“Yesterday At One” ( John 4: 46 – 53, NEB ) by Carley Evans


At Cana-in-Galilee, Jesus meets an officer in the royal service whose son is lying ill at Capernaum. The father has heard that Jesus is arrived from Judea. He comes to Jesus, begging that the Lord return to his home to cure his son, “who [is] at the point of death.” Jesus — exasperated — says to the father, “Will none of you ever believe without seeing signs and portents?” The royal officer only begs the more. Jesus tells him to return to his home where he will find that his son will live.

“The man believes what Jesus says and starts for home.” On his way, his servants meet him. They tell him, “Your boy is going to live.”

The father asks what time it was when his son started to recover. His servants say, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” The father remembers that this was the exact time Jesus told him his son would live.

“He and all his household become believers.”

The father believes enough in Jesus to pay attention to His command to return home. But, it’s hard to imagine that on his walk back to Capernaum this worried father did not begin to doubt. Why didn’t Jesus come with him? Did this Jesus not care enough to make the journey? What if my son dies? What will I do then?

When his servants find him, I imagine they are over-joyed, excited to tell their master that his son is recovering — his fever has broken; he is not completely well at this point. The father accepts their assessment, but wants to confirm that Jesus is the direct cause of the wonderful result. He asks the time the fever broke; and only when the time matches the time when Jesus said that his son will live does the father truly believe in the Lord Jesus.

The final results are a healed child and the salvation of a household. “This is now the second sign which Jesus performs after coming down from Judea into Galilee.” (John 4:54) The first was changing water into wine.