Series on John (Jn. 4 :43-54)

A Meeting with a Royal Officer


If you have a Bible, I invite you to open it to Jean ch 4 :46. The section that we will study today will start here and continue until verse 53.

The title of my lesson is: A meeting with a Royal Officer

Let’s read together this passage of scripture:

Is it not a very beautiful passage? Today there are two lessons that I would like to take from this.

Looking closer into this story we have here the account of a desperate man. However, to an undiscerning eye, it seemed that this man was extremely blessed. Why?

But in this case, his money and all of his relations were of little value. The text in verse 47 tells us that his son was close to dying. He had a fortune and was powerful, but there was nothing he could do to prevent his son’s imminent death.

I would like to reflect for a moment on the condition of this man’s son, because it is key to understanding the reaction of the officer in this story.

The child did not have just a mild sickness; verse 47 says he was gravely ill and on the verge of dying. In other terms, he was perishing before his father’s eyes. You see a high temperature had reduced his little boy of boundless energy to a limp rag doll. Slowly the son was melting away with fever in his sheets.

Many of us are parents today, aren’t we? Tell me moms and dads, what is your reaction when your child is sick? I tell you we worry. Most of us try to be brave in our approach to it, me may dismiss it lightly if it is not bad, but if the disease is serious, we are up in arms.

I remember when Candice was very young and periodically suffered from croups. During these attacks, she could almost not breathe at all. When this happened, I was up and running to her in less than two seconds. Even Tammy, who was a pediatric nurse and gave advises to parents on how to take care of their children was panicking.

When its your own children who suffer, you may know all the ramifications of the sickness; all the symptoms, all the way to handle it, but it’s your baby who is hurting and so you often lose your mind in worrying.

Would you like to know how this daddy was feeling? Then go take a walk through the pediatric intensive care hospital, where children are terminally sick and you will understand. It will break your heart. You will see mums and dads trying to be brave and courageous, but every so often you will find them crying in a corner of the hallways. They are desperate and willing to try whatever to save their kid.

I imagine this royal officer was no exception. He probably had hired the best physicians money could buy. He probably had tried lots of different medicines. He might even have tried alternate remedies, suggested by his friends.

But still the delight of his life was slipping away. More than once, he probably has spent sleepless nights watching over the boy. But now there was not much left to do, except wait and think.

Probably his mind is troubled, his heart ackes. What does all the money matters if it can’t save his boy? What will the yard be like, without his son playing in it? What will the house be like without the boy running through it? Why would he still want to prosper? To leave all he has to who?

Is it not in this case that one would realize that money and power aren’t everything?

This father now would trade it all for the health of his son. I am sure he can only think of the little boy he will never again tuck to bed, of the play worm little legs he will never again rub, of the eager little ears he will never again tell bedtime stories to. Never again! And it must kill him on the inside!

He probably also have some remorse. Regrets often come during those moments of hardship when you are about to loose someone you love. You think about all you should have done, and didn’t find time to do. You regret having spent too much time at work, too much time stressed over unimportant details, you regret your shortness of patience and gentleness and the list goes on and on. You now realize what the priorities should have been.

This official has no where left to turn at this point.

Today, do we place our confidence in our finances or the positions we have obtained? Do these things help us feel more secure?

Do we find security in our family because of the closeness we have with them, because of the joy and happiness they bring us? Do you think a family or money or relationships is enough to make a man happy? Maybe for a season, but soon or later we realize the weakness in these things. They are temporary.

The royal officer realizes in this moment of clarity, that everything around him is only a castle of cards and so he turns towards a potential solution. He hears, I don’t know how, that a miracle worker is in his region. This man is Jesus. And now a flare of hope ignites his night. If he can bring back this carpenter, maybe he will find a healing solution for his boy.

Is he right? Yes, I tell you today Jesus is the only one who can bring hope and happiness when all else has failed.

So, the officer runs towards the Christ. He starts to frantically search for him.

When he finally finds Jesus, he will manage to get a miracle for his son. He will obtain the blessings of our Lord.

This brings me to our first point for our lesson:

I. What can we do to find favor in the Lord ?

    A. We must be ready to humble ourselves. The officer could have sent a servant, the majority of his errands were probably done by his servants ; but he came himself. He traveled 30km on foot or on the back of an animal to find the Messiah (30km was the distance of Capernaum from Cana) Now take note of how he addresses Jesus in verse 47. I love how we see his humility in this verse: “He went to find Jesus and begged him to heal his son…” We get the picture of him almost clutching to Jesus’robe, falling on his knees and imploring. Does his voice crack with emotion, are tears rolling down his cheecks? We don’t know, but he is insistently pleading. If others of his high position were found in this corner of a village, the others would have said “What he is doing is a disgrace!” This officer usually gave commands and was treated like a prince. People had to show him respect. What a show this pleading must have been. No doubt people were staring and murmuring. This man of prestige was begging before a poor carpenter. He was ready to swallow all of his pride and to ignore the protocol of his position, the murmurs of the crowd, and to discard his reputation. He was willing to humble himself if it would bring the blessings of God. And it worked! Today, are you ready to do the same to receive the blessings of heaven? Peter says this in his second book in the fifth chapter, verses 5-7: “…” 1st peter 5:5-7 B. Not only do I see humility in the way that he searches for the favor of the Lord, but also I see that he searches for Jesus with urgency. The life of his son depends on the quickness of his actions. I imagine that he did not lose on instant in searching for Jesus. In the same way, the Bible encourages us to search for God in urgency because our lives and those of our family depend on it. Look in Hebrews 3:7-8 “…” Why does the author insist on the term “today;” because it gives a sense of urgency. It is not tomorrow or the next day that we must search for God. He who wishes the favor of the Lord must search now. That reminds me of a story of a man who each week asked his preacher when leaving the worship services, “Preacher, do you think I ought to respond to the invitation?” The preacher would look at him and say, “John, I don’t think you’re ready.” Finally, one Sunday John told him, “Preacher, it’s been years now that I have asked you if I should respond to the invitation, today I do not want to wait any longer. I want to be baptized and united with God!” The preacher looked into John’s eyes and told him, “There, I see now that you are ready!” You see a man is not ready to receive Christ if he does not possess a certain urgency to find the light in his life. The man who approaches Jesus must have an intense need of Him, a sense of desperation. C. This introduces my third point. If someone would like to find favor in our Lord, he must search the Lord with all of his heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13 “…” The Bible says that a man is not ready to know Jesus if his whole heart does not cry out for him! It’s only the one who earnestly seeks him that receives the rewards of heaven. You must want Christ like a man who dies of thirst wants water.

Now back to the passage in John 4. I would like us to take an instant and look at the response of Jesus in verse 48 “…”

Why does He respond like this? Usually He would just be full of compassion. Here, Jesus seems to address a rebuke. What is He trying to say to the officer?

Only that, Jesus is tired of people coming to him like to an attraction. He does not want the kingdom of God to be like a cotton candy experience that melts sweetly in the mouth and then is gone. He doesn’t want people to come to him only out of selfish physical needs. You see the king’s official doesn’t have the right kind of faith. He would not have come if he hadn’t had a dying son. He would not have come for spiritual needs. And now Jesus addresses him and the crowd some rebuke

It’s what we’ve done all too often, isn’t it? Some of us become religious with great prayers only when something of grave importance happens in our lives: the sickness of a child, financial hardships, a failing marriage, the possibility of being put in prison… of course, why would we not need God in those desperate times!

Too often, we look to God only as long as our problems exist.

Jesus says here, “I want no more of that! Do not come to me only when you are sick, but also when every thing is beautiful in your lives.” That faith, is for both when things are going bad, and also when things are good.

I do not want to wait until my son is dying and tragedy is knocking on my door before I believe. I must be as close to Jesus when my life is good as when all is crashing down around me.

So today we should ask ourselves: When do we really have the desire to be close to God?

A half hearted desire for God will not suffice! We must seek Him with all humility, with urgency, and with all of our heart in the good times and the bad.

Now I arrive at my second major point of the lesson.

II. The way we must treat others.

I see in Jesus, and not the officer, the attitude in which we must treat our neighbors. I love how our Lord reacted. He knows that the heart that asks Him is not all just, but when a man does everything he can, he still choses to help.

Jesus then tells him, « Go ! Your son lives. »

When the officer returns to his home, he finds his son full of life. He can now sit himself on the terrace and feel the flowers in bloom. He can now see the new colors of the sky that are painted at each sunrise and sunset. There is a new intense joy that fills his family, because Jesus chose to help them and heal the son’s sickness.

Jesus has chosen to put aside his feelings of being used, of being of little value, to help this dad.

Oh God, help me to become more like Jesus!

Help me to tear off the blinders that fix my eyes only on my narrow, pitty path of pain, help me to see past my own desires and hurts. Help me to know the narrow path that only a few have been called to travel.

Help me be attuned to their problems, their conditions, to their needs because Jesus was like this in his nature, because to become His disciple I must become aware of the needs of others more than my own. Philippians 2:4-6

Conclusion :

In conclusion, this story teaches us that there is nothing more important than the Lord and to be in His favor.

Do you understand this? If yes, then search Him, with all of your heart, with urgency, with humility, in the good times but also in bad moments, with a faith equally strong in all occasions.

And maybe in the end then my faith will become right as that of the faith of the officer in John 4:53.