Jesus Had To Be There
By Jason Scherzer
The Word: John 4:46-50
46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
5 Bow Your heavens, O Lord, and come down; Touch the mountains, that they may smoke.
6 Flash forth lightning and scatter them; Send out Your arrows and confuse them.
7 Stretch forth Your hand from on high; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters.
Exegesis / Background
In John chapter 4, after His ministry to the Samaritans, Jesus proceeds to Cana in Galilee, the same place where He had performed His first public miracle of water into wine. Jesus was receiving much honor in Judea. We might say that He was well loved by the crowds of people in Judea. However, this bringing Him into danger with the Pharisees, as He was not going unnoticed at all.
While Jesus is in Cana in Galilee, there is in Capernaum, the young son of a government official who lay severely ill. The father travels to Jesus and asks Him to go to Capernaum to heal his son. “Come down,” the government official pleads with Jesus.
Jesus states that people will not believe in Him “unless they see signs and wonders.” There is a lack of depth to the faith of people that Jesus has been encountering in this region. He desired for them to believe based upon who He was, not merely for what He was doing for them.
The official (father of the severely ill child) is persistent with Jesus, asking Him to “come down” before the child dies. We have in Matthew’s gospel a similar account of an official visiting Jesus, however the official has a “servant” who is severely ill, and the official is asking Jesus to heal the servant. The account of Matthew seems almost certain to be a different occasion from that in John 4, because the official in Matthew has a deep understanding of authority which he expresses to Jesus. He reasons that Jesus could simply speak the word, and the servant would instantly be healed. Jesus quite obviously rewards the faith of the official. In John, the official is not showing quite so much faith, as he presumes that Jesus must be physically present with the child to secure a healing. Nonetheless, Jesus is full of love and does heal the child, without being present.
A servant of the official travelling from Capernaum toward Cana meets the official perhaps at a halfway point. He informs the official of the exact hour in which the child dramatically recovered. We should be quite sure that the illness had not been a mild fever at all; it was a life-threatening illness which was known by some people of that day to be extremely serious. It makes sense that the servant would set out for the day’s journey toward Cana immediately upon the child’s healing, as a bare minimum duty to the official whose child had nearly died.
In Psalm 144 we have the words of David concerning his asking God for help in battle. David fought many battles, and here he asks God to rend the heavens or part the heavens and “come down” to defeat David’s enemies. In desperate times with a seemingly hopeless battle, David would have felt completely abandoned by God, as if left to die.
We know that God did answer David, time and time again. But sometimes God will “come down”, and at other times His answer will be for us to wait patiently.
Jesus had already “come down” from heaven’s throne, and He had no need to come down any further in order to heal the official’s son; He had already shown compassion by granting the request to heal the child, regardless of the method that Jesus chose.
What are you expecting God to do, that He might do differently (yet better) than your expectation?
LORD, You have certainly come down in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. You have met our needs, forgiven our sins, and healed our diseases. You have proven consistently that You are NOT limited by time, space, or any other constraint; nothing is too hard for You. Strengthen me today with Your mighty power, and help me to do Your will, in Jesus name.