When my wife and I were dating and she was quickly falling madly in love with me (wink), she received a very brief email that read something like, “Can you please send me your address so I can mail you your $1,000 gift card to Pei Wei (Pei Wei is a pretty good fast casual restaurant). Naturally, we were skeptical. But after researching who the email was from and my wife remembered entering an online contest to win a $1,000 gift card to Pei Wei, we realized we just won more credit than we knew what to do with.
On our second trip to Pei Wei, after paying for the meal, our waiter informed us that the balance on our gift card was $0. You can imagine our shock. After some investigating, we informed corporate that someone drained our card. Without blinking they quickly sent us another$1,000 gift card. But this time I was not going to let someone steal it! I quickly went to the restaurant and had them break it into ten $100 gift cards.
So, we go out for our first meal with our new gift cards and our waiter informs us that the balance on the gift card we just used to pay with was $900+. How can that be? Each of these cards should have $100 on it. Did they put $1,000 on each?! I’m still not sure but at one point in my life I may have been walking around with $10,000 to Pei Wei. In other words, I had way more in my hands than I would have ever imagined or dreamed. And an official in John 4:43-54 can relate.
At this point in the Gospel of John Jesus has a reputation as a wonder worker and has returned toCana, where he turned a lot of water into a lot of quality wine.North of Cana inCapernaum there was an official whose son was deathly-sick and he hears that Jesus is about 17+ miles south of him in Cana, so he makes the hike to find Jesus. This official probably has above-average power, control, and influence in life. But death is knocking at his son’s door and he realizes he has no power to stop it. The story of his boy’s life is coming to a close much sooner than he ever imagined and perhaps nothing could be more important than to find a way to save his baby boy. Perhaps the greatest thing he could receive from Jesus, he thinks, is the healing of his son.
When he finds Jesus and requests that Jesus return with him to heal his boy, Jesus’ response is jolting: So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” (v. 48). This seems strange. The official just left his son’s death bed not knowing if he will ever speak to him again in order to find Jesus because he already believes in Jesus, right? The official responds with desperate repetition: “Sir, come down before my child dies.” What could be bigger or better than to receive from Jesus than the healing of his son?
So, what does Jesus mean when he says he will not believe unless he sees wonders? Doesn’t he already believe? I think we start to see what’s going on in v. 50 when Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. The plan was for Jesus to come down to Capernaum but suddenly he takes Jesus at his word that his son lives. All the sudden the official realized he had more in Jesus than he thought. Jesus is bigger, better, and more powerful than he realized. Jesus could heal his son on the spot from miles away. The official’s faith grows and embraces more of Jesus upon hearing the word of Jesus.
But the story gets more interesting. As the official is returning home, he runs into his servants who tell him his son lives! The official asks when his son was healed and realizes “…that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” At this confirmation of what he already believed we are told, “And he himself believed, and all his household.
Again and again and again in this story we are told and shown that the official believed, then he believed again, and then he believed again. What’s going on? John, the author of the Gospel of John, is showing that our faith is not meant to move away from Jesus but deeper into Jesus, embracing wider, higher, and deeper realities of who Jesus is, what He can do, and what He has done. Perhaps the official thought Jesus’ power was limited at a distance. He needed to see more of who Jesus is and believe Him. The Christian life is about discovering more and more of what we already have in Jesus.
What all do we have in Jesus that we are meant to discover and rediscover? Well, there is another Father & Son relationship in the Gospel of John, the relationship of Jesus, God the Son, and God the Father. And the Father has a similar word about His Son, that He is going to die. But rather than avoiding this death, Jesus embraces this plan to lay His life down for us, for the official, for the official’s son, for you. It is only because the Son of God died that we can rest in the reality that Jesus said of himself: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”