So, you know the story of the faith of the centurion. You know, Matthew 8: 5-13. A Roman official, a centurion, came to Jesus asking for help because his servant was paralyzed and in terrible suffering. Jesus answered his call for help by saying, “I will go and heal him.”
But the centurion said, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed…”
Good answer, right? Jesus thought so. He was astonished, scripture says. And Jesus said to the crowd, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith…” And to the centurion He said, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And the servant was healed, long-distance.
I always believed that the reason Jesus healed long-distance like that was because this centurion had so much faith. I mean, he astonished the Creator of the Universe! Of course Jesus would do a miracle like that for someone with so much faith! So, I always left this story wishing I had more faith, feeling a bit guilty or maybe even self-despising for my lack of faith. How was Jesus supposed to do anything in my life if my faith wasn’t big enough?
Okay, let’s go to John 4:46-54 to the story of the doubting-official-with-the-tired-faith’s son. I’m guessing you’re not as familiar with this story as with the centurion, but it’s there. Thank God it’s there.
So, Jesus is in Galilee, in the place where He once turned water into wine. While he’s there, there’s this royal official whose son was currently lying sick at home, dying. This official had heard about Jesus, so he goes to Jesus and begs him to come and heal his son. (46-47)
Jesus told him, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.” (48)
Weird answer, right? But it makes sense. How many times have you begged God for a miracle with your faith tired and your doubt threatening to pull you away from Him? How many times have you felt that you have barely enough faith just to ask God for help, but beyond that, your faith fails you? Maybe you felt a miracle or a sign was the only thing that could revive your dead faith.
So, how does the official answer to that? “Sir, come down before my child dies.” (49) He’s impatient. Jesus is telling this guy what He needs and reaching into His tired soul, and the guy answers by saying, “Dude, would you just hurry up? My kid’s dying. If You don’t get down there, the kid’s gonna die. You don’t have time to waste!” Maybe this guy’s fighting for more than just a dying kid. I think his faith is dying, too. He doesn’t even believe that Jesus knows how to manage His time when it comes to saving a life. By saying this, he’s agreeing that he needs signs and wonders to believe.
If I were Jesus, I would’ve said, “Fine. If you don’t trust me, that’s your problem. Your faith isn’t big enough for me, anyway.” But what Jesus said was, “You may go. Your son will live.” (50)
Long-distance healing? Verses 50-53 say that the man just took Jesus for his word, struggling with his doubt, and went on home. His servant told him that his son had been healed. You’d think he’d be overwhelmed with the miracle and accept the truth, but even then, he feels the need to ask when his kid got better, just to make sure it happened when this Jesus guy said it would happen, just to make sure he really was healed because of this Man. Then, he believed.
This official’s faith was nothing compared to the centurion. But Jesus performed the miracle anyway. Jesus knew his faith was small and his doubts consumed him, yet he healed his son. Jesus knew that this man at least had the faith to ask Him for help, and that one step of faith was enough.
I once heard it said by the lead singer, Mike Donehey, of my favorite band, Tenth Avenue North, that “Christianity isn’t about how much faith you have; it’s about Who your faith is in.”
If we can just take the step to believe that Jesus can help us, even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, He will meet us where we are and He will build our faith. He’ll help us believe. He’ll overwhelm you with mercy and grace in spite of yourself. Tell Him that you’re struggling to believe. Be honest with Him. Ask Him to give you the faith to trust what He says. He will be there for you. God is good, amen?
Busted Heart (Hold on to Me)- for KING & COUNTRY