Once more he 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. 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. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed. This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee. – John 4:46-54
I have never been a big fan of sequels. It seems when someone comes up with a compelling story and they tell it well one should leave that story alone and begin a new one. Some notable exceptions to this are continuing stories like the original Star Wars movies. The Empire Strikes Back was one of my favorites, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies, which were really one continuous movie, are amazing. This story takes place in Cana, a sequel to the wedding story from early in John.
In this “sequel”, Jesus returns to Cana where he turned water into wine at a wedding. The main character of this story is a “royal official”. It does not say whether this official was an official for the tetrarch Herod Antipas or the emperor of Rome, or whether he is a Jew or Gentile. Perhaps from Jesus’ perspective that does not matter. It appears that Cana of Galilee was about a half a day’s walk from Capernaum which was on the bank of the Sea of Galilee to the east. The man made this journey on foot to see Jesus.
The official’s son was ill in Capernaum and he had traveled to Cana to ask for Jesus’ help because he had heard of his other healings and miracles. I am afraid the man was approaching Jesus with the wrong posture and perspective. He had a genuine concern and love for his son which is not in itself bad, but Jesus was seeking followers who would worship God in spirit and truth. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that Jesus did not want the man to care for the life of his son, he just wanted him to believe and care for his relationship with God more. He wanted the man to make the journey to Cana to find Him, not just for healing for his son.
Jesus alludes to this with his response to the man’s request, “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” Jesus wanted people to come to Him for the right reasons with wondering souls ready for a change. I am not sure this man was at that place. The man is spiritually asleep and clearly does not get what Jesus is saying and is still focused on the immediate spiritual squall of his son dying. He says “Sir, come down before my child dies.” I think what Jesus wanted was for the man to turn inward and focus on his own lack of faith and ability to follow Jesus. The man made the right journey for the wrong reason.
Despite this man’s lack of focus and faith Jesus says “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at His word, which I guess is some level of faith, although probably not the depth and devotion that Jesus was looking for in this man from Capernaum. As he meets his servants on the way home they confirm that the healing took place at the exact time that Jesus had spoken the words “your son will live”. Apparently this was sufficiently miraculous and personal for this man and his entire household to believe and become followers of Christ.
I have witnessed what I would consider miracles that I cannot explain by the normal physical laws that govern our daily lives. Part of my final surrender to become a follower of Christ involved just such an event in my dorm room at college. It was not quite so dramatic as this healing in Cana, but it was the sign that I needed at that time to convince me that I should stop seeking God everywhere but where He was residing, in this miraculous man from Galilee, Jesus. That is where my journey began.
My journey ever since has been one of adventure, discovery, and wonder. I am continually amazed at the many ways that God has carried me, both before and after I began to follow Him. The reality is that Jesus loved and cared for this man and his son before they believed. This man made the journey from Capernaum to Cana to find healing for his son. He found something much bigger. Jesus offers the same to all those willing to begin the journey back to Him.
Prayer: God thank You for caring for and loving us. Help us to believe and make the journey back to You.