Jesus Heals an Official's Son
(Matthew 8.5-13; Luke 7.1-10)
43-44 Jesus had said, “Prophets are honored everywhere, except in their own country.” Then two days later he left 45 and went to Galilee. The people there welcomed him, because they had gone to the festival in Jerusalem and had seen everything he had done.
46 While Jesus was in Galilee, he returned to the village of Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was an official in Capernaum whose son was sick. 47And when the man heard that Jesus had come from Judea, he went and begged him to keep his son from dying.
48Jesus told the official, “You won't have faith unless you see miracles and wonders!”
49The man replied, “Lord, please come before my son dies!”
50Jesus then said, “Your son will live. Go on home to him.” The man believed Jesus and started back home.
51Some of the official's servants met him along the road and told him, “Your son is better!” 52He asked them when the boy got better, and they answered, “The fever left him yesterday at one o'clock.”
53The boy's father realized that at one o'clock the day before, Jesus had told him, “Your son will live!” So the man and everyone in his family put their faith in Jesus.
54This was the second miracle that Jesus worked after he left Judea and went to Galilee.
Jesus had just left Samaria where many had put their faith in him. On his way to Cana, he met an unnamed man. The text says the man was an “official,” a member of King Herod’s court. Herod was considered by most Jews to be a poser “King of Israel” installed by the pagan Romans. This man came and asked Jesus to heal his dying son. But Jesus rebuffed him, suggesting that he (like the rest of those who had seen Jesus work miracles in Jerusalem) really only wanted to see “miracles and wonders.” Undeterred, the official pleaded, “Lord, please come before my son dies!” In response to his faith, Jesus relented.
What is striking about this interchange is not that Jesus does a healing miracle. Jesus himself downplays the importance of miracles in the passage. What is striking is that once again, Jesus, who is regularly rejected by his own people, is embraced by an outsider. In John 4 it was the theologically suspect Samaritan woman whose faith led to the salvation of the whole Samaritan village. In this passage it is the politically suspect officer of King Herod’s court, whose faith leads to the salvation of his whole household. In this passage, John is displaying the truth of Jesus’ proverb. It is the outsiders who respond in true faith and not the insiders one would expect. God is at work in those you might least expect God to be working!
How do you see God at work in those whom you believe to be theologically or politically suspect?
Gracious God, open my eyes to see how you are working even in those with whom I have serious theological and political differences. Help me to recognize that you often work in ways that I might least expect it. Amen.