47. Response

Short Meditations in John 4:  47. Response

Jn 4:49  The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus looks for responses in us. How obvious and simple that is and yet I observe so often a form of Christianity that goes on, day in, day out, with no change. There is apparently not inter-change between Jesus and his disciple and he or she changes little, if at all.

This official has heard that Jesus is in Cana so travels from Capernaum, his home town, and seeks out Jesus and pleads with him to come and heal his child. Now contrary to some of Jesus’ responses – which are simply to reach out in some way and bring the requested healing – on this occasion Jesus seems to rebuff either this man or all the Jews with him with this challenge about belief. Will you only believe in me if you see me do a miracle, is basically what he has said.

Now when Jesus says or does things, it is always for a reason, a good reason, a reason that is good, that reveals Jesus’ goodness. The only trouble is that so often we don’t bother to think about it and look for that good reason.  So why does Jesus put this provocative statement before these people?

I suggest to you that it is to provoke in them a response and our responses are all-important, for they reveal something of our heart. When a shallow or self-centred person hears this sort of challenge, they will go off grumbling about the sort of person Jesus obviously is. They don’t stop to think about why he is saying it – to reveal me.

Do you remember the woman up in Tyre who went to seek out Jesus and who, we read, “begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.” (Mk 7:26) Another desperate parent and again Jesus pushes past the emotion and says to her, “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” (Mk 7:27) but she would not be deterred and responds, “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (v.28) and for that he heals her daughter.

It seems we have a very similar thing here. A distraught parent who comes in anguish to plead of Jesus for healing of the child, and gets instead a repost. Jesus wants to take us beyond pure emotion; he wants to take us to the place of belief in him and for that reason he may bring a challenge which, at first sight, seems uncaring. It is not. It makes the seeker clarify where they are at.

The royal official will not be put off. In a sense he says, “I don’t care about this miracle business. All I know is that my child is dying and that you can heal him – yes you can! And that is all that matters.” Jesus has got his response. There is a faith here that will not be put off by concerns of self – I don’t like what you’ve said but you can heal!

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