The Gospel of John – Lesson 10 – John 4:43-54

43 After two days, Jesus left for Galilee. 44 Now Jesus himself had testified that a prophet is not honored in his own country. 45 When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all the things he did at the Festival in Jerusalem, because they also had gone to the Festival. 46 Jesus came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. In Capernaum, there was a certain royal official whose son was sick. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea into Galilee, he went to him and begged him to come down and heal his son, because his son was about to die. 48 Jesus told him, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you certainly will not believe.” 49 The royal official said to him, “Lord, come down before my little boy dies.” 50 “Go,” Jesus told him, “your son is going to live.” The man believed this word that Jesus spoke to him and left. 51 Already as he was going down, his servants met him with the news that his boy was going to live. 52 So he asked them what time his son got better. They told him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 Then the father realized that was the exact time when Jesus had told him, “Your son is going to live.” And he himself and his whole household believed. 54 This was the second miraculous sign Jesus did after he came from Judea into Galilee.

Our reading today features the account of a certain royal official from Capernaum. We don’t know what this man’s position was, but he apparently had access to the best medical care that money could provide at the time. But his earthly status didn’t do him any good. His young son was gravely ill. If he didn’t get the right help soon he was going to die. We can assume the official from Capernaum spared no effort to try to find a cure for his son’s condition. Nothing had worked. The situation looked hopeless.

But then the official heard that Jesus was in the area. Obviously, Jesus’ reputation was well known to the man. Perhaps he heard how Jesus had changed water into wine on an earlier visit to Cana in Galilee. Perhaps he’d heard of other miracles Jesus died throughout Judea. Whatever the case was, the desperate man suddenly had hope. He pleaded with Jesus to make the trip from Cana to Capernaum to heal his son.

Does Jesus’ answer strike you as being rather unfeeling? Jesus said “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you certainly will not believe.” Jesus was right in what he said. Many people believed in him as long as he was doing powerful miracles. But how quickly didn’t many people turn their backs on Jesus when he tried to teach them he was their Savior from sin and not just a traveling miracle worker. That was important. But a little boy’s life was on the line. Couldn’t this discussion have waited for another time after the boy’s life was no longer in danger But Jesus’ concerns went far deeper than the physical health of a little boy. He was concerned with the spiritual health of the royal official and everyone in his household (including the sick little boy). Jesus’ harsh rebuke of the man was also a loving invitation to believe in Jesus as the true Son of God and the Savior of the world.

The royal official didn’t give up. He emphasized his need all the more. “Lord, come down before my little boy dies.” But Jesus also didn’t stop working toward his goal. He wasn’t going to give the royal official everything he thought he needed. Jesus wasn’t going to Capernaum with him. He wasn’t going to give him a visible miracle he could see and hold onto at that moment. Jesus’ reply was “Go, your son is going to live.”

Jesus knew exactly what the situation required. The man believed that Jesus could do exactly what he promised. On the way home he found out his trust was well-placed. His servants met the official on the road and gave him the good news that his son was well again. On further inquiry, he found out his son was healed at the exact time Jesus made the promise that the boy would live. The man shared this good news with his whole household. The result was all of them put their trust in Jesus. The Son of God had done more than physically heal a young boy whose life was in danger. He gave spiritually healing to an entire household who were lost in their sins.

This example reminds us how Jesus often works in our lives. He doesn’t always give us what we ask for in exactly the way we want it. Jesus answers our prayers in the way he knows is best. Always his goal is that we will believe that he is the Son of God and our only way to eternal life.

Discussion Questions

1 – In desperation, a royal official turned to Jesus to heal his young son who was near death. Jesus seemed to display a heartless response in verse 48. How was Jesus really showing love in the way he responded?
Jesus’ goal was that the man and his whole household would believe in him as their only Savior from sin. Simply doing a powerful miracle wouldn’t create such saving faith in itself. Jesus responded in a way that would not only heal the boy, but would also lead the whole household to saving faith.

2 – How did the royal official display his faith in Jesus?
Jesus didn’t go with him to Capernaum. Instead Jesus told he man to go home, his son would live. The man believed that Jesus had the power to heal his son, even if he didn’t go to see him. He took Jesus at his word and went on his way.

3 – How does Jesus sometimes deal with us in the same way he dealt with the royal official?
Our Lord doesn’t always answer our prayers in exactly the way we want them answered. But he always answers them in the way that is best. Sometimes the answer he gives will be completely different than what we asked for. Our Lord simply calls on us to believe he is always working for our good in everything he does.

4 – What was the result of Jesus’ gracious dealings with the royal official from Capernaum?
The young boy was fully restored to health. More importantly the father and his entire household put their full trust in Jesus.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison.
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