January 14, 2013

A Fathers Desperate Plea

I was excited to see my son enjoy Christmas this year. At 3 and a half he is at a great age for it.

The lead up to Christmas was so exciting for him. We had an elf on the shelf, presents under the tree, an Advent calendar/truck that hid chocolates, candies, and even tiny toys. To top it all off we even had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration with both family and church. He was excited.

Alas that excited Christmas morning did not come to pass. Simeon woke up Christmas morning with a 100 degree fever. So instead of excitedly tearing into presents and bounding around all day Simeon spent most of the day laying down on the couch, taking Advil, drinking water, and of course sleeping.

Never the less the day went on mostly normal and sometime in the night Simeon's fever broke. Within a few days he was back to his old self and finally begin to be excited about some of his new presents.

Today's sign is about another father, another son, and a far more serious fever. The story is found here in John 4:43-54.

This father is described as a royal official from Capernaum. What royal court he belongs too (Herod's or Caesar's) and what his function was is still hotly contested. But what we can say with some level of certainty was that was man was well off. He had above average levels of power, prestige, and possessions. Therefore it is likely he had access to good food, clean water, and whatever medical care was available at the time. Likewise I feel it is reasonable to assume this man was also used to getting what he wanted.

Then his son become ill with a high fever. A child with high fever today is no laughing matter, but in first century Palestine it could easily be a death sentence. This is the position the father has found himself. His son was dying and there was nothing that he could do about it. He was likely feeling the way all parents do when faced with the loss of a child,desperate.

I didn't draw this, I can't draw this well
He becomes so desperate that he travels 32 kilometers from Capernaum to Cana to find Jesus, a man that is supposed to be able to help the sick with just a touch. So the father set out hoping that he could make it to Cana, find Jesus, convince Jesus to return with him, make it back to Capernaum, and that Jesus could in fact heal the sick all before his son died.

Given all of this you can imagine the joy the father must have felt when he reached Cana, found Jesus and explained the problem. Likewise you can imagine the disappointment and frustration that he must have felt when Jesus responded by saying; 'Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.' 

In this moment the father doesn't care about signs and wonders, good and evil, or the kingdom of God. All he cares about is that his son is laying in Capernaum dying. All he wants is for Jesus to travel with him and heal him. So he pleads once more with Jesus; “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

This time Jesus responds more directly. But instead of agreeing to travel to Capernaum he says something the father was not expecting. Jesus said ; ' Go your child will live'.

All of a sudden the father is left with a terrible choice. He could demand that Jesus come with him, or give him some level of proof that his son would be fine. But Jesus just chastised the people in the area for demanding signs and wonders. Such a demand could destroy any hope of his son recovering!

Or the father's could take Jesus at his word and begin the journey back home with nothing to show for it. However the rumors about Jesus said that he could heal the sick with a touch, maybe a prayer but who ever heard of a man being able to heal with just a few words at a great distance?

What would you do in this situation? Would you beg, plead and demand signs, wonders, and proofs? Or would you have the faith to turn around and walk back home trusting Jesus at his word? This is not an easy question. Given the choice between hard evidence and no evidence I would take the evidence every time! But sometimes evidence doesn't come and we have to take things fully on faith.

Now I believe that logic and faith can go hand and hand. Likewise I believe proof and faith, and reason and faith, and knowledge and faith can go hand and hand. However certainty and faith do not go hand and hand.

If God is God there will come a time, likely many times when I do not understand, where I do not have proof, where the thing I am asked to do does not make a lot of sense. These are the times when we have to operate on faith alone.

Jesus asked that father to trust him, even though he wasn't doing what he wanted or what he thought should happen. And because he did his son was healed, and his family was saved. God may be asking you to trust him, even though you don't understand what he is doing, are you willing to walk in that direction?