Seeing Is Believing Series
Contributed by Guy Caley on Feb 2, 2003 (message contributor)
Summary: 4th in the series "Conversations with Jesus." The royal official’s faith grows as a resuslt of his time with Jesus.
If I told you there’s a city called Paris and it has this thing called the Eiffel Tower would you believe me? Why? Because you believe the testimony of those who have been there, 5.5 million of whom have posted pictures of themselves in front of the thing on their personal web sites.
Now, what if someone told you there was a place in Wurzburg that’s identical to an Outback Steakhouse? It would depend who told you and how much you trust their authority. Whether or not you made the trip would depend not only on how much you believed but also upon how much you wanted a "Bloomin’ Onion."
C.S. Lewis wrote "I have to believe that Jesus was (and is) God. And it seems plain as a matter of history that He taught His followers that the new life was communicated in this way. In other words, I believe it on His authority. Ninety-nine percent of the things you believe are believed on authority... The ordinary person believes in the solar system, atoms, and the circulation of the blood on authority--because the scientists say so. Every historical statement is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada. But we believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them." (C.S. Lewis "A Grief Observed")
In our conversation with Jesus today we find a man who comes to Jesus because of the information he has heard about Him. He comes not altogether knowing what to believe but simply knowing that He has a need that no one else can fill. In this story we are able to watch the faith of this man grow as a result of his conversation with Jesus... It is a faith which begins as a...
vv. 46-48 46Once 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. 47When 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. 48"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."
So far all the man knows is that people have said Jesus has worked miracles. He doesn’t know for certain what he believes but he’s reaching out to Jesus, because his need is great.
ILLUSTRATION: There’s an old story about a traveler in the early days of the west. When he came to a large river, he discovered there was no bridge. Fortunately it was winter and the great river was sheeted over with ice. But the traveler was afraid to trust himself to it, not knowing how thick it was. Finally with infinite caution, he crept on his hands and knees and managed to get halfway over. And then he heard--yes he heard singing from behind. Cautiously he turned, and there, out of the dusk, came another traveler, driving a four-horse load of coal over the ice, singing as he went!
This is a picture of the royal official in this passage--he’s come to the solid rock, but he’s not ready to rest his weight upon it. It’s clear that Jesus understands that this is not someone who’s coming to Him to put his trust in him as Messiah and Savior--but that’s OK, Jesus takes him where he’s at in his faith.
This is a picture of us too, we come to Jesus, trembling, hurting, not knowing, not understanding, but hoping. Jesus takes us where we’re at. But, thank God He doesn’t leave us where we’re at. He takes us a step further to...
vv. 49-50 The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live." The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
Notice that the man doesn’t seem to have patience for Jesus’ enigmatic reply about needing signs to believe. It’s as if the Lord has invited him into a dialogue about eternal things like those he had with Nicodemas and the woman at the well, but the man is to focused upon his immediate problem. Jesus, doesn’t seem to be rattled by this though. Jesus promises to give the man what he asks for and the text says that the official took Him at His word and departed.
Is he trusting in Jesus at this point? Yes but not fully. He’s trusting him for one thing--the healing of the child, We know he’s not got a full tank of faith at this time because a couple verses later the text clearly says he began to "believe" after the healing is confirmed. But he is trusting in Jesus for this one thing.