John 4:43-54: Lord over space.

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) 45 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.46 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 ill at Capernaum. 47 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.48 ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’49 The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’50 ‘Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he enquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, ‘Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.’53 Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and his whole household believed.54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee. NIV

Sometimes, when we pray we don’t get the wording exactly right. This Royal official ‘begged’ Jesus ‘ to come and heal his son, who was close to death’ (47b). Again he pleaded, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies’ (49). His urgency is understandable, but he thought Jesus had to be in his home; that He had to enter the same room as the child in order to heal him. The wording of the ‘prayer’ wasn’t exactly right. But Jesus saw the man’s heart and did the work of healing anyway (50). This is a miracle of healing at a distance. Jesus is Lord over space.

When we start to pray about a matter, we may well need to persevere through discouragements (48). After the man’s initial plea, it looked like Jesus Himself was putting him off. At least, His words didn’t sound promising. But things were not how they appeared. The nobleman persevered and received the object of his intercession. It is, however, a reality to contend with that faith often has to persevere through discouragements; through seeming barriers and obstacles. Ronald Dunn observed that when we start to pray in earnest about a matter, things regularly ‘drop by worse on the way to better!’

This is a story, then, about praying and persevering. It is also about timing (52, 53). This ‘coincidence’ was really a ‘God-incidence’, and it brought people into the Kingdom.

It is fundamentally, of course, a story about believing.The essence of faith is to take Jesus at His Word (50).You go about your business, trusting that His Word is true, even when you have no evidence. Faith is the evidence (Hebrews 11:1). F.B.Meyer shares an interesting insight on this:

”It would appear…that he went to some inn or caravansary on his way back, because there would have been ample time between the seventh hour (one o’clock in the day) and nightfall to get from Cana down to Capernaum. Why should he hasten! The boy was living, doing well, since the Master had said so. He was sure of it and thanked God for it and gladly took the opportunity of a quiet night’s rest, to sleep off the effects of long watching, intense anxiety, and the swift journey to Cana. When his servants met him with the news that the boy was healed, he inquired at what hour the change had taken place, merely to corroborate his own conclusions.” F.B. Meyer, Devotional Commentary, p.461.

Prayer: ”Give me the faith which can remove, and sink the mountain to a plain.”