Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Third Sunday after the Epiphany - January 22, 2012
Third Sunday after the Epiphany - January 22, 2012
So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
John 4:46-54 (ESV)
Throughout the first half of John’s Gospel we see “signs.” A good sign is an event that is eye-catching while simultaneously pointing beyond itself, directing our gaze toward something more larger, greater, more substantial. In John’s Gospel, then, a sign is a moment when something extraordinary happens in the here and now that seems to open heaven and enable the glory of God to shine into our world.
The official at Capernaum, in his dire predicament, almost misses the glory for the sign. In this encounter, the official comes to Jesus for a miracle, which is why Jesus says to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” What is surprising is that, while the official comes in desperation for a tangible miracle, he leaves satisfied by nothing more than a few words. “‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him...” The official does not beg that Jesus come with him, nor bring his son to Jesus, nor storm away angry and discouraged that he hadn’t received the outcome he was seeking. He simply believes the word of Jesus and goes on his way. Appropriately enough, the entire episode doesn’t end with a recounting of the healing of the son, but with belief (“And he himself believed...”) in the word of Jesus (“...the hour when Jesus had said to him...”).
This episode shows us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus. During moments when we “need” a miracle, often what He provides is something greater, though less obvious. In these moments, instead of providing a miracle of the flesh, He offers a miracle come in the flesh, the Word became flesh. Here, rather than merely healing the official’s son, Jesus works to heal the doubting heart of the official himself. Jesus may even seem to get in the way of what the father wants (the healing of his son), in order to give the man what he truly needs and cannot live without (true healing by the Son of God). During moments of hardship and desperation, do you only see the sign, or can you see the glory that it points to? Is your joy in the extraordinary event, or is it in the one who controls every event? When asking for a sign, are you willing to see first of all what the sign points to: the glory of God shining into our world?
John C. Lin, Downtown Lead Pastor
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect from The Book of Common Prayer
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