Monday of Week 4 of Lent – Gospel

Commentary on John 4:43-54

This week we begin a semi-continuous reading of John’s Gospel. Today, Jesus brings the promise of new life, now and in the future. Today’s Gospel follows immediately on the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. Jesus now goes back to Galilee from Samaria. In spite of what Jesus had said earlier about prophets not being welcomed in their own place, he was received well, because they had seen what Jesus had done in Jerusalem during his recent visit there.

He returns to Cana, where he had performed his first sign, changing water into wine. A high official comes to ask Jesus to cure his son who is dying. Jesus’ first reaction is negative. He complains of people just looking for miracles, signs and wonders. The man ignores Jesus’ remarks and repeats his request for Jesus to come and heal his son before he dies. This, in itself, indicates the level of the man’s faith in Jesus. Having faith is always the basic requirement for healing to take place.

In the Synoptic Gospels, it is the centurion who tells Jesus it is not necessary to go to his house. That was because he was a Gentile and knew that Jesus should not go there (it is not clear as to whether John’s account today is another version of that story, or a different healing event). Here Jesus simply says:

Go your son will live.

And in response:

The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way.

On his way home, the official’s servants meet him to tell him that his son is alive and well. On further enquiries, the father learns that the fever subsided just at the moment when Jesus promised that the boy would live. It was also the moment when the man, trusting in Jesus’ word, began his journey home.

John tells us that this is the second of the seven “signs” that Jesus performed. Its clear message is that Jesus brings life, eternal life that begins now. In John, eternal life begins as soon as we attach ourselves in total trust to Jesus and to his Way.

Lent is a good time for us to renew our pledge to walk along his Way and to ask for a deep level of faith to do so.

The seven signs in John’s Gospel are:

  • The changing of water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana (2:1-11)
  • The healing of the royal official’s son (4:46-54 – today’s reading)
  • The healing of a man who is crippled at the pool by the Sheep Gate (5:1-18)
  • Feeding of the 5,000 (6:1-15)
  • Jesus walking on the water (6:16-21)
  • Healing of the man born blind (9:1-41)
  • The raising of Lazarus (11:1-44)
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