Monday, October 09, 2006

Contemplation #196
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. John 4:50

We are reading the story of a royal official who comes to Jesus because he fears that his child is dying. Jesus reassures him that he may go because his child will live. The gospel then says, that the man “took Jesus at his word.” Undoubtedly the official has some faith or confidence. He accepts and trusts the word that Jesus speaks to him, and leaves as Jesus told him. We should also note that when his servants meet him on the way and tell him that his boy is living, and he finds that the time of his recovery was the exact time that Jesus reassured him, scripture says that he “believed.” There are times when we take Jesus at his word and yet we are not yet in true belief.

Contemplation #197
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. John 4:50

We should not disparage the way in which this royal official accepted the words of Jesus even without the later belief that he would experience. In fact, this is a most necessary step in how God builds faith in us by his grace. As the psalmist challenges us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34: 8), so strong belief grows out of the experience of God’s grace and goodness. Taking the Lord at his word, even in doubt, is the first step toward vibrant faith. Accepting and acting on God’s word to us will often lead us into a powerful belief that can be received no other way. We begin in imperfection so that God may bring us to greater perfection.

Contemplation #198
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. John 4:50

Perhaps this official left the presence of Jesus supposing that he’d been reassured about what the future would hold, when in fact he was being told about what was happening in the present. While he thought that Jesus was telling him that his son would get better, he did not understand that Jesus was saying that his son was better. The divine blessing was given without his unawareness, and before he believed. We do not have to believe in order for God to work, but we do often need even the most minimal willingness to act on his word if we are to ever see what God is doing. If we take Jesus at his word, we will come to have faith.