This is Day Seven of Christ Church Manchester’s lent devotionals, where we are breaking down the book of John. Written by Andrew Dowdeswell.
John 4: 43 – 54:
Have you ever noticed that when people get desperate, when they are searching for an answer to a problem that is overwhelming, to a situation that is overawing, to an issue that can consume all their thoughts and worries, they tend to ask for prayer?
Whether they are believers or unbelievers, it is often God who, in time of great need, is the person that many turn to for help. Just in recent years, we have seen initiatives like #PrayforParis, or #PrayforOrlando. How often is it that hurt families often ask for prayers, or when people give condolences, they say ‘my thoughts and prayers are with you’?
The reason why I point to this is because I believe that the same desperation that drives people to God is what the ‘Royal Official’ in this story also feels. With his son at home, nearing his death, the royal official travels a great distance – it takes him over a day to return – to find Jesus and then hope that He can heal his son.
They are the actions of a desperate man.
But what is so brilliant about the royal official’s character is what he does after Jesus proclaims that his son will live. In verse 50, it states that he ‘took Jesus at His word and departed.’
That is an incredible show of faith. Hearing Jesus’ bold words, accepting them and then returning home is an unfathomable showcasing of belief. I know that if I was in the same situation, I would struggle to simply ‘take Jesus at His word’.
It is this mustard seed type faith that Jesus refers to later in the gospels that the royal official has. That is an almighty challenge for us, in our cushy lives, with our iPhones and posh coffee, to be faithful that, when troubles come – these are rarely as devastating as the imminent death of a son – God is still in control, that He is still the author of all things, that He is still the almighty.
It is easy to be distracted by our circumstances, by how up-to-date our gadgets are or by how much success Arsenal football club are enjoying.
But we are called to be like the royal official, to be steadfastly believing in Jesus’ words, however challenging that may be.
Written by:Andy Dowdeswell