Tuesday, July 07, 2015
"Believe" Sermon: John 4:46-54
July 5, 2015Second Reformed Church
Jesus spent two days with the Samaritans after the conversion of the Samaritan woman, and many more Samaritans believed in Him savingly as they heard Him preach and teach the Word of God. Then He left for Galilee – back to His “hometown” – He had grown up in Nazareth in Galilee. (John reminds us that Jesus quoted the proverb that a prophet is not honored in His hometown. However, since people from Galilee had been in Jerusalem when Jesus spoke and cleansed the Temple, they greeted Him – not for Who He was, but because of what He had done. They hoped He would continue the show.)
“So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill.”
Jesus and the disciples first stopped in Cana in Galilee – and we will remember that Jesus changed water into wine at the wedding in Cana in Galilee, which we have recorded in chapter two. Then they went to Capernaum – about twenty miles northeast. There, we are told, there was an official whose son was ill.
We’re not told this official’s name or what position he held, but it is likely, given the word that John uses, that this man was an official in King Herod’s palace. This official had heard that Jesus was a healer – he may have even seen Jesus and heard Him in Jerusalem during the feast. He had been impressed enough with what Jesus had done to seek Him out.
And we are told that he had a son, and his son was very sick – on the verge of death.
“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.”
And we see, initially, the belief that the official had in Jesus was lacking – for three reasons:
First, the official believed Jesus had to be where his son was to heal him.
The official asked Jesus to “come down and heal his son.”
Now, these words in themselves are not right or wrong, but since Jesus resisted the request, we know that the official did not understand or believe in Jesus’ authority over sickness and disease. He did not believe that Jesus is the Divine Healer; Jesus does not need to be physically in the room with a person to heal him – Jesus has the power and the authority to heal whomever He wills, no matter where He might be physically.
We get ourselves in trouble with regards to the Lord’s Supper as we consider where Jesus’ body is – where is Jesus’ body?
The author of Hebrews tells us He “…sit[s] at [God’s] right hand …” (Hebrews 1:13b, ESV).
And yet, as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we clearly state that Jesus is here ministering His Grace to us as we receive the elements – how can that be if He is at the right hand of God?
Luke records for us how a centurion sent some of the elders to Jesus to plead for the life of his servant who was dying. Jesus had compassion and began to make the trip, when friends of the centurion came with a message for Jesus:
“Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at them, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith’” (Luke 7:6b-9, ESV).
In this case the centurion understood and believed rightly about Jesus – Jesus did not need to come to the centurion’s home to heal his servant; if Jesus commanded the servant to be well – all sickness would leave the servant because Jesus has the authority over all things.
So, when we receive the elements of the Lord’s Super, Jesus is not physically there, but He is most certainly there ministering to us His Grace; His physically body is at the right hand of God and will be there until He returns to earth to judge the world, but, in His Divinity – as God – Jesus can be anywhere – and multiple places – at once. So, He is here and in every true Christian Church.
So Jesus doesn’t need to be physically with us to heal us and minister to us, because He is also God, and God can be everywhere at once – even when is seems too late to us, Jesus is Sovereign and all that we ask in His Name – according to His Will – shall be done.
And that leads us to the second mistake the official made: the official believed his son had to be alive for Jesus to heal him.
The official asked Jesus to “come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” The implication was that Jesus could not do anything to help after the official’s son died.
But we know that Jesus is the Lord of life and death, and if it is His Will, the living will die and the dead will live.
When Jesus heard that His friend Lazarus was sick, He purposefully stayed away until Lazarus was dead and buried to make this point. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, understood this: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you” (John 11:21b-22, ESV).
Martha confessed that she believed that Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death and He could raise Lazarus from the dead – if it was in accordance with God’s Will.
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18b, ESV). Jesus has the right and the power to do anything and everything that He wills throughout all of existence.
Do you find that an encouragement? – that our Savior, Who is God in the flesh, is the Almighty God – that nothing is beyond His ability and will? -- that all He wills must come to pass?
Are you bold to ask this Savior – if it is His will – to heal incurable illness? To provide for you in a way that seems impossible? To open impossible doors?
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do greater works than these that I do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14, ESV).
The Most Powerful Being in existence, the Father Who loves us, the Son Who gave Himself for us, the Holy Spirit Who enlivens us – this God – invites us to come boldly before Him and plead for Him to answer our prayers!
Are we afraid because our prayers are too small? Too big? Too impossible? Too embarrassing? Do we really believe that God is able?
Our Father invites us to come to Him through the Holy Spirit in the Name of Jesus to ask Him anything – even to be satisfied with whatever God’s Will would be for us.
Third, the official believed in the miracles of Jesus, but not in Jesus Himself.
“So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’”
Jesus understood in His Divinity that the official came to Him because he saw miracles and believed in them and wanted a miracle for his son. Like those who saw Jesus at the feast in Jerusalem, he believed in the miracles – Jesus’ power to do them – and he wanted one for his son, but He did not believe the Word of Jesus – that He is God the Son and Savior.
The problem with this is that the purpose of miracles is to point to Jesus and Who He is. Miracles are not important by themselves. Miracles are not about themselves. Miracles are signs that reveal that Jesus is God the Savior.
There are TV preachers – and probably some real preachers as well – who put on a show of “miracles” – everyone comes to get their “blessing,” their “anointing,” their “miracle,” but it is not in the context of the Gospel – of Who Jesus is and what He did.
If the “worship service” does not plainly lead to Jesus and His salvation, it is not a worship service – it may be many things – it may be exciting, but it is not worship and a sermon has not been preached.
The worship service is about declaring the Worth of our God in Trinity – especially through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus frequently had to turn people away who came with wrong expectations – people who just came for the food – or the miracles – or to prove their point – or something else. If we come to worship because we want something other than to worship God and hear His Word, we have come with the wrong motivation.
If we ever go away from the worship service saying to ourselves, “I got nothing out of that,” there may have been many things wrong with the worship service, but one thing is certain: we have come to the worship service for the wrong reason – the worship service is not for us to “get something.” The only proper “gimmick” – if we can call it that – in the worship service, is the reading and preaching of the Word of God. We come to the worship service to worship God and hear what God has said and to respond in faith and obedience.
So, we see the official came to Jesus, wanting his dying son to be healed, but he had wrong beliefs: he believed that Jesus had to be physically present to heal him, he believed that Jesus couldn’t do anything after his son died, and he believed in the miracles, not in Jesus, Himself.
Still, in Jesus’ Divinity, He could see the spark of faith in him – the Holy Spirit was at work in his heart and was bringing him to a true belief, and so we see:
First, Jesus refused to go to the official’s home, and the official believed that Jesus did not have to be with his son to heal him.
“The official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus said, ‘Go, your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.”
The official again pleaded with Jesus to come before his son died, but Jesus told him to “go,” and the man believed the word that Jesus would heal his son. The Holy Spirit assured the man with Jesus’ simple word that his son would be healed, and there was no need for Jesus to go to the official’s home. Physical distance in not a problem for Jesus.
Second, Jesus told the official, in the language He used, that He is sovereign over life and death.
Jesus told the official, “your son will live.” The word that Jesus used can mean “recover from illness” – it can also mean, “be brought back to life.” The language of the text that follows indicates that the official's son was on the border between life and death when he suddenly got well. The official understood what Jesus meant.Someone being dead was not a problem for Jesus.
Third, Jesus’ words to the official, confirmed by the time of the miracle of his son’s healing, was the moment the Holy Spirit brought the official to saving belief in Jesus.
“As he was going down, his servants met him and told him 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.’”
The fact that Jesus miraculously healed the official’s son without being there was a great gift, but the official finally understood and believed in Jesus Himself as the Savior that God had promised – he came to saving faith in Jesus, the Son of God and Savior – not merely Jesus the rabbi with the gift of healing.
The official responded by telling his entire household Who Jesus is and what He has done – he evangelized his household – he told them Who the Savior is. He told his wife and children, any relatives that may have been living there, and any servants he may have had – and every one of them came to saving faith. God used the salvation of this official to be the means to save everyone in his household.
Have you ever thought about where God has placed you?
Sometimes it can be discouraging if your family is full of non-Christians, and so is your work, and so is your group of friends. But maybe the reason you are surroundedby non-Christians is that God has chosen you to be a witness to the Gospel before them. Surely, if we care about our family, and co-workers, and friends, we will want to tell them the Gospel, won’t we? Don’t we want everyone to hear the One Way to be right with God and to believe it savingly?
Most people don’t find it easy to tell others, but it’s a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Pray that God would ignite a fire in each one of us that we would not be able to not tell others about Jesus and His Gospel.
As God is pleased, we might be able to note as was noted about this official, “And he himself believed, and all his household.”
So, let us believe in Jesus:
Let us believe that Jesus is the Lord God Almighty Who is always with us and Who sits – in His humanity – reigning at the right hand of God.
Let us believe that nothing that Jesus wills is impossible, and let us pray that we would be led to pray according to God’s Will.
Let us believe that life and death are in Jesus’ hands, and let us be assured that He is with us now and will bring all we who believe into the fullness of His Kingdom on the last day.
Let us believe all these things because the Gospel has told us Who Jesus is and what He has done, and though heaven and earth should pass away, let us not be shaken, but hold fast to our belief.
And let us be so moved by God the Holy Spirit that we tell others the Gospel, that they, too, would believe, as God is pleased to cause faith.
“This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.”
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You for working through the Holy Spirit in the life of this official that he would come to saving faith in Jesus and His Gospel. Help us not to doubt or be confused or to put our hope in anything less that Who Jesus is and what He has done. Prepare the Gospel on our lips and be pleased to use us for the building up of the Kingdom. For it is in Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.