Healing the royal official's son by Joseph-Marie Vien

The Miracle of the Healing of an Official’s Son

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, "But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all...let your word 'yes be 'yes,' and your 'no be 'no.' Anything beyond this comes from the evil one." When making a promise, we should feel the need to pause and consider whether or not we can really fulfill our word. What we say is not only a powerful witness to our credibility, but as a Christian, our word is a witness to our faith in Christ. Words we utter can be as binding as gravity. But mostly we use our language flippantly, at worse coercively, not realizing the power behind them, not realizing the tangle we get ourselves into when we use words outside of truth.

Healing of an Official’s Son
Material: Sick boy
Formal: Healed boy
Efficient: Faith and love
Final: Salvation
Aristotle's Four Causes

God made us in his image. One way we know this is how we use language. What we say can hurt or kill or help or love. Likewise, God spoke his creation into being. We read in Genesis, "And God said, 'Let there be light'...And God said, 'Let the water teem...' And God said..." Like God, our words are powerful creative forces.

In the first few sentences of John's gospel, John explains, "In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind."

John uses the word logos to describe Jesus in the first sentence of his Gospel. There's a debate on what logos exactly means, but it seems that John defines logos for us in those first few sentences: all God, who is beyond time and nature; all creative power, who is all life and all light. And this is what our words do as well. They can have creative power, life and light behind them. But sadly, for us humans, they can have the opposite effect as well.

Words animate our human existence. They are the symbols that drive what we do. They are a perfect example of Aristotle's formal cause in our lives. "Let's build the chicken coop over there, Joe." The next day, the coop appears at that corner of the yard.

But why are words important to a discussion about miracles. Let's find out by examining Jesus' second miracle in Cana as recorded by John.

After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

John 4:43-54

Jesus ministry was now in full force, having cleared the temple courts in Jerusalem and having performed miracles there, he returns to Cana again and is immediately confronted with a desperate official who's son was dying. We can fairly conclude that the official had at minimum heard about Jesus' miracle of turning wine into water. Jesus explains matter-of-factly to the official that people won't believe unless they see the miracle's first hand. The official doesn't seem to care about seeing a miracle, he loves his son and just wants him to not die.

Now, here's the clincher. Jesus says, "Go, your son will live." And John records the fact that the boy was restored to health at the moment those words were uttered from Jesus lips. John is teaching us that words are powerful forces. Jesus' words were the formal cause of this miracle.

John even adds this statement, "The man took Jesus at his word..." The man had faith. The man loved his son. Faith and love are two of the supernatural laws that seem to govern Gods miracles.

But once again, we must always understand that Jesus "can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19). We must learn to listen to God, so we will know what God wants for us to do. Then when we know his will for us, we must in faith and confidence with love and obedience, say and do what God has planned for us. This is a risky task, because it puts our faith on the line. But if we don't act, our faith will be on the line as well. If we don't act, our faith will slowly die. And it's not only my faith that's on the line, it's all of ours. It wasn't just the official who's faith in Christ increased, but it was his whole household who believed.

When we fail to listen to God and do what we hear him say, our whole family, our whole community, and our whole church suffers. We must be active participants in the logos. It's not our job to idly sit around. We've got work to do consecrating the whole world back to Christ Jesus.