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A Nobleman’s Son Healed

Riverside Indonesian Fellowship
Published by Stanley Pouw in 2020 · 18 October 2020

We are privileged to hear the voice of God through His Word. We are wrapping up John 4:46 - 54. It is a story about a miracle healing. It is designed to be consistent with John’s purpose, to demonstrate the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ through His supernatural power. But it is also a story about believing. It is a story particularly about what it means to really believe.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are full of miracle stories. Jesus’ ministry began in the south, where He did many miracles in Judea. So around the Passover, in the area surrounding Jerusalem, Jesus also did many miracles. And the Galileans were there as they always were at this great event in the calendar year of Israel, and so they saw the many miracles of Jesus.

Jesus is in Galilee, verse 45 says, where they received Him in the same way that the people of Jerusalem received Him. It says in John 2:23, they believed in Him as a miracle worker. But remember in John 2:24 to 25 it said, “Jesus didn’t commit Himself to them because He knew their hearts and He knew that that kind of faith was a superficial faith.” They all believed that He was just a miracle worker.

It was impossible to deny that. The miracles were too complete, and too unmistakably divine and there were far too many of them to question that. Jesus came and essentially banished disease from Palestine for the duration of His ministry. The record is contained in the four gospels, for anyone to read. There were too many eyewitnesses, too many places, too many unique and differing events.

So you have an extensive record of the miracles of Jesus in the gospels, but that’s nothing compared to with what could have been written and the details of which would have filled the world with books. Here is one of those many miracles that Jesus did. This one suits John’s purpose because it’s a miracle about believing. In verse 48 Jesus says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”

John’s message is against the background of Judaism which is a religion like every other religion in the world that believes you gain heaven by something you do. Oh faith is a part of it, but not all of it. This had to do with ceremonies, rituals and routines and forms of morality, obedience, kindness and good deeds. And the accumulated effect of this goodness is what gains heaven according to them.

The truth is contrary to all of that. There are only two kinds of religion that exist. One is the religion of human achievement, and the other is the religion of faith, and that’s the true gospel. Everything else is some mixture of believing and doing and that kind of religion fills hell. The only true religion is connected to faith and faith alone, for by grace are you saved through faith in Christ.

How do you become a child of God? By receiving Christ. What does that mean? “To those who believe in His name.” What do you mean His name? All that He is, everything that is true about Him. God says, “My name is I AM who I AM,” And when you believe in the name of Jesus Christ, that means that you believe in everything that He is and does. You believe fully in all the gospel.

In John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 10:24-25, “Then the Jews said to Him, how long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.”

Just look for a moment at Hebrews 11, the faith chapter. It’s popular to say today I’m a believer, I’m a person of faith. Sometimes people say, “I’m very spiritual,” meaning they believe in certain things. And when we talk about believing in something, we can be talking in very nebulous sort of intuitive self-designed and devised kind of notions. But that is not how the Bible describes saving faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So we know right away that faith involves something we don’t have and faith involves something we can’t see. If you just took that, you could be misled because there are lots of things in life for which we exercise faith, things that we can’t see, things that we hope for, things that we aren’t sure about.

We’re not talking about that kind of faith. We’re not kind of talking about a human kind of faith based upon a repeated experience. We’re talking about something for which you have had no experience. You are putting your eternal destiny in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ and you have never done that before. Why? Well, because that’s the only way to get to heaven.

You don’t know anything about heaven other than what’s revealed in the Scripture. People don’t go to heaven and come back. You’re taking a step that is the most serious step you’ve ever taken in your life and it literally is your life now and forever and you have no experience. You need to know that it’s not going to go wrong. And that’s what verse 1 is saying, faith is the assurance, faith is that conviction.

What do you mean with assurance? It speaks of a foundation. It’s not subject to whim. It’s objective. So we believe in something that is absolutely firmly established and that is the Word of God. We believe in the promises of God. We believe in the commands of God. We believe in the truth of God as revealed in Holy Scripture. So it’s not assurance in a subjective sense. It’s the truth of the Word of God.

Everything we need to know is revealed on the pages of the Word of God that is alive. And so it is a firm assurance in which we believe, and that then leads us to the second word, conviction. Conviction goes right alongside assurance. That means something that we hold on to with absolute commitment. That is the dominating conviction that drives our living and informs our hope.

So the gospel came, Jesus spoke it, the Apostles spoke it, and it was attested and confirmed by miracles. Jesus wasn’t the only one who did the miracles. He delegated the power to the Apostles who healed the sick and raised the dead as well. How will you escape the judgment of God if you neglect such a salvation which was confirmed through signs and miracles?

Now let’s go back to John 4 and think about this unbelief in connection to the nation Israel: Judah, Judea and Galilee. They had the Old Testament, so they had the revelation of God speaking of the coming Messiah. They also had the fulfillment of that revelation. John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” All the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Christ.

So they have the Old Testament and they saw the completion in the New Testament concerning Christ. In addition, they have all the miracles attesting to His deity. That is the complete revelation. Jesus met some of the disciples of John the Baptist after he said, “There’s the Lamb of God, go follow Him,” so they did. Jesus never did a miracle for them, and yet they believed in Him as their Messiah.

Why? They had the Old Testament knowledge. All they were waiting for was the fulfillment. And when the Messiah came, they believed in Him. Then we meet the woman at the well from the village of Sychar, and all of those Samaritans. No miracles, they had some idea of Messiah. But Jesus gave them more. He spent two days with them explaining more about the Old Testament, and they believed.

Yes, He demonstrated divine knowledge, but there were no miracles. It was enough for the first disciples to see that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament. It was enough for the Samaritans to have the full understanding of the Old Testament filled out and then see that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament and they were redeemed, because they were believers.

But when it came to the rest of Israel, they fit in to verse 48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” Even though it is clear that Jesus is the only one who could fulfill the Old Testament detail by detail, you demand more and more signs and wonders. That is the deepest kind of unbelief. And when unbelief rejects the light, the darkness deepens. That’s where Israel was.

So in John 4:46-54, we have an unusual illustration. Someone is actually being saved. At the end of the ministry of Jesus in Judea, there were 120 gathered in the Upper Room. At the end of the ministry of Jesus in Galilee, according to 1 Corinthians 15:6, there were five hundred. That’s all out of the hundreds of thousands that lived in the land of Israel and Jesus crisscrossed every aspect of that land.

Let’s look at verse 46, “So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.” This was somebody who was an official of king Herod of Galilee and Perea. He was a vassal king that killed John the Baptist after he denounced him for marrying his brother’s wife and getting involved in incest.

This nobleman believes Jesus is a miracle worker. Capernaum was the headquarters of Jesus’ miracle ministry in Galilee such that in Matthew 11:24, Jesus said about that city that if Sodom had seen what Capernaum saw, it would still be around. Verse 47, “When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.”

But what moves a man from having a sort of detached view of Jesus as a miracle worker, to moving a much more closely to the reality of who He is in desperation. And that’s still true today. Jesus says in Matthew 9, “The people who aren’t sick aren’t looking for a doctor. It’s desperation that drives people.” The royal official said to Him in verse 49, ’Sir, come down before my child dies.’”

We could call it a sort of fearing faith. He’s like the man who said in Mark 9:24, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” It’s a partial faith. He believes that Jesus is a miracle worker because there’s plenty of evidence of that. And it was Jesus in verse 48, who said, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” You believe I’m a miracle worker. But that’s not enough.

But Jesus accepted that weak faith because He did miracles to bring people to that initial step. Somebody might suggest, “Well why would Jesus accommodate that kind of superficial faith?” Because all faith has to start somewhere, right? Why do you think He did the miracles? So the people would accept that He was a miracle worker and then go from there to the next steps.

Jesus then responded to the man’s plea. Verse 50, “Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.” Now he believes in His words. Many times in the gospel of John you’re going to hear, “Believe Me for My works, believe Me for My words.” Jesus was the truth teller. Everything He said pointed to His deity.

“Never a man spoke like this man,” they said about Jesus. So this nobleman is moved from believing in the power of Jesus to believing in the truth of Jesus, in the words of Jesus, the trustworthiness of what He said. This is essential, you’ve got to get beyond the works to the words, right? Because the words have the saving power and the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.

Verse 51-53, “And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!” 52, “Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53, “So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.”

So his faith has gone up to another level. And not only that, he himself believed and his whole household. Well you’ve heard that biblical language before, right? Remember the Philippian jailor, he believed and his whole household. So you had a village saved in the beginning of John 4. Now you have a household saved. That means kids, wife, in-laws and even servants.

And this is to remind us of verse 42 that He is the Savior of the world. Not just different nations, like Jews and Samaritans illustrating the Gentiles but different ranks. He saved some fishermen in John 1. He saved an immoral woman who was a half-breed in John 4. Eventually he saved a high level Jewish Pharisee named Nicodemus, and here He saves the household of some Greek Herodians.

What are we talking about when we say, “Put your faith in Christ. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved.” Believe His works to be the very works of God. Believe His words to be the very words of God. When He spoke, God spoke. And that’s the purpose of John, “These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing you might have life in His name.”

Where are you regarding all this? It’s pretty hard to deny that Jesus was a miracle worker because that is contrary to history. You cannot deny that His words were divine and supernaturally. No one ever heard anyone speak like He spoke. That’s one of the things you find when you study the gospels and you study the words of Jesus. They’re just transcendent and divine. Let us pray.


© 2017 Ferdy Gunawan

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