After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.
Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.
Are you a “I need to see it to believe it” type of person? There are certainly times where I am, which makes me wonder about and even long for the chance to have seen Jesus perform a miracle. To marvel at the site of a dead man returning to life, being dumbfounded as Jesus walked on water or to be astonished as a fig tree withered before my eyes. The Gospel writers have given account but to have been there…
Such a desire, however, makes me wonder if I would have been one of the Galileans to whom Jesus chastises in John 4 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders…you will never believe.” Maybe I’m still a bit of a Thomas, needing to put my hand into Christ’s wound in order to believe. According to John’s account of the healing of the official’s son, it sounds like I am not alone.
The Galileans in Cana were excited to see Jesus return home, even though the last time He was in the neighborhood they had threatened to throw Him down the hill after he claimed to be the Messiah. Jesus is returning to the scene of His first miracle, where He demonstrated that He is was King of All, nature included, by turning water into wine. The difference was that by this time He had developed quite the reputation, a following of people who were eager to be astonished, to see the signs and wonders they had been hearing about. Side note: I find it a bit ironic that this story follows the account of the woman at the well. No miracle was performed there but John notes Jesus’ success in verse 41 “And because of His words, many more became believers.” Not because of any sign or wonder but simply because of what they heard.
And now the story’s supporting character appears, the royal official. A man who worked for Herod Antipas, the wicked ruler who married his brother’s wife and had John the Baptist beheaded. A man who was most likely confident in his own ability to solve problems and get results. But he enters the story as a father, helpless and desperate, on a last ditch effort to save his son. He begs Jesus to come to his house and heal his son.
“Unless you see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” I don’t think these words were restricted to the official. Jesus knew his audience, those wearing the t-shirts with the slogan “Wonder Worshipper” imprinted on the front. The official left, however, as a God worshipper. He took Jesus at His word, left, and met his servants on his way home to find out that his son was healed at the exact time Jesus said to him “You may go, your son will live.”
He was looking for a sign, and found a Savior. Seeing is believing but when we reverse this idiom we see God in ways unimagined. Believing is seeing…