Faith and Persistence Pay

It worked for the official in Cana, and it works for us too!

Reflections on John 4:46–54

“The official said to Him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’” — John 4:49

Jesus returned to Cana where He had previously performed His first miracle of turning water into wine. Clearly, word of mouth made that first event a major news event. So much so, that upon Jesus’ return, an official who lived there asked Jesus to save his sick son. Jesus doesn’t immediately save the official’s son, but the man persists in asking for Jesus’ help. There are two takeaways for me in this story. First, even in Jesus’ time, word of mouth was powerful. Second, the man’s persistence showed his faith in Jesus.

To the first point, oral storytelling was an arguably more important form of communication than it is today. In an era before telegraphs, television, and text messages, oral storytelling was a source of news and entertainment. Imagine the stories that the wedding guests told after witnessing Jesus turning plain water into a fine chardonnay! At any rate, the people of Cana, including the official, had surely heard of what Jesus did when he was in town last. That, coupled with the other stories that were piling up about Jesus served to paint quite the portrait of Jesus. Based on this picture of Jesus, the official believed in Jesus’ power.

Because of the man’s faith, which was probably based on what he heard in town, Jesus healed his son. For whatever reason, when the official first asked Jesus to heal his son, Jesus demurred saying,

“Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

Insistent, the official continued to press Jesus to heal his son. The combination of faith and persistence is the formula the man points us to. Life placed the official in the story into an opportunity to exercise his faith. With his son ill, the man may have felt as though he had few alternatives. Or Jesus may have been his first recourse. We don’t know. What we do know is that the man was dogged in seeking Jesus’ help, showing his faith in Christ.

When life places us in those situations, we need to show that same mix of faith and persistence. In times of trouble or strife, the situation can feel overwhelming — so much so that we might even forget we have Someone on our side. When the rush of trouble comes, we’ve got to take a minute and make sure we’re bringing Jesus in as our advocate. We then need to place the burden on Him by asking for what we need.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Of if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” — Matthew 7:9–11

We then need to persevere in our pursuit of Christ. Persistently seek, and persistently ask through prayer, study, and exercising our faith at every opportunity. The faith the official shows us reminds me of the faith of the centurion in Luke 7:1–10.