Below we have the latest installment of Bob Dunne’s book, 909 Days that Changed the World. We will post two chapters a week for the summer months. We suggest reading it quietly and putting yourself in the scenes. You might be amazed at how closer you can get to Jesus! Should you be interested in your own copy, the book ($14.95 plus sales tax) can be bought from his publisher Leonine Press, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. It is also available in Nook and Kindle. You may also get an autographed copy directly from Bob by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter 8: Second Miracle at Cana
Jesus, on his way back to Galilee, continues on the road through Samaria and, when he gets into Galilee, slows down his pace, taking time to meet and speak to the people as he proceeds north. Word of Jesus’ arrival in Galilee spreads like wildfire as travelers take the news to different parts of the province. Jesus seems to be in no rush to get back to Nazareth; indeed, he doesn’t turn west off the main trail to his hometown, but continues north to Cana, the scene less than a year ago where he changed the water into wine.
The common-folk Galileans are happy to see him. Arriving in Cana, Jesus seems to meander, almost as if he were waiting for something or someone. They have all heard about what he did in Jerusalem at the Passover, how he had cleared the temple area of merchants and silenced the Jewish leaders. They know he has been baptizing in the very spot John had been at the Jordan River. They have heard the story of the man he cured at the pool during Pentecost. Many even know John himself has deferred to Jesus…and then there is the incident about his turning water into wine at a wedding right here in town.
Meanwhile, news of Jesus’ return comes to one of the Roman officials in the town of Capernaum. He is in charge of overseeing the town but is in the midst of a great family crisis. His only son, eleven years old, is gravely sick with a high fever threatening his life. The doctors have tried everything, and nothing is working. It appears only a matter of time before his beloved son will be dead. Being the kind of man who keeps his ear to the ground, he knows the stories about this Jesus. After asking the doctors yet again if there is any hope for his son and receiving the same negative response, he decides to go see this Jesus himself. There are stories that he turned water into wine, and, although they may be fabrications, as he looks at his son he decides he has nothing to lose. When he tells his wife his plan, she shakes her head in disbelief. With their son on his death bed, how can he go chasing after some Jewish folk hero? Has he no sense of how ridiculous he will look? For the love of his son, however, the official tells his wife he will swallow his pride and go to this man to see if he can help.
Taking one of his guards with him, he saddles up the horses and makes the twenty-five mile trip in about half a day, arriving at Cana in the early afternoon. Inquiring as to Jesus’ whereabouts, he is led to him by the local townsfolk who recognize this man as one of the Roman authorities. The townsfolk wonder what this meeting could possibly entail. Is Jesus, like John the Baptist, in trouble with the Romans? The Roman doesn’t seem to have enough guards to arrest him, so perhaps the official will just be questioning Jesus. In any event, curiosities run high; a large crowd draws near as Jesus is introduced to the man. This is the one for whom Jesus has been waiting.
The Roman official bows respectfully to Jesus and, with a tone of voice that tries to be commanding yet betrays his heavy heart, asks him to come to Capernaum and heal his son. Although the official is trying to address Jesus as his superior, Jesus looks on him with love for the faith he is showing by making the trip and this request. True, he is here as a last resort, but he is a Gentile, and this request he makes of a Jew is remarkable. To further deepen his faith, Jesus will challenge him to see if the Roman will believe in him, Jesus, and not simply in the miracle. We will see time and time again that Jesus is interested in alleviating suffering, but he is most interested in their faith in him and not in the signs. Most, unlike this Roman, will not
be able to do so.
When Jesus says, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not” (John 4:48), the Roman official immediately gets the point; it is not about signs and wonders, but about believing in Jesus Christ. Somehow, in a way hard to explain, he knows Jesus has the power to do this and just about anything he wants to do. His response to Jesus shows his change of heart. Acknowledging Jesus as his superior now, he says, “Lord, come down before my son dies” (John 4:49). Jesus answers him by giving him one final test of faith. “Go on your way; your son will live” (John 4:50). The official, convinced so thoroughly in his heart about Jesus, easily passes the test, and without protest, turns, gets back on his horse, gives Jesus one last long look, and rides off towards home. The crowd watching all this, yet missing the point, is stunned at the Roman official’s leaving so quietly. It gets late in the day as the official makes his way home and, as the roadway back to Capernaum is not an easy one to travel in darkness, he decides to spend the night camped out with his guard in a safe spot along the road. Although his desire to return home to confirm his son’s recovery is powerful, he feels an even more powerfully profound peace and security in believing his son will live. He has never felt so sure of something in his life. He tells his guard how confident he is his son will live, but the guard says little, not sharing his leader’s faith. The guard nods his head in agreement, because he does not want to offend his boss, but in his own heart, he thinks his superior crazy for being so sure his son is cured. Time will tell.
The next morning the official and his guard get up early, make themselves a quick breakfast, and resume the trip back home. They are only a short distance from Capernaum when they see a group of men riding towards them with arms and voices raised. The guard recognizes the riders as some of the other guards assigned to the official. The official’s heart begins to race now with excitement. The riders arrive and, bursting with joy and shouting over one another, say that the official’s son is healed. “It is a miracle!” they say. “He got better in an instant.” The official, subdued with humility, asks one question. “At what time did the fever leave him?” The reply from the guards is as he expects: “Yesterday at about one in the afternoon” (John 4:52). His faith, confirmed, grows even stronger. The guard who accompanied him to Cana stands with his mouth open in disbelief. Could this be?
Upon arriving home, the official’s son and wife run out to greet him. He embraces his son with tears in his eyes as his wife, crying, watches them. After a brief second, she also approaches her husband, apologizing, thanking, and asking for his forgiveness all at the same time. The official gathers her in his arms and gently tells her all is fine. The three of them together walk arm in arm back inside the house. Immediately the official painstakingly relates to his entire family and household the events of the last day. His faith is contagious, and his whole household comes to believe in Jesus. As the news of this miraculous cure spreads all over Capernaum, talk about Jesus heightens to a feverish pitch.