John 4:43-54 – The Royal Official’s Son Healed
Miracles Aren't the Foundation of Faith
After spending two days teaching in the Samaritan town of Sychar, Jesus headed into Galilee, where His reception was much more positive than in Judea. One day, as they traveled, they passed the road that led to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. The disciples automatically turned onto it, but Jesus continued straight on toward the town of Cana. They stopped in confusion.
Nathaniel called, “Jesus, aren’t you going to visit your family in Nazareth?”
Jesus stopped and shook His head.
“No, a prophet is not respected or listened to among those with whom he grew up.”
Then, He continued on. Nathaniel looked around at the others in surprise then turned to follow Jesus.
Peter moved up to walk beside Nathaniel and said in a low voice, so Jesus wouldn’t hear. “Well, the rest of Galilee sure has been receptive up till now.”
Nathaniel smiled, “Yeah. It almost makes up for having to leave Judea.”
Peter nodded. “Having the Galileans on our side certainly can’t hurt when He moves to defeat the Romans. But He’s going to have to figure out a way to get the priests and Levites in Jerusalem on His side.
Nathaniel nodded but didn’t reply. His brow furrowed in thought.
That evening they arrived in Cana where Jesus had turned the water into wine. The news of His presence soon reached the city of Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee, some twenty miles away.
Ariel, a royal official of the King, sat at his desk in the government compound at the base of the tallest guard tower in the wall surrounding Capernaum. He held in his hand an order from the commanding officer of the Roman army cohort stationed in Tiberius, the Roman capital of Galilee. It had been hand delivered by his top-ranking centurion, signifying its importance.
The order asked him to report any suspicious activity by Jesus of Nazareth to the commander in Tiberius immediately. The centurion informed him that Jesus was currently in Cana of Galilee.
“So even the Romans are concerned about this new teacher who caused such an uproar in Jerusalem during Passover last year,” Ariel muttered.
Interestingly enough, he had received a similar order the day prior from the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
He needed to think. Pushing his chair back, he left his office and headed for the guard tower, climbing the stairs without stopping until he reached the top. He was glad to notice he was only slightly winded.
The soldier on guard snapped to attention and bowed, “Sir, may I be of assistance.”
Ariel waved his hand, “At ease, soldier. Just pretend I’m not here. I just wanted a place to think that offered perspective.”
The soldier smiled, “You came to the right spot then, sir. You can see for miles in any direction from here. With your permission, I’ll continue my circuit.” He bowed again and continued along the top of the wall southward.
Ariel gazed out over the city of Capernaum in the direction of his home. A knot formed in his stomach and his heart filled with dread. His son, Chaim … his only son, had been sick for months.
He had hired the best physicians his money and position with the King could obtain but to no avail. This morning when he left home, his son lay nearly comatose, the fever making him delirious for the brief moments he was awake.
It was a relief to go to work.
He didn’t know how Shifra was able to stay at their son’s bedside, day after day after day.
Ariel shifted his gaze to the road leading to Cana. The Jewish leaders condemned this new teacher. Smiling wryly, He imagined the priests and leaders running from the temple. He, for one, thought what Jesus had done was a blessing. If only he’d been there to see it happen.
Wait a minute. Ariel frowned. He’d heard another incredible story about Jesus before the fiasco in Jerusalem. Shamma, his cousin, told him a wild story about Jesus converting water to wine. Since Shamma tended to “exaggerate,” Ariel had dismissed it. But he had been hearing fantastic tales about Jesus healing all kinds of diseases by the Jordon River in Judea for more than four months now.
What if all the stories were true?
Ariel looked in the direction of his home again. If Jesus could heal others, if He could turn water into wine, perhaps He could heal my son. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask. They had tried every other avenue.
His son was dying. He knew that.
If it hadn’t been for his incessant moaning, awake or not, Ariel would have assumed he was dead already. Chaim was skin and bones now, a mere shadow of his former self.
Maybe, just maybe this was the answer he had been looking for. Ariel straightened. It was not yet nine in the morning. If he hurried, he could reach Cana by noon. He would make this one last desperate attempt to save his son.
The decision made, Ariel took the steps down to the courtyard two at a time. When he reached the bottom, he called for his horse. He would tell Shifra where he was going and then head for Cana.
In less than an hour, Ariel was riding his horse out of Capernaum’s gate in the direction of Cana. His wife’s tearful admonition to hurry or it would be too late added to the urgency he felt.
He was surprised to see so many people heading toward Cana, most on foot. It didn’t slow him down. Ariel’s clothing, as well as the horse he traveled on, marked him as a nobleman in the King’s service so the people respectfully moved out of the way as he approached. Jesus was the main topic of conversation among those he passed. No wonder Rome was concerned about him.
“If this man heals my son, I don’t care what Rome or our leaders say, I will believe in him,” he muttered.
It was noon when Ariel reached Cana and found a throng of people on a hillside just outside the gate. Leaving his horse in the care of the gatekeeper, Ariel began making his way through the crowd to Jesus. On foot, people didn’t make way for him so readily and it slowed him down more than he liked.
Finally, he reached the very center of the crowd and burst into a small clearing.
A commoner crouched in the center talking with a man with a crooked leg. Ariel scanned the clearing for Jesus. Where was he? He didn’t see anyone dressed like the Messiah or even a Rabbi.
Without warning, the man with the crooked leg stood up and took a few steps. Then he jumped and whirled around the circle. Ariel watched open-mouthed. When the man returned to the commoner who watched him with delight, he exclaimed,
“You did it! It’s healed. Thank You, thank You. Oh, Jesus, thank You,” the man exclaimed.
Ariel stared at the commoner. That’s Jesus? Surely not. His clothes were working class at best and travel-stained. However, there was no denying that the man jumping up and down had been healed.
“If Jesus heals my son, I will believe too,” Ariel muttered under his breath.
A man moved forward to lead the healed man away and another brought a woman carrying a child, its face horribly misshapen by a huge growth on one side. Ariel started to walk closer to see better but felt a hand on his arm. He turned to see a young fisherman smiling politely but obviously restraining him.
“I’m sorry sir, unless you need healing, we request that you remain here. Jesus must have room to work and to teach.”
Ariel started to protest when the woman burst into tears. He looked back to see what had happened. The woman was clinging to Jesus, her child clutched between them. Between sobs, all he could hear was “Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, thank You, thank You.”
It wasn’t until another fisherman came forward and disengaged the woman’s arm from around Jesus’ neck that Ariel could see the child. It was a girl. The woman held a perfectly beautiful little girl, her face perfectly shaped and her eyes bright with curiosity.
Ariel looked again at Jesus, his mind in a whirl. The fisherman who had stopped him interrupted his thoughts, “My name is John. Do you need healing, sir?”
“No… I mean, yes. My son needs healing.”
John looked around, “Where is your son?”
“He was too ill to make the journey here. Can I speak with Jesus?”
John nodded. “Come with me.”
Ariel followed absently, watching the woman leaving with her child. She was showing the girl to everyone she passed, calling, “Look, look what Jesus did. He healed her.”
“If Jesus heals my son,” Ariel thought again. “Then, I will believe.”
John stopped next to Jesus and said, “Rabbi, this man’s son is very sick. He wants to speak with You.”
Jesus turned and smiled at Ariel with such deep love and warmth in his eyes that Ariel felt like Jesus knew him.
Emboldened, Ariel said, “Jesus, please come with me to Capernaum and heal my son. He is dying.”
Jesus didn’t move. He studied Ariel’s face and when he spoke, his voice was full of compassion.
“In spite of what you have seen here today and what you have heard in the past, you will not believe in me unless I perform this miracle for you.”
Ariel’s mouth dropped open. He knew. Jesus knew he required his son’s healing to believe in Him.
Could he believe even if Jesus didn’t heal his son?
Fear gripped Ariel’s heart. What if Jesus refused to heal his son because he was demanding the healing as proof that Jesus was who He said He was, instead of because he truly believed Jesus could heal his son?
No longer conscious of the crowd, Jesus’ unpretentious appearance, or his own royal status, Ariel recognized the divinity of Jesus. Only God could read his heart, read his intent so accurately. He surrendered his doubt, surrendered his pride. Falling on his knees he poured out his soul’s desire to Jesus. “Lord, please come now and heal my son before he dies.”
Jesus put his hand on Ariel’s shoulder and smiled, “You can go home. Your son is well.”
Relief washed over Ariel. “Thank You, Lord.” He whispered, his eyes welling with tears. “Thank You.”
Jesus patted his shoulder and then took Ariel’s hand to help him up. “Shifra is waiting to celebrate with you,” he said, his eyes twinkling.
Ariel nodded blindly. His relief was so great it didn’t even register that Jesus knew his wife’s name until he was halfway down the hillside. He turned back to see Jesus again, but the crowd had closed around him.
Ariel walked slowly to where the gatekeeper kept his horse. He knew that Chaim was well. Without a doubt, he knew it in the depths of his being. He smiled at the gatekeeper.
“Been to see the miracle worker, eh?” the gatekeeper asked.
Ariel nodded, too full of joy to respond. He turned his horse towards Capernaum, but he didn’t mount. He wanted to walk.
smiled so openly and genuinely at the people he met on the road that they didn’t know how to treat him. It caused such a stir among the travelers that he finally decided to walk with his horse about 20 yards off to the side of the road. Not only did this save dealing with the people, but it gave him the time to enjoy nature.
He reveled in the feel of the sunshine. He wanted to sing with the birds. All nature seemed to be rejoicing with him.
Not only was his son healed, but Ariel felt a peace he’d never felt before.
About supper time, Ariel realized he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast that morning and he was only halfway home. Well, it didn’t matter. His son was healed. What was the rush? Feeling like celebrating, he paid for the best meal he could find and a bed for the night. In the morning, he continued on his way.
Ariel had just topped the last hill before Capernaum when he recognized a couple of his own servants hurrying towards him.
“Sir, sir,” they called joyously. “Chaim, your son is alive and healthy. In fact, he looks like he’s never been sick at all. It’s a miracle!”
Ariel laughed and looked up, “Praise God, praise God,” he cried fervently. The servants joined in.
Then Ariel asked, “About what time was it when Chaim started to improve?’
“It was one in the afternoon, sir,” one of the servants responded.
The other nodded vigorously, “Yes sir, it was a miracle. I was there. The Mistress and I were bathing him, trying to get his fever down and he was ranting deliriously when suddenly, the fever just left him. Just disappeared, sir. And right before our eyes, his body filled out as if he’d never been sick. He fell into the most peaceful sleep we’d ever seen, my lord.”
Ariel thought back. One in the afternoon yesterday. That had to be the exact moment that Jesus told him his son was well.
No doubt about it, Jesus was the Messiah.
When Ariel returned and told his wife and son what had happened when he met Jesus, they all became staunch believers and supporters of Jesus.
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