Explore the profound encounter of a desperate father seeking his son's healing as Jesus challenges the need for signs and invites us to trust in His divine authority and compassion.
John 4:46-54 — The Need for Signs — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on John 4:46-54. This is a relatively long passage but I couldn’t break it up because it tells a story. Listen.
Once more [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. 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.
In this touching encounter, we witness a remarkable display of faith and the compassion of Jesus. A royal official, desperate for his son's healing, comes to Jesus seeking help. His son was gravely ill, and the official was worried and fearful. He had likely exhausted all other options and knew Jesus was his last hope.
The official implores Jesus to come and heal his son, but instead of agreeing, Jesus says, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe." Believe in what? Believe in Jesus! This might seem like a harsh response to a man who has a son close to death. Besides, wasn't the man's faith evident when he came to Jesus seeking healing for his son? Let us understand this because it contains profound wisdom.
Jesus understands the human tendency to seek miraculous signs as a precondition for believing in him. How often have we sought them, ourselves, saying: Jesus give me a sign that you truly exist? I have done so myself! However, while miracles can be powerful and impactful, true faith transcends the need for extraordinary signs. Jesus wants us to move beyond seeking signs to faith that does not need signs.
Shortly after his resurrection, the apostles who had seen Jesus told Thomas, who hadn't, that their Lord had risen. Thomas said he would not believe it until he saw Jesus himself. When Jesus appeared before Thomas, he told the doubting apostle: "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Jesus appreciates faith; however, he understands doubt. Let us return to our story. Jesus' response does not daunt the official. He again begs Jesus to come down before his son dies. Jesus replies, "You may go; your son will live."
His response holds both a challenge and an affirmation. The official had come to Jesus seeking his physical presence, believing that Jesus needed to be physically present for his son's healing. But Jesus wanted him to understand that his authority extended beyond physical proximity. The power of his word and his divine presence could transcend distance and time.
John says the man took Jesus at his word and departed, and while he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news his boy had recovered.
We find so many promises that Jesus has made in the gospels. Do we believe his words, or are we still looking for signs that he is the Messiah who has the power to keep his promises? Something to think about today as we reflect upon this story.
John says it is the SECOND sign Jesus performed. Why is John numbering the signs? Throughout John's Gospel, the signs continue to increase in significance, culminating in Jesus' ultimate sign, his resurrection from the dead. So, the numbering of the signs in John's Gospel serves as a literary device to underscore the progressive revelation of Jesus' identity and mission, inviting us to delve deeper into the spiritual significance of each miraculous event.
God bless you.