Thursday, August 14, 2014

Royal Official: Second Miracle in Cana

Healing the royal official's son 
by Joseph-Marie Vien, 1752 (Wiki)
the text: John 4:43-54
When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country). When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.

Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.


the ideas
two days - two days with the Samaritans

Prophet without honor - Matthew 13, Mark 6

Galilean welcome - they welcome him, but because he did miracles at the festival.

Remember - Cana, the wine place.

Capernaum to Galilee - 20 miles.

Unless "you"/y'all - The "you" here is plural. It is directed to the official and the Galileans. 

Works - Jesus does not like to do miracles, or, at least, he distrusts the human nature that requires miracles for faith. See chapter 2:23-25.

...my little boy - how could anyone's heart keep from breaking at such a request? Moreover, this is Jesus' first run-in with death in this gospel. How Jesus matches up with the ultimate enemy of humans and God tells us quite a bit about who Jesus is.

Go; your son will live(s) - This is the present tense. Jesus, who is the Word that brings Life to all people, brings that life to this young boy now, here, in the present. To get that point across, there is a caravan of servants who meet the official and confirm the time he was healed.

The man believed/trusted/placed confidence in the Word - two times we are told he believed. And he did not believe after seeing a sign; he believed after Jesus spoke. This belief led to salvation coming to his whole household (just like the city of Samaritans all coming to faith).

the stuff
There is a pattern going on here. The last time we were in Cana, Jesus' mother wanted Jesus to make wine and he refused her, but did it anyway. Here, the official wants his son to be healed, and Jesus seemingly refuses. But the man's persistence pays off, his son is healed, and his family is brought into Jesus' Kingdom.

As is consistent with other Gospels, Jesus asks us to be persistent in prayer. This isn't a sign that God doesn't care. No, persistence demonstrates deep faith. We have all had those times where we have prayed and nothing happens. I could out atheist any atheist on this point alone. But it is the movement of God to deep cries of faith that reward the type of life Jesus desires for us as we seek entry into eternity.

I do not pretend to understand the mystery of prayer. But I know that Jesus calls the faithful to be in communication with their Father. How is your prayer life? Sporadic? Do you only pray when you need something? Or is it a cultivated habit of a disciplined life that is the source of power and joy in your life? Spend some time in meditative prayer today. Bring your concerns to Jesus. Speak from the heart. Listen for a response. Let it be a time that increases your faith.

Daily Office Readings, Year 2 - Week of the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 14) - August 15, 2014

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