeling his joy,
I feel sadness, pessimism, pity for this family. They took the gift
and miss the Giver. Why do I react so negatively? I've enjoyed all
the personal encounters in John's Gospel so far and responded
positively. Then I come to this wonderful miracle of healing
and . . . Praise doesn't flow naturally. I'm skeptical. There's
short term joy, yes; but what happened then?

Short term is not good enough for me. I want a life-long
encounter with Jesus. I never want to go back to having God
on the periphery of my life again, and yet I realize how easily
that can happen. It frightens me. I don't want to be like this
family that took from Jesus in time of need and then lost Him
by not sustaining the relationship.


December 15, 1982

What time did the fever leave my boy? Everything checked out.
Proof sufficient for belief. There were no doubts, everything was
clear and certain. Therefore everyone in the household believed.

What a contrast to the way Jesus called his disciples. He gave
them no proof, nothing clear, no security or guarantees. His
invitation sounded more like--Take a risk and follow me;
as you follow you will believe, you will understand, you will
see mighty works.

I would chose the latter. There was no miracle when John the
Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, or when Jesus
called Andrew, Peter, Phillip and Nathanael. No prayers nor
great requests were granted for Nicodemus or the woman at
the well; these were character transformations. Answers to
prayers never prayed!

Am I looking at this passage fairly? Tomorrow I will write a
positive account, For example, as long as this child was alive, for
as long as he lived, he reminded people of Jesus. Well and good
as long as Jesus was enjoying popularity; but Jesus died in
disgrace. What did this family believe after that?


December 16, 1982
What is wrong with me? I can't come up with anything positive
on this second Galilean sign. This father and Roman official is
lauded for his great faith and for knowing the right place to turn
when he needed help. That is true, some of us don't even do
that well, and Jesus is a last resort, not an initial, natural response.

So this man should be remembered for a very practical faith--
He believed enough to ask Jesus to get involved in a personal,
family matter. He took the chance--Jesus could have said no.
It was Jesus' first healing in Galilee, the father didn't know Jesus
would do it. It's interesting that he expected Jesus to travel to
his home to see his son. Who was giving the orders in this
episode--Jesus or the official?

Things were so "ify"; there was plenty of room for doubts. What
made this man so confident?--first that Jesus could and second
that Jesus would? Those are two different things. I always
believed Jesus could. (I got that faith in my childhood, "God can
do anything but fail." My grandmother had that motto hanging
on the bedroom wall.) But believing that God would is another
matter.
Just since I've practiced a regular quiet time, have
I begun to realize the 
"Jesus would" type of faith. And whatever
Jesus would, is pure gift, given at 
his discretion. Do these gifts
depend on my faith? Not entirely, not necessarily.

People who receive these gifts fall into one of two categories:
Either God has chosen them, or they have chosen God. I am
very reluctant to believe that God has chosen me, there's too
much room for doubt. I have chosen him (like Nathanael) and
Jesus has welcomed me.

The official--Jesus told him to go home. To me those are very
sad words. Jesus had not chosen him, and the official never
chose to follow Jesus. Most people feel relief at these words,
"Go home". Jesus didn't detain him--good. Jesus didn't tell him
to, "Stay with me for a few days first--then I'll heal your son."

But that's how Jesus answered my prayers following my operation.
Not the way I wanted, but now, looking back, how beautiful it
was. Thank you Jesus for not answering my prayer for healing
last December. Jesus said to me instead--"Stay with me awhile,
follow me, take my yoke, learn to love and trust me. Maybe I'll
heal you later." So I settled in for a long recuperation, and the
more I stayed with Jesus the less concerned I was with healing
and getting a job, having a calling, significance and meaning,
being loved.

So when I read about this official and the miracle of healing,
I read my own 
experience into it. His story was beautiful, a
testimony of daring faith, and 
cause for great celebration. But
the sorrow of my experience is cause for 
celebration, too. The
path you chose for me--the pain, disappointment, 
uncertainty,
the immobility, kept me close to you over a long period of
time 
and therein is the blessing you gave to me and which
this official missed.

It must sound really weird to thank God for illness. But as it
says in the 23rd Psalm, "You make me lie down in
green pastures . . . ."

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