Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Official's Need For Stronger Faith

After His two-day retreat with the Samaritans it was time for Jesus and His disciples to continue on to Galilee. Here, John wrote, in parentheses,
(For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) (John 4:44)
And yet the very next verse says that the Galileans welcomed Him. What was John trying to say, then? The Samaritans had put their faith in Jesus as the prophet Moses had prophesied, as the Savior of the world. They didn't need any signs to believe.

Now look at why the Galileans welcomed the Lord: because they had
...seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast. (John 4:45b)
They didn't know Jesus for His teaching, or for Who He was. They were just glad to have the miracle worker in town.

Jesus and His disciples made their way to Cana, which was Nathanael's home town, very likely to revisit friends and family,
...where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. (John 4:46-47)
This man was likely an official of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee.

It's possible this is the same person we read about in Luke 8, Herod's steward Chuza, whose wife Joanna helped provide for Jesus' ministry. Or, he might have been Herod's foster brother Manaen, from Acts 13, who was one of the early leaders in the church. In either case, this is how the Lord became connected with his life.

Capernaum was twenty miles away, so this official had spent all day getting to Jesus. He was worried about his little boy, and he had come to Jesus for a miracle. It was his last-ditch chance to save his child's life.

Imagine the scene.

Jesus was probably at Nathanael's house with His disciples around Him. Others were there because of Jesus' fame for performing these signs. Now a royal official had arrived and wanted to take Jesus all the way back to Capernaum to heal his son. Imagine Jesus looking at the crowd around Him, then saying,
"Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe."
That seems like a harsh answer to a father who's on the verge of losing his son!

You know the saying, "seeing is believing." The official took it for granted that Jesus would have to go to Capernaum to heal his son. He was convinced that Jesus' power did not extend beyond His immediate surroundings. He also thought that all would be lost if his little boy died. So whatever faith this official had, it was not in the person of the Lord Jesus, Messiah, God the Son. It was the kind of faith you might put into a miracle worker.

A faith based on miracles is a weak faith. A faith based on what that sign points to is biblical faith. Miracles should never be a substitute for the person from Whom that power comes: the Lord Jesus, Messiah, God the Son. Miracles are secondary and they should have a secondary place in our lives to trust.

Jesus' purpose for this official was not just for his little boy to be healed. After all, that little boy would one day grow up and die of something else. We all eventually die of something. When God doesn't seem to meet your urgent need, there there is a spiritual need that is even more urgent. Jesus' purpose for this man, and his household, was to have eternal life.

So the Lord challenged the official to a stronger faith, to take Jesus at His word, even without any visible change or sign. "Don't just believe in what I can do for your little boy," Jesus was saying, "Believe in Who I AM!"

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment by clicking on the word "comments" below, and join the conversation


  1. Though Jesus may withhold what we ask for He will give us Himself.

  2. Agreed. Sometimes the thing we're asking for is not the best thing, regardless of how it seems, and the Lord will draw us close to Him as our comfort in being denied that petition.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts