Seeing Was Not Believing … A Father’s Faith!
This can be a confusing statement if not an outright riddle; you can go a lot of different directions with it. But in a John Chapter 4:43-54 context, it’s a key life application principle yielding great wisdom.
My thoughts on this originated in a recent Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. This year we’re studying the Book of John which probably like you, I have read chapter-by-chapter a dozen times. But the phrase above leaped off the class notes page and demanded to be un-riddled.
In John Chapter 4, a high-standing official in the Roman hierarchy of the times (and closely related to Herod who was instrumental in condemning Jesus) passionately petitioned Jesus for the life of his son who was sick and near death. The official’s encounter with Jesus was not by chance, he had traveled over twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana to find Jesus. Once there, and intent on cornering Jesus, his urgency poured out. “Sir, come down (to Capernaum) before my child dies.”
“Go, Jesus replied. Your son will live.” That’s all Jesus said! And the remainder of the verse tells us, “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” What? No follow-up questions from the official like “How will I know?” or “When will he be well?” or others I might have asked. Just faith.
We know this official had a seed of faith, despite his Roman pedigree. In his request was an expectation that Jesus would accompany him back to Capernaum to heal his son. That was not to be. Purposefully, Jesus called the official to a higher level of faith and trust. The man would depart for home with only Jesus’ word of assurance of his son’s condition – and not a shred of confirming evidence. He did not argue with Jesus nor beg him again to come to his son’s bedside.
And so we come full circle to the riddle in this post – but with more clarity and the benefit of a faith life-lesson. Seeing for the Roman official was not a prerequisite for belief. What doubts were in his mind we’ll never know, but he overcame them and soldiered in faith as a father.
Does this story nudge you to a new level of faith in a difficult circumstance? Do you know the Jesus of the Bible? Do you trust the Word made flesh who moved into the neighborhood and dwelt among us? (John 1:14, The Message). Like the Roman official, can you depart from a difficult circumstance with only the Word of God to sustain you? Do you possess the human patience that relies solely on the character of God to float your boat when your prayer request and desired result are not immediately co-joined?
“Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried,” says Oswald Chambers, and “God’s character must be proven to be trustworthy in our own minds.”