Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Personal presence is very important to us humans. I fear we are forgetting its importance in these days of a virtual presence, text messages, emails, and social media messages. In John 4:46-54, the official from Capernaum does something very human. He goes to Jesus, in person, face to face, to ask him for mercy. The official's son is sick and dying. Will Jesus come and heal him?
Not only is the encounter in person, but he asks Jesus to come in person and bring healing. This kind of face to face encounter is deeply human. It's how we are made to work.
Jesus deviates a little bit from his usual pattern here. Rather than going with the official, he simply tells the official that his son will live. The man takes Jesus at his word and goes home, only to be met on the way by servants who say the son became better at the time Jesus said he would live.
We learn several important things from this encounter. First, as we expected, Jesus is able to heal people without actually being physically present there in the room. Jesus' word is powerful. He created heavens and the earth, and filled the earth with His Word. He can certainly speak to our needs and take care of them. A second thing we learn from this encounter is that Jesus receives people who come to ask him for mercy on behalf of others. We can all approach the throne of grace, trusting that Jesus will show grace and mercy.
This passage also teaches us something about Christian care. When possible, instead of settling for a text, an email, a social media message, or even a phone call, visit with one another in person, face to face. Bring the love of God in Christ to people you can see and hear and who can see and hear you. Love and serve your neighbor in the presene of your neighbor. Especially in a society that has been rocked by illness and isolation, we need to exemplify the God who is near. Thanks be to God for coming to be with us.
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