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The four dimensions of knowing (2)

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 (1).” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.The man believed (2) 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 (3), and all his household. [John’s biography of Jesus Christ 4: 46-53 c. AD 30]


Jersey folk, like all other human beings, are on voyages of discovery. Some don’t get very far. They discover the “Lived World” around them. They discover their own “Self”. They place their own “Self” in centre position – and that’s it........


Others discover on their voyage very unpleasant truth – the “Void”.  They begin to know that there are problems, awful problems, which seemingly cannot be resolved. There are such many Voids that some come to know. One is sickness. Yet another is inability within. And then there’s wrong within, evil within. But the ultimate Void is truly to know the fact of death. There must be a way out of death, surely.


When these Voids arise some folk work hard to solve them but many decide to deny knowing any Void at all. They shout, “Me first.” They live obsessively, “Me first.” They earn, “Me first.” They accumulate, “Me first.” They turn up the music.


The “official” (see bold above) (a “civil servant” in today-speak) was not like that. He was facing the imminent early death of his young son. Truly, an awful Void. One way to deal with the Void is to blame others for it. Not this man. He decides to do something about it. Maybe he, in this Void, will also discover the fourth dimension of human knowing – the “Holy”? It can only be seen on the voyage of discovery when one is actually in the Void.


The intriguing thing about the above incident in John’s biography of Jesus Christ is the underlined word – believe – used three times and, in the original Greek, the same word pisteuo, a verb meaning “to believe”.


On the first occasion (1) Jesus says to this civil servant that he will not believe unless he sees signs and wonders. It is a challenge to the man. Is it not true that the man will not believe that Jesus is able miraculously to heal his son - unless Jesus gives him a magnificent sign of his (Jesus’) power?


The man merely responds, “Sir, come down before my child dies.  His child is 20 miles away – in Carteret when Jesus is at Mont Orgueil. He’s not interested in whether he believes Jesus or not. But Jesus cares for him. He wants this father to believe in him and to be truly blessed.


So the second use of “believe” (2) clicks in. Jesus says to him, “Go; your son will live.” Initially that must have been very difficult for this civil servant. Should he insist that Jesus goes with him? (But that would clearly demonstrate that he did not believe Jesus’ word.) Should he go back home – 20 miles away – and find that his boy has died? No doubt he is very unsure. He decides to go home. Yes, he does believe, but he hasn’t truly believed – he hasn’t discovered the Holy. He’s still in the Void. He’s been, as it were, forced to believe.


The third use of “believe” (3) is not forced. The next day the civil servant arrives back home.  Wonderful! His boy is recovering. But at what exact time, yesterday, was the dire Void resolved? He asks his servants. “1 o’clock” is their joint answer. The father knew that this was the exact time when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” He believes – as does his entire household.


What kind of belief (3) is this? It’s more than the first two. It’s the belief that says – this man is to be believed in. This man Jesus is to be trusted in all circumstances and in every way. He now knows, “If Jesus Christ is for me, who can be against me?” The voyage of discovery has opened his eyes.

‘Ignorance is your disease; knowledge must be your cure.’ (Richard Baxter, writer and poet, 1615-1691)
 ‘Unless God imparts the spiritual ability to hear his voice, one hears nothing but meaningless words.' (Ronald Dunn)
Richard Syvret

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