John 4:43-54 ESV
43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.
46 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. 47 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. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 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.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
During this time of the absentee father, it is good to have men who are actively involved as leaders, providers, stabilizers, teachers, and encouragers in their families. This message is the companion message of my previous message titled: “A Mother’s Plea for Her Daughter.” In God’s wisdom, the Spirit has written this story about a father’s great concern for his son’s life, and in his story we see the story of God’s glory in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. A request for help (4:43-47)
A. The spiritual setting
1. Jesus’ own people had a lack of esteem for Him. Even after being announced by John the Baptist, his forerunner, as the Lamb of God and Messiah (1:29, 34), the Jewish people as a whole failed to honor him. The apostle pointed this out in the prologue to the Gospel (1:11). Throughout the Fourth Gospel, John makes this point a number of times. Jesus had no honor in his own country (4:44).
2. When he left Judea and then Samaria, the people of Galilee “welcomed him”, but for the wrong reason. Their welcome did not come because they accepted the message that he and John the Baptist had preached. It came from the “miraculous signs” (2:23) they had seen him perform at the Passover Feast (2:23). It was “action based” rather than “message based”.
Apply: Let us not be proud. Much of cultural Christianity in our land, even of an evangelical sort, is based on action; that is, people go to church because of the personal psychological, emotional, or social benefits they gain from the action. They don’t come because they want to honor Jesus.
B. A serious physical need
1. Among the people of Galilee was a man with a serious problem. His son was sick and nearing death from his sickness. John tells us that he was a “royal official”, apparently someone in the service of Herod the Tetrarch. There is no indication that this royal official was a Gentile. But this royal official was in a position of wealth and prestige and some power. Yet none of these could protect his son from a very serious illness.
Apply: Often men think that their skill, money, or influence is all that their families need. Yet none of these can protect anyone from illness and death. Sometimes even seemingly strong professional athletes are struck down by disease. Men, let us not be proud of all our supposed resources. Everyone needs the Almighty God.
2. We must see God’s hand in this true story. When does the boy’s illness reach the critical point? It is after the Passover Feast, when Jesus performed many signs and wonders. It is when Jesus arrives in Galilee. This is not luck; it is God’s sovereign mercy. Jesus is on a mission from the Father (Jn 17:4), and he arrives in Galilee right on God’s schedule.
Apply: We need to have confidence in God. His time is the right time.
3. The man did what a man ought to do. Instead of being proud, he went to Jesus and begged Jesus to come with him and heal his son, who was close to death. Do you see what happened? A royal official was begging a carpenter for help. Many men are far too proud to go to Jesus. They have everything “under control”; in fact, they won’t even admit they have a problem. This happens to many men in our area in regard to alcohol. “I don’t have a problem with drinking! I can leave it whenever I want to. I’m in control.” But they are led astray by it (Prov 20:1). There are other men who have serious marriage problems, and only at the last resort will they seek spiritual counsel.
4. Although this man came to Jesus, he was not coming for the right reason, as Jesus quickly points out. He also came with a wrong attitude, telling Jesus what he needed to do. His faith, to what degree he had any, was far inferior to the faith of the centurion whose servant was paralyzed (Mt 8:5-10).
Apply: Where are you on your spiritual journey? Do you have true faith in the Lord Jesus? Or are you still trying to tell Jesus what he must do? God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Pt 5:5).
II. The interview with Jesus (4:48-50)
A. A initial stern response – Jesus knows the hearts of everyone (2:24-25). While the man’s going to Jesus was hopeful, it was not sufficient. Jesus did not pick fruit before it was ripe. He knew what the man must hear, if he is to repent and believe. He speaks so as to reveal the man’s problem and to bring him to a change of mind.
1. He speaks to the man while speaking to all (“you people”). He is caught up in the spirit of his times. Jesus knows that the man must break away from the common worldly attitudes and opinions. He knows that true faith involves belief in God’s word.
2. Jesus warns against a lust for miraculous signs. Too many people think that God needs to “prove himself” in their day. “If only God would do a miracle, then Americans would turn back to God!” And so they wander from healing service to healing service to muster evidence that God is still alive today. Jesus told a story about a man who was dead certain that if his brothers saw someone raised from the dead they would believe. By the way, that man was already in torment in Hades (Lk 16:19-31). Paul rebuked those who wanted signs rather than the message of the cross (1 Cor 1:18-25). God has already given his great miraculous sign when he raised Christ from the dead. We may not demand another or we will impale ourselves on the sword of our own pride and foolishness.
3. Jesus points out the man’s lack of faith. Though the man had a “faith in miracles”, he needed to believe in Jesus’ word. Then he would have a saving dependence on Jesus Christ.
B. An earnest request
1. He repeats his plea for Jesus to come to him, pressing the urgent need.
2. Yet he is still telling Jesus what to do. The journey from pride to faith is not usually a simple one. It takes a miracle of grace for us sinners to realize who is the Lord.
C. A gracious response
1. Jesus answers the man in a paradoxical manner. Jesus would not do what the man wanted—to go and to heal his son. Yet if the man would trust Jesus and simply leave, his son would live. To put this story together in a sentence: Jesus didn’t do what the man wanted, but he did! What happened to the man? He took Jesus at his word and did what Jesus told him.
2. The great word here is “live”. John the apostle wants to see this glory of Jesus. If we go to him, believing in him, we also will live (3:15-16).
Apply: Have you believed in Jesus? Is his word of promise enough for you?
III. The miraculous sign (4:51-54)
A. The healing
1. While the man was on his way home, his servants told him the good news. His son had been healed! He asked, “When did he get better?” They answered, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon.”
2. So then, Jesus can do “long distance healings”! We don’t have to arrange special meeting places and services with all kinds of contrived techniques. The ascended Lord Jesus in heaven can answer our prayers here on earth. This is very good news, because that means that Jesus can still rescue us! Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!
B. The salvation of a household
1. The man was struck by the power of Christ’s word. “Right when he spoke, my boy was healed! So, he told his household what the Lord Jesus had done for him. And everyone in his household—mom, dad, sons, daughters, servants, and whoever else might have lived with them—believed. They were saved.
2. This was the first of a series of “household conversions” recorded in the NTS (Ac 11:14-17; 16:15, 31-34; 18:8). But notice that each person believed. As the old saying goes, “God has no grandchildren.” Everyone individually must repent and believe in Jesus.
Apply: We ought to pray for the salvation of households!
Apply: Men, do you believe in Jesus? Do the others of your family believe in Jesus? Every dad should seek to lead his whole family to Jesus. But first, you must believe.
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.