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.
The first one concerns the way that one must approach Jesus
The second concerns the way we should treat others
The second concerns the way we should treat others
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?
Verse 46 tells us that he was a royal officer, probably directly associated with the Galilean Monarch
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:
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.
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
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.