Faithlife
Faithlife

Br Rd Taking Jesus at His word John 4 50 15 Aug 2004 PMl

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Taking Jesus at His word[1]

Jesus Heals the Official’s Son

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he enquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.”

53 Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.

54 This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.

                                                                                JOHN 4 43-54 esp. 50

Last Sunday we considered John’s FIRST SIGN – the miracle at the wedding of Cana in Galilee.  Tonight we move on to the SECOND SIGN – and see how the same theme of FAITH EMERGING FROM A RESPONSE TO CHRIST’S WORD is developed by the Evangelist.

Hearing that Jesus was at Cana – the site of the first sign – the nobleman or royal official made the 25mile journey to Him to get help from Jesus.

As the story is told it seems that Jesus is being rather short with the man:

48 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

But the man begs Jesus to go back with him. Jesus promises healing and the man goes back. On the way he is met by his servants who tell him that his son is recovered.   The man asks for details – and realises that Jesus had healed him at the time he spoke.

From this simple narrative we may draw several inferences about the way of Jesus with individuals – and therefore His way with us.  We focus in particular on the phrase in v50:

The man took Jesus at his word and departed.

Our material will be divided thus:

1.     Jesus and His word

2.     The nobleman’s faith

3.     Take Jesus at His word

1.  Jesus and His word  

Consider what Jesus says in the narrative:

48 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

50 Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”

Such simple – direct statements demand a careful reading so that we may see how it is that Jesus leads an enquirer into a relationship of faith in Himself which develops into faith within his family.

Why does Jesus challenge the man in the way He does?

THE NOBLEMAN AND THE PREVAILING VIEWS OF THE TIME

It is important that the nobleman is able to move on from a generalised desperation that  his dying son may be cured by Jesus – to a willingness to act on the word of Jesus Himself – move from a generalised faith *about* Jesus to a faith *IN* Jesus.

It is in the context of the view of His generation and His people that Jesus makes the statement about a people seeking signs and wonders.

This is an UNBELIEVING WORLD – and in a religious context as Jesus had commented in an earlier verse – the prophet is not without honour except amongst His own people.

The needy nobleman MUST see himself as part of that UNBELIEVING, SCEPTICAL and SIGN SEEKING AGE.

48 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

Jesus is saying : Faith is not easy.   It goes against the grain – against the flow of opinion.

Can you recognise that?

In the times of Christ people went out of their way to see the remarkable and the miraculous – not so that they would believe in Him – but out of idle curiosity.

Some – like the man in the narrative before us, went out of real need – but their motives and faith need to be challenged too.

TAKING JESUS AT HIS WORD is crucial – but it is immensely difficult.

We know from elsewhere in the New Testament that faith is a matter of GRACE.

Here we see GRACE AT WORK  transforming A DESPERATE HOPE into A DEEPER TRUST

It is the work of Jesus to PROVOKE FAITH – and that is why He challenges the man with the values of his age.

Look – this is the way of the world – curiosity in the unexpected; scepticism that says it will only believe if it can see ….

CAN YOU MOVE AWAY FROM THAT WORLD VIEW TO A VIEW OF ME?  He asks.

Of course the man needs to address

THE NOBLEMAN AND THE REAL NEED OF HIS LIFE

We have said before : “What is it you want?  What do you really, really want?”

Outward signs and wonders

A spectacular show that stays in the mind for a while

Something “to think about and possibly decide later”?

OR

A WORD FROM THE LIVING CHRIST?

50 Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”

This is a challenge of a different sort – isn’t it?

The actual words Jesus uses are very curt indeed – the phrase for “Your son will live” is in the words:

πορεύου, υἱός σου ζῇ                        ζῇ !

Go – your son lives

 

Will he do as the Lord says? 

As we reflected last Sunday – What He says to you – DO IT!

No wonder the disciples said to Jesus in the SIXTH chapter:

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” JOHN 6

In those simple but direct words the Lord reaches out to the nobleman and to his son

Behind the Lord’s words lies:

A response to need

An instant healing   (But of course that would not be known for a while)

Jesus’ words require an acceptance of JESUS HIMSELF and HIS WORDS.

2.  The nobleman’s faith

These brief verses are a simple but profound statement of a pilgrimage of faith begun and established and extended:

47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 

53 Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.

In these four statements made about or by the nobleman you have the progression of his faith from desperation to commitment.

FAITH ASKS FOR HELP – It articulates need in the presence of Jesus

47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

That emerging faith does not understand HOW Jesus will work (for Jesus would in the end not need to come)

It walked 25 miles and begged

It was a faith growing against the background of general unbelief.

FAITH KEEPS ASKING – It re-affirms that need when challenged

 

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Once again – when challenged about the widely held views of Jesus’ working – he repeats his request COME.

He does not understand yet how Jesus will work - he assumes that Jesus will COME WITH HIM

But Jesus has something even greater for him!

But HE DOES NOT GIVE UP!   That others are only interested in signs and wonders does not match his own need or his own intention

Jesus MUST ACT OR HIS SON DIES.

How frequently our need is played out against a background of general scepticism, and how often our need has to be articulated in contrast to any suggestion it might stop asking?

Consider the awful prospect of his lapsing into the generalised malaise of the times.

Are you willing to stand out against the rest?

Willing to keep on with Christ – as your only hope?

FAITH TAKES JESUS AT HIS WORD – AND GOES

 

50 The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 

The two aspects of a true developing faith are demonstrated in his actions:

-         faith where he cannot see

-         faith that obeys

-         faith that considers the outcome

His faith was rewarded AS HE MADE HIS JOURNEY

That is a fundamental principle of the Spiritual Life

“I being in the way, the Lord led me…”

We can only speculate on his feelings as he began and continued his journey. It would be mid-morning of the next day before he would meet his servants and hear the good news!

Once again A TIME OF WAITING features in the walk of faith.

Waiting and walking go together!

The wonder has already been worked!  But he does not see it – yet he believes.

11 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

FAITH MULTIPLIES AS THE WONDER OF WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE IS UNDERSTOOD

 

53 Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.

Asking about the work of Christ

So as to prove the power of the Master

So as to demonstrate it to others

So that they in turn believe…

In the light of all this then we say simply, and in conclusion:

3.  Take Jesus at His word

It will make you stand out against the crowd

It will challenge you as to where you real needs lie

It will ask you to TRUST HIM rather than any scheme that bears His name

It will demand OBEDIENCE followed by WITNESS

This is the nature of faith as provoked by Jesus in a needy life – from its simple beginnings to its complete commitment.

Articulating need

Re-affirming when challenged

Taking Him at His word

Faith deepened and tested

Faith extending into the household

You have His word – what will you do?


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[1]Second Sign of John’s Gospel

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