In John 4, a Roman official – whose son is seriously ill – comes to Jesus to see what the Lord can do. In the passage, we build up to a miraculous healing that Jesus does. In this sign, Jesus will point back to the Prophet Elijah in the Old Testament.
A divine intervention
The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
The man is undeterred by the rebuke that Jesus has given.He’s not arguing with the Lord. He’s simply pleading with Jesus to intervene.
Keep in mind, that this man is an official of the Roman government. He’s prestigious. We see the humility that he shows to Christ.
“Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”
That’s a very interesting direction that Jesus has given to the man. He’s not saying “Ok, let’s go.”Instead, he tells the man to go home and that his son will live.
And the official listens.
Second part of verse 50:
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.
A picture of faith
He trusts in the promise of Christ. He has faith in the word that the Lord Jesus has told him.
We also don’t always get grand signs of what is to come. It is a matter of trusting the Lord is faithful to all that he has promised. That’s exactly what the Roman official does here. We need to take the Lord at his word.
As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering.
John’s recording of the event is not hugely dramatic. What Jesus has said would happen happened.
Verse 52 into 53:
So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.”
We see the power in the promise and word of Christ. As he was telling the father this, 20 miles away, his son was being healed.
Continuing in verse 53:
And he himself believed, and all his household.
The man believed.
Faith cannot be entirely rooted on the miraculous. But that’s not to say that God never uses a monumental moment to bring a person to himself. For this man, trusting in what Jesus had told him and then seeing the fulfillment of that promise led him to believe in Jesus.
Not only for the man, but him and his whole household believed. It was a transformative event in all of their lives to see what Jesus had done.
This story is reminiscent of another healing which occurred in the Old Testament, during the ministry of Elijah.
Elijah in 1 Kings 17
In 1 Kings 17, there’s another event when a child is very sick. The prophet Elijah takes the boy and pleads with the Lord to heal him.
Beginning in verse 21 into 22:
O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah.
In verse 23, after the boy had been revived, Elijah says to the mother “your son lives.”
A long-distance miracle
In our passage in John, when the Roman officer comes to Jesus, Jesus says to him “your son will live.” Elijah has to be in physical contact with the child when he is healed. Jesus heals at a distance.
Elijah asks God to heal the boy, Jesus doesn’t. In this sign, among other things, we see that Jesus is greater than Elijah and we again see that he provides something greater than the Old Testament.
We see the perfect knowledge of Jesus. He knew that the son would live.
We also see the sovereignty of Jesus. He could speak authoritatively to the man that his son would live.
The second sign of Jesus
The passage concludes by saying: 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
Jesus had done other miracles, but this was the second one he had done in Judea. In the first sign, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast. In that event, John said that Jesus had revealed his glory through that sign.
In this sign, Jesus had healed a sick child near death many miles away. We see that the signs are very different from each other. The first sign is at a public event, the second sign is within a home.
The first sign is at a time of great joy, at a wedding feast. The second is in a very sad time, when someone is ill to the point of death.
In that too, his power and glory are revealed. In that event, it was so powerful in the lives of the people who witnessed it that they believed in Jesus.
In the second sign, Jesus heals a father’s son. But in that, we should be reminded of the gospel because the ultimate sign that Jesus did which points to his glory and power was when he had the Son was not saved.
Jesus was able to save this man’s son because Jesus was the Son who was not saved.
Looking for Jesus
There are lots of reasons why people are drawn to religion, drawn to Christianity, drawn to Jesus. Some people think that it’ll help them through a tough time.
Some people are lonely or insecure and need to feel a sense of belonging. That’s not inherently wrong, by the way. But that isn’t faith. Some people are miserable, and they believe that religion might help them become happier. Others are battling an addiction and they think it’ll help them find victory. Some people are unhappy with who they’ve become, and want better examples.
Now, certainly any of those areas can be a person’s entry point to Christianity. And God can work through those circumstances to bring a person to himself.
But genuine faith needs to move past that. It can’t just be about having a certain feeling or about having a certain area of life now under control.
Faith needs to be rooted in the character of the Lord. Sinful people recognizing their need for redemption and trusting in Jesus and the salvation he promises.
If faith over the long term does not mature into a love for Christ, a recognition of sin, a love for the things of God, then what is it that you’re believing?
Because new problems will arise. New difficulties will arise. You’re still you, which is to say you’re still sinful. Your life will still face difficulties and hardships. We still live in a fallen and sinful world where there is betrayal, and pain, and suffering, and death.
“Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
If faith is based on what we see, based on circumstances, that is flimsy. Our faith needs to be anchored in the good and sovereign Lord of creation.
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