“… And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.’” John 4:50b (NLT)
Understanding the nature of faith will help us live by faith. Jesus’ encounter with a government official in John 4 offers practical insights into the nature of faith. The official came to Jesus in a crisis. His son was gravely ill and, apart from a miracle, would most likely die. He traveled some 20 miles from Capernaum to Cana where Jesus had performed His first miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding feast. When He saw Jesus, He said,
“Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.”
When he addressed Jesus as Lord, he put himself under Jesus – even though he was a legal authority over Jesus. He believed that Jesus had the authority and power to heal his son. Faith begins with believing that God is able to handle whatever situation we face. In Hebrews 11:6, the Bible says,
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
Not only did this unnamed government official believe, but he earnestly sought out Jesus and pleaded with Him to come and heal his son. Rather than leaving with the man for Capernaum, Jesus told him,
“Go back home. Your son will live!” John 4:50a (NLT)
The man’s response demonstrates a few more insights into understanding the nature of faith. John tells us that the man believed what Jesus said and started home. What would you have done? Would you have insisted on Jesus returning with you? Notice how the man demonstrated his faith.
- He believed before he saw the miracle! We often think, I’ll believe it when I see it. But God says, “You’ll see it when you believe it!” That’s what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.
- He obeyed before he understood everything. In verses 51-54, John tells us, “While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, ‘Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!’ Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, ‘Your son will live.’” What an insight into the nature of faith. Faith is believing God and earnestly seeking Him. Faith is believing God for things I’ve never seen. Faith is obeying God before I understand everything.
- Another insight into the nature of faith we see in this government official’s response is this: Faith is trusting God no matter what happens. He didn’t really know for sure what would happen and didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t come with him. Nevertheless, he took his need to Jesus and trusted that He would do what was best. He didn’t try to tell Jesus how to heal his son.
Before the story ends, John adds this note: And he and his entire household believed in Jesus. That’s the nature of faith! Grateful for what Jesus had done, this government official gave the glory to God, and his faith led his entire household to believe in Jesus. His faith had grown from believing that Jesus could heal to asking Him to do it. Then, he acted on what Jesus told him when it didn’t make sense. How could Jesus heal his son from 20 miles away? Then, he shared his faith in Jesus with his entire household! Faith is never static; it is always dynamic, and it grows as we use it.
- What are some of the areas in your life where you’ve found yourself wanting to “see” your answer to prayer before having to “believe” God had answered your prayer?
- Diligently seeking God helps us to know and believe in him. What are some ways you can be diligent in seeking God this week?
- Can you think of a time when you believed God had answered your prayer before ever having seen the answer? If so, who are two people you can encourage by sharing that faith experience?