Chapter 13.1 Rabbi from Nazareth
Autumn of A.D. 27 to spring of 29 (about a year and a half)
Rabbi from Nazareth, composite digital image by L. Lovett, June 2007
Rabbi from Nazareth, composite digital image by L. Lovett, June 2007
(CLICK on the image above for a LARGER version)

Jesus’ brief stay in Samaria with his warm welcome as Messiah by its people formed the introduction to the beginning of his own ministry, separate and distinct from John’s. Upon arrival in Galilee, the six disciples who had left the Baptist to follow Jesus went back to their homes temporarily to care for their family needs and daily tasks; so at first Christ was alone as he moved about. In less than a day’s journey he could easily reach most of the centers around Galilee where he taught with authority. His Great Galilean Ministry lasted for about three and a half years, and he toured the area several times.

John the Baptist had fulfilled his mission as forerunner. The setting of his own life’s sun was the rising of one infinitely more bright; the end of his mission was the beginning of another far higher. Now that Messiah had come, he was more than content—his joy was complete.

As well as publicly denouncing the Pharisees, John had criticized Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea, for marrying his brother’s wife Herodias and for many other wrongs he had done. At his wife’s request, the tetrarch put John in prison at his palace fortress at Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. He knew the end would come soon and he was ready to die for his Lord.

Antipas had inherited great wealth from his father. Besides his palace in Machaerus, he had another in Jerusalem; and he also built Tiberias, the area’s capital city on Galilee’s western shore, complete with a great palace housing precious objects, and sports stadium for ten thousand people. He shrewdly invested in lush vineyards and fields around the Sea of Galilee and among the rich valley lands beside the Jordan in Perea.

Healing of Chuza’s Son

The tetrarch was fortunate in being served by many honest and capable men. Chuza, his steward and royal official in the region around Capernaum, was conscientious, capable, and pious. He served his master well and at the same time earned the respect of his fellow countrymen for his honesty and business skills. He had a comfortable home overlooking the lake, wore fine clothes, and was respected as a nobleman in both the marketplace and the synagogue. His wife Joanna had servants to run the house and he adored his young son. By all ordinary standards, Chuza was well favored.

Suddenly, everything changed and his world was turned upside down. His son became ill, and even Herod’s own physician was not able to help him. It was apparent that the child would die unless a marked improvement in his condition quickly took place. Distraught, for he loved the boy dearly, the father did not know where to turn.

Joanna in her despair came to him, “I have heard the fishermen talking of a rabbi who performed a miracle. If you went to him, perhaps he might come and heal our son. He is our only hope.”

“Who is this rabbi?”

“The teacher called Jesus of Nazareth. He seems to be a kind man, willing to help people in need. He has returned from Judea and is in Galilee.”

Chuza knew the town and, like Nathanael, he thought, “A miracle worker from Nazareth?” But he was so desperate and since it was not far, he determined to seek out this rabbi called Jesus. After calling for his swiftest horse, he started out at once. When he reached Nazareth he learned that Jesus was at Cana. Hurrying on, he inquired in the village and was directed to the home where the young rabbi was visiting.

To Chuza, at first sight Jesus looked no different from any other teacher of the synagogues he saw in his travels about Galilee. His robe was the dress of an ordinary rabbi of common cloth and the sandals on his feet had obviously been made in a village shop. However, he sensed there was something extraordinary about him that gave him a glimmer of hope to complete his request.

“Come to Capernaum with me, Master, and heal my son,” he begged. “He lies at the point of death.”

Christ knew Herod’s steward by reputation as a good man in spite of the fact that he served an evil master. Compassionate as he always was for the sorrows of others, he understood the concern of a father for his child. But first, Jesus asked him a question to test his faith, “Must I do miraculous signs and wonders before you people will believe in me?”

In his anguish, Chuza did not hesitate. “Lord,” he pleaded, “please come now before my little boy dies!”

The Savior admired his insistence and told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!”

Chuza believed Jesus’ words and started home. Joyfully, he mounted his horse and started on the return journey to Capernaum. His faith was soon rewarded. Halfway home, he saw men riding toward him. As they came closer, he recognized two of his servants with joyful faces.

“Your son lives!” one of them called out to him while still some distance away. The servants could tell the happy father only that the child had suddenly improved and Joanna had immediately sent them to find him.

“What time did the boy began to improve?” he asked.

The other servant replied, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared. Why do you ask?”

Chuza did not answer. Later he would explain to them that it was the same time that Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” He realized the Rabbi from Nazareth, who had life in himself, could restore life at a distance as easily as by his presence; by the word of his power as readily as by personal touch.

On the way home he could hardly wait to tell his wife and all his household what the Savior had done for him. Entering the courtyard, he jumped off his horse and embraced his little boy who had run to him, and his entire household believed. Joanna, grateful for this miracle to her child, humbly joined the women who supported and ministered to Christ and his disciples.

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