Summary: An analysis of John 4:46-53. Looking at the progression of faith in the royal official and showing such can be manifested in us today
From Agonizing Fear to Absolute Faith
Were this title a pharmaceutical advertisement for a pill just approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the market could expect huge profits in a short time. As you know, such is not the case so far as the pharmaceutical industries having the power to take one out of deep fear into deep faith. Faith does not have its origins in chemistry but in the word of God (Romans 10:17). The mind which can take the promises of God at their face value and have a steadfast faith in the author of those promises can be transformed from agonizing fear to absolute faith. I set now the scriptures before you from the American Standard Bible.
46 He came therefore again unto Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain [j]nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. 48 Jesus therefore said unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will in no wise believe. 49 The [k]nobleman saith unto him, [l]Sir, come down ere my child die. 50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. The man believed the word that Jesus spake unto him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his [m]servants met him, saying, that his son lived. 52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to amend. They said therefore unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
I would like to consider three points in this lesson. First, there must be a determination to find the one who has the answer. Secondly, there must be a dependence on the answer provided by the person sought. Thirdly, doubtless faith is established when that dependence is complete.
The answer to the royal official’s dilemma was not in the town of Capernaum. There was nothing there that could deliver his son from the fever he had. There was nothing his rank could bring to bear on the problem in the town. There was nothing his money could buy to relieve the problem. The son was near death in a place that could offer no hope. I pause here to remind us of the number of occasions in which we have been similarly situated. Our situations may not have been parallel to that of the royal official but we have known times when the fist of desperation beat mightily on our own doors. The noise was such that it could provoke a headache that would not go away. Can you remember such times? Before us was a problem with such fear causing consequences that we despaired of life. Our physical resources are too insufficient to face the problem and our spiritual stamina is too weak to endure through the crisis. Now comes the time to be resolute in our decision to find a solution. We become open to any reasonable idea that can provide the courage we need to pursue the solution.
The father of the sick lad had learned that Jesus had returned to Cana of Galilee (John 4:47), and decided to make the journey of 24 miles there. Undoubtedly, the abilities of Jesus were known to this official, otherwise his journey to seek Him out would be to no avail. He left his son in the care of his servants. He sought Jesus until he found Him in Cana. The first phase of his mission was complete.
Having found Jesus, he stated his concern. Sir, come down ere my child die. The man’s request brings to light several things about him. It shows that he believes that Jesus has the power to heal his son but it also shows a display of weak faith. One may say that these things which I say seem contradictory. Allow me to explain. The father is saying, “I want you to come with me to where my son is sick and heal him. If you do not come with me, he will die.” I have taken the liberty of trying to modernize the beseechment of the father without changing the meaning. Though the man believed in the powers of Jesus, that belief was too weak to embrace the fact that the healing could be done from Cana. The faith the father manifested was a “seeing to believe” faith. The response of Jesus to the man was, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will in no wise believe.” You will notice the order of the verbs in the Lord’s words: first, there is seeing then believing. This reproof, in my humble estimation, was not to dishearten the father or to suggest to him that his request would not be carried out but to convey the fact that mature faith always believes to see.