Monday, March 31, 2014

Your Son Will Live

Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind.  Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight.  Isaiah 65:17-18

Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”  The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”  Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.”  The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.  John 4:48-50

I will praise you, LORD, for you have rescued me.  You did not let my mundane personal problems consume me.  When I cried out help, you sent your Son to heal me. Now, in the spirit of thanksgiving after the crisis, let me continue to act on this faith for the rest of my days. (Based upon Psalm 30:2-4)

Jesus steps up his game in this second miracle of Galilee.  On his first visit, he attended a now infamous wedding with his mother (although he certainly overshadowed the bride and groom).  There, when the host ran out of wine, the water – in the presence of its Creator’s son – turned into the finest wine.   Not only do miraculous signs unite this scene with today’s miraculous cure of the Roman official’s son, it also holds important lessons that reveal some lessons about “son-ship.”

First, at the early stage of his public ministry, Jesus took the relatively small step of creating a physical sign that did not change the course of anyone’s life or death.  The host might have been embarrassed running out of wine at his daughter’s wedding.  The worst that might have occurred is that the crowd would have disbursed when they party ended.  No one except the wine steward and the workers had to know what was happening.  Mary knew that she could intervene and her son could introduce a solution.  The only way to accomplish that was through listening and acting and believing.  “Do what he tells you.”

In our second miracle, we also see a sign performed based upon listening and believing in Jesus.  This time, the sign was the difference between the sickness and health of the royal official’s son.  It was truly a case of life-or-death.  This new sign serves to continue to bring more people into the circle of believers. 

However, at first Jesus seems to send the royal official home with nothing to show for his outreach.  The people demand a visible sign but the Lord is not there to perform like some carnival sideshow.  When he heard Jesus was back in Cana, the official traveled for a full day or more on primitive trails to trek from the north end of the Sea of Galilee to Cana in central Palestine.  After rushing (most likely on foot) about 20 miles from Capernaum to Cana, the official expected Jesus to come with him to cure the son in person.  What a shocking and disappointing revelation it must have been for this official when he realized that Jesus had no intention to return with the official to Capernaum.

However, when he the official gets back home (another long day’s journey), he finds that his son was healed through the mystery of faith even though there was not any outward physical sign or action.  There was no pasting his body with mud, no ritual washing away of leprosy sores, or any other physical connection. Just by the mere fact that the official went all this way to reach Jesus, listened and obeyed when he was dismissed, that act of faith was enough.   

Just as the sign functions on a higher level, so too do the words Jesus speaks.  Just as the words Jesus spoke may have unsettled the official, the unsettling statement (to me) is when Jesus remarks, “Your son will live.”  This is not only a statement of fact about the current situation.  It stands in stark contrast to two realities that will be revealed.  First, Jesus of Nazareth, the human son of Mary, will not live much longer.  In a short time, he will hang from a cross with nails in his hands and feet until he bleeds to death in agony.  Second, it also reveals that once Jesus endures such death, he too will live.  Addressing the father through the Father, we also learn, “Your Son will live.”

Are we sign-seekers or true believers?  Are we part of the maddening crowd or are we individuals who seek a real relationship with the Lord? 

The point is that the crisis was just a starting point to grow into a mature relationship in faith.  Yes…the son was cured.  However, the real conclusion is that the official and his whole household came to believe and enter into a mature faith experience. When the pressure is on, we might find it easy to turn to the Lord.  However, when the pressure is off, how do we react?  

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