“The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way” (John 4:50).
John 4 is best known for the beautifully scandalous encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman and their conversation by a historic well. And why not?—John devotes 45 of the 54 verses in the chapter to that episode. But there is another fascinating encounter recorded just afterwards in vv 46-54. (Now would be a good time to read it).
This is the second Gentile that Jesus interacts with in the chapter (after the Samaritan woman). And gosh if these “outsiders” don’t demonstrate real faith more than the “insiders” did to that point!
I try to put myself in the official’s shoes. His son is ill to the point of death and he is desperate for help. I too have a son and know that I wouldn’t spare anything to save him. And so the man journeys to Jesus and asks him to come back with him from Cana to Capernaum to heal his son. Jesus eventually tells the man to go back home, assuring him that his son will live (v 50), though Jesus himself won’t travel back with him.
Now let’s pause a moment. This father’s son’s life is at stake. And Jesus won’t go with him. He speaks the word that the boy is healed, but is that good enough? Would you settle for it? Or would you continue urging Jesus to come with you, physically, to see and touch your child, so that you too could watch the miracle take place?
I think this man’s case is often the way we observe God working in our lives. He invites us to believe him word, to trust in his promise, and to go on our way, walking by faith. The man believed and he went. I’m reminded of Abraham, whom God called to go from his home to a place yet unnamed. And Abraham believed and he went. I’m reminded of Jesus’ disciples, whom Jesus called to leave everything behind and to come and follow him. And they believed and they went. And we too are called to do the same—to trust Jesus enough to follow him—to believe with such conviction that we walk by faith and not by sight.
A favorite hymn of mine is “ ‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” I’ve included a link to listen to the song below. I hope you’ll take a moment to listen and I hope you’ll do like the people of faith have always done: to believe and to follow, to trust God as you go on your way.