Now he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had made the water wine. In Capernaum there was a certain royal official whose son was sick. When he heard that Jesus had come back from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and begged him to come down and heal his son, who was about to die. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe!” “Sir,” the official said to him, “come down before my child dies.” Jesus told him, “Go home; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and set off for home. While he was on his way down, his slaves met him and told him that his son was going to live. So he asked them the time when his condition began to improve, and they told him, “Yesterday at one o’clock in the afternoon the fever left him.” Then the father realized that it was the very time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he himself believed along with his entire household. (John 4:46-53 — NET)
Capernaum is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee and over 600 feet below sea level. It is 20 miles away from Cana, the road is an uphill trip from Capernaum, and in those times it would have taken more than a day to travel. The royal official must have worked for King Herod, the ruler of Galilee, and would have been an important, rich, and powerful man; he must also have been weak in his faith before this day because he worked for an enemy of God and His people… choosing money over God. But in spite of all these strikes against him, the desperation he felt at the very real possibility of his son dying made him humble himself and ask for Jesus’ help, and walk, or ride a donkey, for over a day to get that help. It is very clear that he had faith at this point because he was ready to give, and to give what was hard for him. Faith that is not ready to give is not faith at all.
We notice that Jesus was disappointed with people’s faith when he said, “Unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe!” Even with the royal official, we notice that there were two separate times that he believed, for two different things. First the man believed when Jesus told him to turn around and make the day-long journey home because his son would live. He had no guarantee that his son would be okay, but decided to believe in his son’s healing, set off for home, and before he had walked the 20 miles to Capernaum his slaves (or more specifically, bond-servants: people that would sell themselves into slavery) met him on the road and told him that his son had been healed at one o’clock in the afternoon on the previous day.
This first kind of belief is belief for a miracle, for a blessing. It is good, but it is limited. We need this belief, but it is not the most important type of belief. The second type is more important, and is what Jesus was looking for, because that belief transforms a person’s life.
The second time the official believed was when he realized that his son had been healed at the precise moment that Jesus said that he would live. This second belief refers to saving faith. At that moment he decided to give his life to Jesus and follow him, along with the rest of his family. This is the belief that surrenders to God, sets aside our own will, and gives in to His. This type of faith saves our souls and makes heaven a reality, opens the way for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and even makes every other blessing possible.
Don’t come to Jesus only for what He can give you; come to Him because He is Almighty God and deserves your worship… because only He offers eternal salvation… because belief in Him as the Lord of your life is the only way for your life to be totally transformed.