The Faith of Politics
After the two days he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.
So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jn 4:43–54). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
This is a story about faith. Here again, Jesus returned to Cana of Galilee and found more welcome there in a place that had more gentile influence than in His own more Jewish hometown of Nazareth. An official from the nearby town of Capernaum came to see if Jesus would come back with him and heal his son who was at the point of death. Jesus told the official that he would not believe unless this miracle was accompanied by signs and wonders, but the official persisted. Jesus then turned and announced that the boy would live. When he returned home he found that this was true and that the boy’s fever had left him at the time Jesus announced that he would live.
It is a story of faith, not because anyone does anything that demonstrates great faith, but because it is faith shown in the lack of signs and wonders, yet it yields the same results. Everyone takes a back seat in this story besides Jesus and this father. With only the power of His word, Jesus changes the outcome and heals this boy who is miles away. There is no laying on of hands or chanting. He simply says it is and it is. It is not noted whether this man is Jewish or gentile, which tells us that it doesn’t matter who you are. What matters in this story is this: in the face of insurmountable odds, will we seek Jesus… and when we do not get a show of divine intervention, will we continue along our way in faith that what He says, goes?
It strikes me as ironic that politics are built upon and held together by promises kept in faith. We make promises to our leaders and they make promises to us, and we trust they will fulfill them and that we will fulfill ours. Yet our politics today are not marked by faith, but by doubt. We have lived through 40 years, an entire generation, of presidents and national leaders who were not trusted to the extent that distrust is the new norm and there has been an entire generation raised that has never known otherwise. It has followed a similar shift in distrust in God. We campaign on distrust now, not stating what we stand for, but spending our energy and resources attacking our opponents. This tactic is not new, but neither does it work well in the long run. We have changed the environment, changed the rules of the game so that political winners fall faster than ever from the returning waves of distrust that carried them into power.
This miracle shows us that faith in anything begins with a faith in God, even when we do not understand – perhaps especially when we do not understand. Facing an environment hostile to anything related to trust, it shows that it only takes one to change the rules again… particularly when that faith is placed in God. Will we believe God even if we cannot see the proof before us? Can we trust God to be God, not just in the spiritual world, but in the brokenness of our political situations, or will we take matters into our own hands?