What would you do to get help for your child who was sick and near death? In John 4 we read about a royal official whose son was sick and who likely had exhausted his local contacts and resources to heal his son. The man was desperate for help.
This royal official was in Capernaum and heard about a man named Jesus, who was performing miracles. Jesus was in Cana, twenty miles west of Capernaum. The official would have to walk seven hours uphill to reach Jesus. (Capernaum was located 700 feet below sea level, and Cana sat at the foot of some mountains 300 feet above sea level.) The father was committed to finding help for his son.
Once the royal official found Jesus, “he went to Him and began asking Him to come down and heal his son” (John 4:47). The word asking means that the man was begging, imploring, pleading with Jesus. The Lord briefly responded that the father was just looking for a sign and miracle like everyone else in order to believe Jesus was the Son of God. The royal official asked Jesus again, “Sir, come before my child dies.” Jesus replied, “Go; your son is alive” (vv. 49, 50).
The passage says that the man believed the word of Jesus. As he started walking home, his slaves met him with the news that his son was alive. When the father asked when the son’s health began to improve, the slaves told him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him” (v. 52) — the same time Jesus had told the father, “Your son is alive.”
This story teaches us to never underestimate the influence of a faithful parent. Many times when I was a teenager and young adult in college, my mom gave me a Bible, Christian music CDs, Christian books, and other gentle reminders, pointing me back to God. I know she prayed for me and did her best to guide me into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. She was committed to me and encouraged me in my faith journey.
That royal official was committed to his son. How committed are we to our children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren? Not only was this young boy’s life saved, but he was given an example to follow. His dad walked for seven hours uphill to find a Jew he likely had never met, hoping to heal his son. After that, the boy knew what true commitment to family looks like.
Furthermore, he learned what faith looks like. John concludes this story with a note to his readers that because of the actions of this royal official and Jesus’ miracle, everyone in his household believed in Jesus (v. 53).
Edgar Guest once wrote, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” That boy, along with the servants, saw commitment that day. In his book Bringing Up Boys, psychologist and author James Dobson wrote that though children probably won’t remember what you say, they will likely be impacted for the rest of their lives by what you do. Our children learn about our faith and commitment by what we do. How are our actions guiding them to a relationship with God?