Tuesday, February 26, 2013
A Lenten Reflection for February 26, 2013
Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. (John 4:46b-53)
The problem with email is that you can’t hear a person’s tone in the message. Misinterpretations can take place and feelings can get hurt. That’s why emoticons were invented.
It’s too bad that ancient scribes didn’t think of emoticons. I could have used a scriptural emoticon when Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” I’m not entirely sure, but it seems like he’s chastising the royal official, who has come in desperation to ask Jesus to heal his son. In fact, the man does indeed believe Jesus as he heads home, trusting that his son has been made well.
Was there a sad or angry face next to Jesus’ words? I don’t know. Perhaps there was an emoticon of curiosity or even of happiness. Could it be that Jesus saw, in requests for signs and wonders, a recognition that his words had been true, that indeed the kingdom of God was at hand? Weren’t such things signals of a greater reality yet to come, one that had erupted in present time? Maybe longing for signs and wonders was a good thing, and not a sign of spiritual weakness.
I confess that I need the occasional sign and wonder in order to believe. It doesn’t have to be spectacular (although spectacular now and again wouldn’t be so bad); it can be as simple as folks from a church coming together to help a family in need. It can be followers of Jesus giving of their time and money to see to it that impoverished people have clean water to drink, houses to live in, and wheelchairs so they can get around. It can be faithful people gathering each week to serve God in worship, to remember who they are, to express love to one another, and then go out in the power of the Spirit to love and serve God and the world.
Actually, I do get to see these things, and I do believe.